As expected, Dr Michael Lewis of the British Museum’s Learning, Audiences and Volunteers department attended the inaugural European Council for Metal Detecting Conference along with detectorists from seven countries including Ireland. The new (Irish) Chairman said Dr Lewis’s contribution was “outstanding”. But compare the new organisation’s logo with the National Museum of Ireland’s advice to the Irish public …..
Surely the BM should keep out of Irish affairs? The vast majority of Irelands archaeologists and heritage professionals don’t subscribe to the stance which the BM is obliged to adopt over here and many of them aren’t shy about saying so. Just this week Pat Wallace, former Head of the National Museum of Ireland, made himself crystal clear on RTE. His words may sound harsh to British ears but crucially British ears have been subjected to a continuous pro-detecting din for decades which hasn’t been heard anywhere else. Mr Wallace described metal detecting as ….
“an evil for our heritage and a major threat to the civilisation of our ancient past….. We’ve the best anti-metal detecting legislation in Europe …. Poor old England, our dear old neighbours, their heritage has been destroyed by metal detectors. I’m very familiar with Lincolnshire and I saw deep ploughing going on there in the eighties and then you see these kind of metal detecting tables, portable finds schemes so called, set up at weekends so that archaeologists and others can pick what’s left over. What a disastrous attitude to your own heritage.”