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In 2017 The One Show ran live broadcasts from an archaeologist-aided detecting rally in Water Newton. It didn’t turn out well for it was later admitted the assurance that “all artefacts will be recorded” didn’t happen. As a direct result archaeologists were forbidden from organising any more such events.

But on Wednesday the One Show featured one of the very many “detecting holidays” for Americans which have sprung up. None of them pretends to be archaeological research, they’re purely to make money (£1,500 a head in this case). As one of the Americans said, “it’s very reminiscent of pirate treasure”.

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There’s a case for bitter complaint, but to whom? Not to the BBC as they’re advised by PAS. Not to PAS, for it was there, uncritically implying to 10 million people that Britain’s archaeology is fair game for unthinking, repeated, unstructured exploitation by any random person from anywhere in the world.

Hopefully the CBA, Rescue or others will react, as the timing is perfect since there’s a current national consultation on the future of metal detecting. Maybe part of that should be that the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group is asked to view the 2007 and 2019 episodes of The One Show?

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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