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A FLO recently told us: “You & your ilk would have us back in the bad old days 1970s Archaeology. The rest of us have moved on. Catch up.” A tad rude maybe, about amateurs who help pay his wages and who’ve been studying this issue since he was at school?

Plus, he’s totally wrong: we don’t want the 1970s, we want the reverse, detecting regulated by law like nearly everywhere else. And why is it different here? It has to be PAS, a fine idea on paper but doing what its founders never dreamt it would: seeing its own interest in constantly telling Parliament and the public it has knowledge theft under control! It doesn’t. The vast majority of finds are NOT reported and it’s getting worse as the number of detectorists has ballooned. So we’re the only country with a band of archaeologists acting as cheerleaders for metal detecting despite the massive net damage it does.


PAS Conference 2018: “The British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) has recorded over 1.3 million finds – each one a unique discovery made by a member of the public. This conference celebrates 15 years of the Scheme


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But the unreported finds are vastly greater, why not mention it? If each was an inch wide they’d now stretch from the British Museum almost to Bristol. You won’t hear that said or even denied at the PAS Conference or anywhere else. Still, the pending changes to the Treasure Act suggest there are many who now DO know the scale of the knowledge theft. Our ilk are happy to take a bit of the credit for that.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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