Paul Barford has been wondering, tongue in cheek, why archaeologists and detectorists have been pretty quiet about recent suggestions for future much needed PAS funding. The reasons are actually clear. Take these funding suggestions:

  • Give PAS a percentage of Treasure rewards
  • Mandatory licensing of detectorists
  • FLOs charging for their services such as attendance at rallies.

They’ve all been proposed before – including by us. But invariably detectorists have reacted with fury and say they’ll go on recording strike or turn to nighthawking if anyone tries to make them pay. PAS seems to have little understanding of the nature of its “partners”. So far there have been sixteen threats to go on recording strike, mainly over perceived threats to their “freedom” to do what they do for free.

What on earth did PAS think most detectorists were in the fields for – for an unselfish love of history?

It’s that unshakeable opposition to paying that is surely behind detectorists’ current silence – and indeed the silence of archaeologists (including PAS in private) – they know detectorists won’t pay. If you doubt a word of this we suggest you go onto a metal detecting forum and suggest licensing, a reduction in Treasure rewards or payments to PAS. Let us know what happens.


PS – Paul has reacted to the suggestion people ask detectorists on their forums if they would pay by saying “I know six academics who I suspect would find it an eye-opener to do this, to test out the truth behind their cuddly-wuddly head patting fawning on these ‘non-professional metal seekers’. Do they have the intellectual courage to do that? Well, five actually. The PAS delegate knows already. The others – well, naive and ill-researched hardly covers it – quite an accusation to level at academics but how the hell else can you explain it all? But we’ve been pleading with archaeologists to do it for 2 decades. If they look on the metal detecting forums (especially the “dark” sub-forums you have to be “trusted” to get into) they’ll rapidly see their perceptions of heroes and partners are plain wrong.

Incidentally, “cuddly-wuddly head patting fawning” is just about the most accurate description we’ve heard – and remarkably it’s unique to Britain!


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting