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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