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The Current Archaeology Live conference took place over the weekend. Sadly I was unable to attend once again this year but true to form, the award winners were announced during the Friday evening reception.

The winners in the various categories were as follows:

Archaeologist of the Year (sponsored by Andante Travels): Alison Sheridan

Research Project of the Year (sponsored by Export & General Insurance Services Ltd): ‘Life beside the lake: opening a window on the Mesolithic at Star Carr‘, University of York/University of Newcastle/University of Chester.

Rescue Project of the Year (sponsored by Oxbow Books): ‘Roman Writing on the Wall: recording inscriptions at a Hadrian’s Wall quarry’, University of Newcastle/Historic England.

Book of the Year (sponsored by Butser Ancient Farm): ‘Life and death in the countryside of Roman Britain’, by A Smith, M Allen, T Brindle, M Fulford, L Lodwick, and A Rohnbogner.

The winner of the World Archaeology Photo Competition, sponsored by HiddenHistory and judged and presented by Adam Stanford of AerialCam, was Gavin McGuire.

Our hearty congratulations go out to all the winners with commiserations to all the nominees who came so close.

by Nigel Swift

For many years officialdom said artefact hunting was amateur archaeology, citizen archaeology, responsible detecting and even “PAS partnering”. But such claims were always against much embarrassing contrary evidence. “Random”, “selective” and “acquisitive” are hard to clothe in archaeological garb.

So lately a new phrase has been adopted: “metal detecting enthusiasts”. It’s in hundreds of press reports (often after PAS employees have been interviewed!). It’s hardly informative about what detectorists do but it has the two virtues of being factually correct yet incapable of being discredited by bad behaviour!

We think the earliest British coining of the phrase was March 2008 by rally organiser Norman Smith (he of the famous phrase “illegal detecting is now virtually non-existent”) but it gained little traction until recently. Now, a Google search for “metal detecting enthusiasts” gets you an amazing 8,710 hits!

I don’t know about you, Dear Reader, but I think this whole process is wrong. Creepy, even. The public, farmers and posterity are being misled and ill-served through Britain’s silent protection of industrial-scale treasure hunting.

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Even the T-shirt makers know what’s going on.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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