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How come we reward detectorists for reporting their treasure finds when the law says they must? It’s because if we didn’t many of them wouldn’t. For proof, see how the number of reported finds rocketed when rewards were introduced. So clearly “rewards” is a misdescription. They’re ransom payments, but marketed Whitehall style, in line with Sir Humphrey’s book of tricky words!

“Best call the ransom payments “rewards”, Bernard. Don’t want the public getting upset about paying for what’s already theirs.”


OK, so paying ransoms is clearly the only way we can get all of what’s ours from detectorists (though not, NB, from amateur or professional archaeologists or the kids in my village). But surely PAS and the Treasure Registrar go far beyond what’s necessary when they invariably praise the minority of detectorists who turn down a reward and never stress that most detectorists do no such thing and many fight hard to get higher payments!

And how come the number of cases where the reward is reduced for “bad behaviour” is so tiny? 20 cases in 13 years? Pull the other one! So it all looks like a case of image adjustment, something far beyond Sir Humphrey’s intentions. He just wanted to dress up ransoms as rewards but his quangos have taken to actively obscuring the fact that the people who endlessly proclaim they’re “not in it for the money” endless demonstrate they mostly are. Why?


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting


November 2018

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