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Of course, as a “Green” she’ll be bitterly attacked by those with a vested interest in exploitation. Which brings us to Central Searchers. They say the reason so few finds from their rallies get recorded is that the FLO [Helen Geake]has a standing invite to our digs but we never see her.

But that’s nonsense, they can easily report finds whether an FLO is there or not  (and incidentally, four FLOs attended their summer rally!) The real reason is their notorious Rule 14: “finds can be retained by the detectorist alone as long as its value is no more than £2,000“.

You can guess the sort of people that attracts. And even if something worth far more is found it’s likely the farmer will still get nothing – for guess who says what it’s worth? (And of course, in those circumstances, neither the farmer nor PAS will be shown, lest the alarm is raised. No wonder FLOs hate attending.)

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It’s almost a year since the US left UNESCO. Will Britain follow? Apparently not, for when International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt suggested we stop supporting UNESCO she was slapped down by Number 10: “There has been no change to our commitment to Unesco.”

But it’s not certain. Back in 1985, the Thatcher Government launched some Trumpish populism against UNESCO: its activities had “too often been used as a medium for Communist rhetoric” prompting a youthful Jeremy Corbyn to say it was not about that but about “the power of the far-right in the United States.”

Does that sound familiar? And something else said back then has a modern resonance: UNESCO had “spent too much money in Paris on too many meetings and too many studies, often of doubtful value.” Er … like meetings in Paris expressing strong opposition to the short tunnel for instance?!

That opposition is the grit in the pro-tunnel vaseline. Might the British Government conclude it would be best if UNESCO was no longer supported and could be presented to the public as a mere bunch of expensive timewasters? (We do wonder how would that play in the consciences of pro-tunnel archaeologists!)

Communist timewasters, the grit in the tunnel vaseline

Yet again a Highways England press release has revealed more than they intended. They announced a further six weeks of work on and around the A303 Countess roundabout from Monday, November 4, involving the drilling of boreholes and digging of trial pits, but then comes this strange claim:

The survey work in no way pre-empts the outcome of the Development Consent Order Examination, which concluded earlier this month.

So: they are saying their excavations won’t pre-empt the scheme outcome or (according to the dictionary) forestall it, prevent it from happening or make it unnecessary or impossible.

So as we’ve previously feared, it seems that if “Unlucky Henge” or other archaeology is found during survey work, it won’t affect the scheme! (Indeed, the question arises, would the details even be published until it’s far too late?)

American Joseph LaFargue’s reaction to the imprisonment of the Leominster Hoard thieves was: “Finders keepers…losers weepers is what we say here in the good old U.S. of A”.

Of course, the view of American metal detectorists wouldn’t normally matter, but for the fact that hundreds of them come over here on organised detecting holidays to find what they can. How many of them think like Joseph?

The holiday companies say everything found by their clients is reported to PAS and may end up in a museum. But their customers are fresh off the plane from a culture where, apart from on Federal land, you really can help yourself and keep it. How many American detectorists can be trusted to divest themselves of their life-long conviction that a government taking a man’s property away from him is an unacceptable and despicable feature of European socialism? Should our customs officers be alert?

So you’ve been on a £2,000 history holiday have you sir? Anything to declare?

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For over 20 years detectorists have been cajoled and flattered in a mostly vain hope their behaviour will improve. But now “speaking softly” has been supplemented with “carrying a big stick”: two detectorists (and a crooked dealer) have been jailed for 10, 8.5 and 5 years for theft and concealing a hoard.

Hopefully, these severe sentences for treasure theft will send a signal to the thousands of detectorists who don’t show landowners and/or PAS their non-treasure finds. That too can involve theft, despite any dubious “finds agreements” so they’ll know fines or even imprisonment are possible.

Are we about to relearn after 20 years of “education and outreach” that the most effective element of the strategy is intolerance? The rest of the world knows it is and indeed Britain has its own compelling proof: wild birds’ egg collecting is no longer a real problem thanks to (a.) adequate punishment and (b.) the lack of a quango constantly telling the public “responsible egg collecting” is fine!

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At last! The end of the back-slapping, laissez-faire, look-the-other-way, let-farmers-and-society-be-ripped-off strategy?

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John Aubrey, Monumenta Britannica:

“… southward from the Towne stand two great stones, sixty-five paces distant from one another. The east stone is nine foot high, and as much broad: halfe a yard thick. The west stone is eight foot high and about six foot broad, halfe a yard thick.” “One of these stones was taken down by a farmer about the year 1680 to make a bridge of.”

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Have you ever wondered how English Heritage committee members can reconcile their support for the short tunnel with their duty to “care for” ancient monuments?

Surely “massive new damage” and “caring for” are irreconcilable? Well, ten years ago (in Section 6.4.b of the September 2009 minutes of the English Heritage Advisory Committee) they came up with a disreputable suggestion to disguise the damage v caring quandary: “public benefit”, “economic benefit” and “other benefits” should be combined into a single term!

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“Members felt that the phrase ‘public benefits’ should be used with caution, due to the difficulty in defining how public benefit is judged. It was suggested that one single term could possibly be used to cover ‘public benefit’, ‘economic benefit’ and other benefits ….”

Sad and telling, is it not, that a conservation body should have been trying to conflate public benefit with economic benefit and indeed in so doing precluding all talk of negative cultural consequences? Yet now their successors are doing much the same: the short tunnel scheme will deliver massive cultural damage, so much that UNESCO opposes it, but English Heritage blithely confronts that reality by re-branding the damage as cultural “improvement”.

On this day 15 years ago the Speaker invoked the Parliament Act bringing an end to foxhunting in England and Wales yet two members of the Kimberwick Hunt (including their President) have just been convicted of animal cruelty having been filmed pulling a fox out of an artificial earth  by the tail before sending hounds after it. A local said: The footage is sickening and has shown the rest of the country what most of us who live in the Kimblewick hunt’s country already know: so-called ‘trail hunting’ really entails hunting foxes as before the ban”.

On the other hand, the National Trust tells everyone it has imposed controls which preclude cruelty. Really? Are their rangers always there, deep in every wood? It’s to be hoped that at the next AGM in less than a year the Membership will call a halt to this management doublespeak. But in the meantime there’s something else which could be done…

The Countryside Alliance’s has a risk assessment template for hunts saying a vet must attend (presumably in case horses or hounds are hurt). The vets must abide by their own Code of Professional Conduct – to ensure animals have “minimum stress” and to prioritise animal welfare “whatever the circumstances“. But foxes are animals too! Shouldn’t The National Trust insist any foxes “accidentally” hurt in trail hunts on its land will get full veterinary treatment in line with the vet’s own Code of Conduct?

Not to do so would signal they were cruelty-enablers and guilty of hypocrisy on an epic scale. Heaven forfend!

 

This week an article about metal detecting in an Essex newspaper ….

fell into a black hole  – and came out in the early 1950s !.

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A helpful County Council leaflet might well have been issued to every child in case the “wonderful education” resulted in many of them taking up egg collecting (rather than ornithology) when they were older …

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As you may know, if you allow metal detecting on your land you should follow the official Guidance for Landowners: “Ask to see all finds and ask that all archaeological finds are recorded with the PAS.”

But have you ever wondered if you (and PAS) are being shown everything the detectorists are taking home? The limited number of finds PAS records each year scream loudly that a vast number are going walkies. So YOU may be losing out, big time. Fortunately, it’s very easily checked:

You could buy something on EBay like this “Rare Old Collection of Small Coins” for £19.99, put a distinctive mark on them and bury them 3 inches down, next to a distinctive boulder. If they’re brought back to you, fine. If not, and they’re no longer in the ground, well, it means you’re losing far more than £19.99, and maybe many thousands.

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UPDATE: here’s a relevant discussion from the largest metal detecting forum implying metal detecting rallies and commercial events pose the greatest risk of dishonesty. Swany wrote: Wed Nov 13, 2019 8:17 pm Not good, just wondering if these paying peeps will be declaring finds to the landowner and Flo’s. I know where my bet will be going. A good Few £££’s to detect, so finds most likely will go under the radar.
That’s what I think also. If people have paid a lot to detect then there maybe less incentive to declare anything of value they find. Farmers / landowners need to get wise to this, they could be losing out big time in the long run. [Topic speedily deleted, as always!]

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