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Detectorists at “Scotty’s Bellingham Dig” started finding treasure. So they brought in a JCB – and a massive free-for-all ensued:

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Detectorist Andy Holbrook (who runs a 23,000 member forum (Edit: a leading light in) said: The way they went about this is a total shambles and god knows why they got the farmer in with his JCB. The area should of been cordoned off untill a FLO or county archaeologist could be there to excavate it properly. God knows how many coins were found and highly doubt any will be handed in “

Yet a FLO (who hadn’t been there) assured him (and the public):Don’t worry Andy Holbrook, it’s all in hand. Yes, the use of the excavator was pretty poor, but was done without the organisers knowledge or consent. All efforts were made to get archaeologists on site as soon as possible. All the hoard related material has been reported, or is in the process of being reported. Nothing is being lost.”

So, a new low? PAS has already claimed non-reporting isn’t damage. Is it now becoming more of an apologist for bad metal detecting practice than metal detectorists?

PS: The 2 quotes above are verbatim and here’s another about The Searcher: “In light of what we saw in the original video, The Searcher Magazine will not be publishing any report relating to this “Hoard”!  Go figure, but the PAS’s assurances: “it’s all in hand” and “Nothing is being lost” look plain silly in contrast. It’s to be hoped someone in PAS will see that.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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” Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James

 

 

The drawn card this week is card III of the Major Arcana, The Moon.

The Moon: “Be careful, Caution, Confusion, Delusion, Risk

For this week’s card, we’re not highlighting a specific site, but instead are concentrating on a monument class, that of the FOGOU.

The name comes from the Cornish word ‘fogo’ meaning ‘a cave’ and belongs to a group of monuments also found in Brittany, Ireland, and Scotland, collectively known as Souterrains. The Cornish fogous belong to the later Iron Age and Roman period.

© Craig Weatherhill

Fogous are associated with settlements and usually consist of a long curving main passage, with one or two blind subsidiary passages known as ‘creeps’.

Caution is needed when entering these structures as low blocking stones provide trip hazards in many of them, and head injuries from the low ceilings are a constant risk. In many fogous, such as that at Halligye, Pendeen or Boleigh a sense of confusion can be experienced within the darkness of the creeps.

The main passage at Carn Euny. The creep can just be seen on the right at the far end.

There are several theories as to the function of fogous: food storage or animal housing, a place of concealment, and spiritual/ritual usages have all been put forward but none of these have been explained in a convincing manner as yet.

Recommended reading:

Fogou, Gateway to the Underworld by Jo May

Mother and Sun: Cornish Fogou by Ian Cooke

Which heritage site would you associate with this card? Leave a comment.

Previous articles in this series can be found here.

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Prompted by yesterday’s article Paul Barford has taken the trouble to check the number of finds recorded by PAS from 10 rallies held at a single farm in Boxted, Essex:

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2010:  x 2
2012:   –
2013: x  1
2014: x  4 ***
2015: x 15
2016: x  1
2017:   –
2018:  ?   
Grand total (from thousands of detectorists):   23


 

And yet, the organiser says: Those detectorists who have been here before can testify the consistency of the fantastic finds these fields have yielded, and many at that! And many, many, finds certainly displayed how very wealthy this area was and still is on a huge variety of finds”  (and look what an absolute host of finds they found just in 2014).

How do you feel about a decade of exploitation and large scale knowledge theft on just one farm dear Reader? PAS says not a word about it or the fact things like that are happening up and down our country and are illegal elsewhere. We tend to the view not of them but of Paul Barford, who today talks about “culture-thieving creeps” here and here.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Canadian classisist David Meadows has made a plaintiff plea regarding the widespread looting of archaeological objects across the classical world …..

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Who could argue? But here in Britain looting is dwarfed by repeated legal artefact hunting so a different plea is needed to minimise knowledge loss:

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It matters. The organiser of next week’s rally at Boxted, Essex says this will be our tenth trip back if my memory serves me correct“. He’s clearly aware that it has decimated – literally – the archaeological record for he warns attendees: “please just remember the finds that have been found previously on this farm are no longer there to be found“. How true.

If only archaeologists could tell farmers not to allow metal detecting rallies that would be great!

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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Ten million artefacts destroyed in Brazil by accident …

100 million cubic feet of the archaeological layers of Stonehenge World Heritage Site to be destroyed on purpose ….

As we continue our series, the drawn card this week is card XV of the Major Arcana, The Devil.

The Devil: “Anger, Jealousy and resentment, Self-delusion, Selfishness, Violence

This week’s site certainly covers most of the interpretations of the Devil card. Investigated by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in the 1930’s, Maiden Castle in Dorset was still in use at the time of the Roman conquest and was thought to have been the site of a major battle between the Romans and the inhabitants (the Durotriges).

Certainly, the site would have produced feelings of resentment and jealousy amongst any attackers, being the largest and most complex Iron Age hillfort in Britain.

Image Credit: © Environment Agency copyright and/or database right 2015.

The site was actually begun in the Neolithic era as a simple enclosure, and over time was extended and expanded to the extent that we see today.

Wheeler’s findings have been revisited and further analysed over time, and it is now thought that many of the more than 52 bodies in the so-called ‘War Cemetery’ potentially pre-date the Roman conquest. But it is in no doubt is that many of the dead met violent deaths.

Which heritage site would you associate with this card? Leave a comment.

Previous articles in this series can be found here.

Tomorrow two amateur archaeology groups are holding a joint meeting at Avebury with plans to do no harm whatsoever (watchword: bring books and stories to swap“). At the same time 30 miles away near Burford a thousand detectorists from all over the world are paying £52.50 each to attend Detectival, “the ultimate Metal Detecting Rally”. Many would be jailed if they did it in their own countries.

Everyone knows commercial detecting causes massive damage but less understood is the sheer scale and immorality of some events. More than 40 organisations will be at Detectival and all but one will be hoping to profit from the destruction. The other one is lending stolen valour to the event when it should be lobbying Westminster about it instead.

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An Oxfordshire County Council enthusiastic account of the event, presumably provided by PAS: “The two-day event is one of the biggest of its kind – with detectorists from the USA and from across Europe where detecting is mostly illegal.” Seriously, can any country be more barmy than that? PAS might think it’s OK to jubilate over and boost something that’s mostly illegal elsewhere but there are a lot of amateurs in Avebury who beg to differ.

PS  We’ve had just one comment from a detectorist: “Suck it up buttercup and learn to work together”. Noted and filed!

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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The Countryside Alliance’s has a risk assessment template for hunts. It says a vet must attend (presumably in case horses or hounds are hurt). The vets must abide by their own Code of Professional Conduct – to ensure animals have “minimum stress” and to prioritise animal welfare “whatever the circumstances“.

But foxes are animals. And fox hounds are bred to hurt them! So shouldn’t The National Trust insist any foxes “accidentally” hurt in trail hunts on its land will get full vetinary treatment in line with the vet’s own Code of Conduct?

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So we’re writing to Amanda Boag, President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and Hilary McGrady, Director-General of The National Trust asking them that question. We’ll let you know what they say.

News comes from the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) that they are working closely with other (unspecified) organisations to find out if archaeological sites and monuments in our towns, cities and countryside are being carefully managed within the planning process. They are looking for good and bad examples of cases where archaeology has been (or should have been) considered as part of a development. They are particularly keen to hear about developers that have ‘gone the extra mile’ in helping local communities understand their heritage through excavation or conservation and those developers who seem disinterested.

Dealing sensitively with archaeology through the planning process is a standard requirement of developers and the local planning authority. The National Planning Policy Framework (recently revised) sets out clear requirements for Local Planning Authorities to follow. As a rule, damage or destruction of archaeological sites should be avoided. Where this is not possible, there is usually a requirement to ensure that archaeology is recorded, and the results made publicly available.

The CBA is working with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) on a project that will collect information on how the current planning system is – or isn’t working – for archaeology, and they’d like to hear from you.

  • Have you ever felt frustrated or angry that your local heritage has been treated poorly?
  • Have you ever benefited from increased knowledge of your heritage because of development?
  • Have you ever felt that no one is listening, and your community’s views have been ignored?
  • Have you ever felt the opposite?

If you have any examples with a story to tell, then please get in touch with them with outline details and they’ll get back to you.

You can find more information on the CIfA website together with a link to a survey that you can use to submit detailed information if you have been or are closely involved with the planning system.

Alternatively, contact the CBA directly with your story by 21 September 2018.

 

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