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After so many years of  us being blaggarded by detectorists and derided by PAS Rescue has published its Policy for the Future conforming with much that we and Paul Barford have been saying! Their central assertion, the absolute game changer, is that Rescue believes that unregulated hobby detecting and other fieldwork does not contribute sufficient value or information to our understanding of the past to justify the damage caused to the wider archaeological resource”.

Revelling in being entirely vindicated is childish, so we’ll refrain.

Their message couldn’t be clearer: unregulated metal detecting isn’t sustainable so Britain shouldn’t tolerate it. That’s perfect timing in a week when we proposed that “sustainable metal detecting” is the only metal detecting that is justifiable in a country which respects its own heritage and that new phrase has generated a rise in Google hits in a few days from zero to 1,670. It seems like a concept whose time has come, but only if the CBA gets on board too. But why wouldn’t it? Here are some more things Rescue said that we’re virtually certain CBA agrees with:

  • We have concluded that the current system for regulating the recovery of archaeological evidence by non-professionals in the UK is inadequate.
  • The PAS has been unable to sufficiently advocate for archaeological methodologies and rigorous survey practices to underpin artefact collecting
  • Rescue calls for a national investigation into the feasibility of a licensing system for all archaeological work, including metal detecting.
  • We will advocate for all metal detecting, fieldwalking, excavation and other intrusive survey to be subject to prior authorisation
  • Rescue will also advocate for the introduction of legally enforceable compulsory reporting of all recovered archaeological material
  • We will support the creation of antiquities legislation for England that requires all offered for sale to be fully and legitimately provenanced….

It’s to be hoped the CBA will confirm that it DOES indeed agree with all that Rescue has said on this matter because for the Council for British Archaeology to be at odds with the Council of The British Archaeological Trust would surely be an intolerable situation for British archaeology?


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting


October 2018

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