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A recent Twitter thread suggests it has, for they assert that “The PAS don’t promote detecting, they take a pragmatic approach to what is allowed under the law in England and Wales. What they do promote is responsible detecting.” But in “promoting” responsible detecting they have actually aided and sustained irresponsible detecting – for anyone, no matter how acquisitive or immoral, can tell farmers they are responsible and thus gain access to fields.

Yet PAS was founded to END non-reporting! As Baroness Blackstone told the Lords so in 1992: The aim is to change public attitudes to recording finds so that it becomes normal practice for finders to report them“.  Yet, disgracefully, 28 years later most detectorists STILL don’t report what they find and PAS provides them with a verbal cloak to wear when they speak to landowners.

So the Founders’ aims have been frustrated – and saying it’s a pragmatic approach doesn’t change that reality. The Founders believed archaeology is best dealt with not by amateurs but scientifically by professionals and there’s absolutely no reason why PAS shouldn’t be saying so very clearly, to every landowner. It already has Guidance notes. This is what the Founders would want it to say:


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting



May 2020

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