[For more on Dr Hardy’s conclusions put “Sam Hardy” in our search box].

Dr Hardy’s two metal detecting propositions – that “laissez faire” doesn’t work and that over 92% of British recordable detecting finds may be being lost to science – can surely not be ignored, they are far too consequential for that. We certainly feel vindicated. Dr Bland, previous head of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, once said our Erosion Counter “lacks credibility” but now a respected independent academic has implied its figures should be three times higher!

But will The Establishment ignore him? Probably, just like they ignored Prof. Gill’s famous question: “by how much would it [the Counter] need to be wrong to make the losses acceptable?” They could have said 50%, 20% or 10%, but they stayed silent. Now Dr Hardy is implying the losses are actually 300% higher than the Counter proposes and that 92% of finds are being lost to science.** Oh, and that laissez faire systems like Britain’s simply don’t work!

So what should happen next? We think DCMS, APPAG, CBA, NFU, CLA and every single landowner should be made aware of Dr Hardy’s two bombshells. It’s high time, after 20 years, that the portable antiquities of Britain should be treated like those beyond our shores and no longer be victims of fake news. Inertia and a quango’s survival instinct are clearly serving us ill.

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** Based on the Counter’s cautious estimate that each detectorist finds only 0.69 recordable artefacts per week. If in fact they find 1.5 per week then it would mean more than 99% of them are being lost to science – a ludicrous basis upon which to hail British laissez faire as a success.

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