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The proposals (in the words of Mike Heyworth) involve “far-reaching (and possibly controversial) suggestions about ownership of archaeological material in general, mandatory reporting and permit systems to regulate what is today just a free-for-all in most of the UKand there are “considerable concerns over financial value approaches to portable antiquities”.

There’s are some predictable opponents: a detectorist writes “Thanks to the myopic and compliant Department of Media Culture and Sport, unsurprisingly, this Marxist nightmare is about to come true” (!!) and a US coin collectors’ lobbyist warns clients a permit requirement could be used to preclude detecting from archaeologically sensitive areas” (But WHY would they be against that?!)

Fortunately the proposals originate high in the Government, as part of Brexit planning, so won’t be “emasculated” this time. Indeed, they may be further improved so we’ll approach the protection elsewhere, e.g. in Ireland where the leaflet below has been in every library and police station for years. British archaeologists have never disagreed. Soon they’ll be free to say so.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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