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Against the endless Portable Antiquities Scheme efforts to show how successful it is, the reality of its two main failures ought to be examined. The first is the failure over 20 long years to persuade most detectorists to report their finds. The second is more recent: the failure to publicly oppose the rise of industrialised metal detecting and the mass archaeological depletion to individual farms that goes with it.

It’s not as if it’s hard to ensure that every landowner knows that if he accepts an offer of £1,000 to allow one-off commercial exploitation of the history on his fields he may do irreversible harm to the heritage of the rest of us. Just write an article in the farming press saying that, for God’s sake!

Instead, the likes of Lets Go Digging are free to make their propositions to 50 farmers a year unopposed even though their agenda for more of the same in future is on clear display in this article on their website:

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“With every day that passes, we are seeing a substantial increase in the amount of people taking up metal detecting. Whilst the interest in the hobby and unearthing more of our lost heritage is inspiring, it is in itself creating an obstacle……We came to a decision that to acquire a permission, we had to make it worth the landowners time, so by pricing a dig at £15 for our full members, we could pay him £10 per head, in most cases a minimum of £400 and in some cases, over £1000. “
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