Charlie Flindt, a real live farmer writing in Farmers weekly, has painted an eyewitness account of detectorists as seen at farm gates which is a million miles from the syrupy, selfless, “amateur archaeologists” endlessly portrayed by the Portable Antiquities Scheme ….

“The caller explained that I didn’t know him and he hoped that I didn’t mind the cold call but he was a metal detectorist and was on the hunt for new area to practise his hobby. I had trouble stopping him – he was in full flow reading from his script all about the million billion pound insurance he had and how all finds were shared 50/50 – but finally I managed to get a word in. “Sorry, no can do,” I explained. “This farm is National Trust land and metal detectors aren’t allowed.” He sounded disappointed, hung up, and I made my way back to the cat-ridden sofa.

A couple of days later, there was hammering on the front door. Big lad, he was, with the demeanour of one of our friends from the white van community. “Hello, mate,” he said. Call me old-fashioned, but that’s never a good start. He then went back to his noisy van and that had another surly “mate” in it. These two were dodgy enough to warrant a text to our local PC. Not long after that, I was on the local Facebook page …. and up popped a request from a metal detectorist. There it was again – all the same spiel. And when a nicely typed letter arrived with the same request, and a stamped addressed envelope ready for my reply, I started to think there was something funny going on.

But I was puzzled. Why the sudden popularity of my little patch of Hampshire? The answer lay on a page of our wonderful local paper – the Hampshire Chronicle. A detectorist had made a significant and valuable find in a “secret” mid-Hants location: a very rare coin from the reign of Emperor Carausius, worth thousands. It all made sense”.
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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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