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What if you find a hoard but the FLO is on holiday? PAS has just said this is OK: “If the findspot is public and it is not safe to leave the find in the ground, you may feel that you have to lift it yourself.” No! Even though there’s a danger some of a detectorist’s mates might come back at night and steal the hoard that’s not an excuse for him to dig it up himself. Ever.

We’ve said so before (e.g. in November 2011 and in both July and November 2015) but PAS doesn’t listen to amateurs unless they’re detectorists. But we’ll repeat it here: if you want to be regarded as a history lover, a responsible detectorist, a potential reward recipient – or even just a half-decent citizen,you MUST take on the role of guardian on behalf of the State and spend sufficient time and money to ensure its security. What sort of entitlement-obsessed person wouldn’t?

Here are some of the blindingly obvious ways it can be done: Detectorists can wait in their cars overnight, security firms can be hired to work nights, including at Xmas, lighting rigs or generators can be hired for £37.50 per 3 days, a farmer’s flatbed trailer can be parked over the find.


““there was no way we could guard that hoard overnight”… Oh really?


In 2011 the Salisbury Museum director was glad a detectorist had stopped digging the Tisbury Hoard but said you could count on two hands the number of Bronze Age hoards which have been recorded professionally by archaeologists in this way”. Have things changed in the subsequent 9 years? Hardly, and it won’t until PAS stops giving detectorists a perfect excuse for digging up hoards or graves in future: “I was alone, my phone battery went flat, so I got out my long spade and “did the right thing” OK?” The bits are in this bag!”  What a damn scandal!


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting


January 2020

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