Dear Colleagues,


This week CBA Director Mike Heyworth chaired a meeting “to agree a revised metal detecting code”. Good. We farmers need a “Tesco clause” saying “show everything you intend to take home and get a receipt for it” (like millions of Tesco customers, including all detectorists, do all the time.) Which honest detectorist would object to that? And how could archaeologists oppose it (given that it would stop PAS’s database being infected with nighthawked items and/or false findspots).

So the new code will be a litmus test of who controls Britain’s buried heritage, professionals or the rough wing of detecting. If a Tesco-like clause is inserted it will be a step towards resource and landowner protection whereas if the code is emasculated, as happened to the original one, then the pressure from dishonest detectorists will have prevailed. Over the years there have been 15  “recording strikes” threatened when reforms were proposed. Soon we’ll know if a sixteenth (and there will be one – just watch!) has succeeded or not.

In case you doubt it, here are the previous fifteen:

“Don’t criticise us or we’ll stop reporting”,
“Don’t tell us what to do or we’ll stop reporting”,
“Don’t undertake surveys of nighthawking else we’ll stop reporting”,
“Don’t let PAS dominate us else we’ll stop reporting
” (and later: “
“Don’t reduce PAS’s funding else we’ll stop reporting”),
“Don’t impose a Code of Responsible Detecting else we’ll stop reporting”,
“Don’t discuss licensing us else we’ll stop reporting”,
“Don’t ban inappropriate rallies else we’ll stop reporting”,
“Don’t impose restrictions under stewardship schemes else we’ll stop reporting”,
“Don’t tighten up EBay else we’ll stop reporting”,
“Don’t ever short change us on our Treasure rewards else we’ll stop reporting”,
“Don’t abate rewards for not calling an archie out else we’ll stop reporting”
“Don’t use some of our Treasure rewards for proper excavations of our findspots else we’ll stop reporting”,
“Don’t extend the items covered by the Treasure Act beyond what we say else we’ll stop reporting” and perhaps most telling of all:
“Don’t write to farmers without us dictating what is to be said else we’ll stop reporting”.

Update, 18 October
The anti-heritage wing of detecting has reacted to the idea of reform already:

“I can see that following the new Code will be mandatory and any deviation of for example finding a Treasure item on grassland or digging below the ploughsoil will carry an abatement of any award.”

“Exactly! However many folk, me included, often fail to see the “desired end result” of such political manouvering. We are lucky to have individuals with such foresight & knowledge looking out for the hobby.”

“The Rally Guidance note will be next to Review i am sure. Why do one and not the other. However none are compulsory and so unenforceable.”

Nice, heroic attitudes! (And one of them is a NCMD official!). Can’t see the “desired end result” of resource protection measures; they are merely “political manouvering”  and not too worried because the codes aren’t compulsory and are therefore “unenforceable”. Does Britain really need such people on the fields? Which farmer, if only the authorities explained it to him, would let them through his gate?

Silas Brown,
Grunters Hollow Farm,