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Frankly, that’s bizarre. Metal detecting has been a useful part of archaeological projects for years but it requires minimal training: follow a grid, swing it low and slow, stick a flag in where it beeps and tell the archaeologist. Who can’t do that? Certainly a detector tied to the tail of a dog would suffice.

An offensive image? Not as offensive as kidding the public otherwise. The “skill” detectorists claim is in recognising whether a beep is a worthwhile target for them but in archaeology all targets are worthwhile. So getting Oxford involved in “training” is a worry, especially as it is being promoted by The Association of Detectorists, who are trying to give metal detecting an archaeological spin.

It is to be hoped that in future no detecting club will turn up at a farm gate, sans an archaeologist and armed with an Oxford Certificate, claiming they’re there to carry out an archaeological project. They won’t be, they’ll be there to artefact hunt, which is recreational exploitation for personal benefit, not the same thing at all. PAS should warn farmers and Oxford should read a few of our articles.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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