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In 2012 we shamed Regtons, Britain’s largest detecting shop, into abandoning their support for the dishonest National Council for Metal Detecting Code in favour of the official responsibility code. Sadly they’ve now gone back on that.

It’s sad but also symptomatic of how things are. Almost every detectorist and detecting club and pay-to-dig outfit tell farmers they follow that NCMD code and are therefore to be trusted. Yet, for the avoidance of all doubt, here are the two carefully crafted con-tricks that code embodies:


1.) “Report all unusual historical finds to the landowner”
“Unusual”, see? Instead of “recordable”. Which leaves the detectorist free to decide which finds, if any, he reveals to the landowner.

2.)Acquaint yourself with current NCMD policy relating to the voluntary reporting of portable antiquities”
“Acquaint yourself with”, see? Not “comply with”. And to be doubly sure, the NCMD policy doesn’t insist on reporting all recordable finds to PAS anyway.


Clever, n’estce pas? Every day, thousands of detectorists tell thousands of farmers they’re “responsible”, not by pledging they’ll follow the official code but by waving a shameful, self-serving piece of paper which hides the two messages “we don’t have to show you anything unless we judge it to be unusual” and “we don’t have to report all recordable finds to PAS.” It would be nice, wouldn’t it, if PAS, CBA and Rescue pointed this out to farmers and explained that only the official code will do. Any chance?


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting



September 2019

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