We have loads of visitors here (4,000 in the past four days and lots more on social media) yet we’ve received zero answers to yesterday’s simple question by Farmer Brown: “If metal detecting good practice is such a good thing, how come it’s still only voluntary and hasn’t been made compulsory?”. Guilt from detectorists and embarrassment from archaeologists perhaps? What they should be openly admitting is that detectorists resist reform and threaten lawbreaking or recording strikes if their “freedom” to ignore good practice is curtailed. Here are some things they’ve threatened PAS with on their forums:

Don’t criticise us or we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t tell us what to do or we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t undertake surveys of nighthawking else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t let PAS dominate us else we’ll stop reporting” (and later: “Don’t reduce PAS’s funding else we’ll stop reporting”), “Don’t impose a Code of Responsible Detecting else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t discuss licensing us else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t ban inappropriate rallies else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t impose restrictions under stewardship schemes else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t tighten up EBay else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t ever, ever, ever short change us on the Treasure rewards else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t abate our Treasure rewards for not calling an archie out else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t talk of using some of our Treasure rewards to finance proper excavations of our findspots else we’ll stop reporting”, “Don’t write to farmers without us dictating what is to be said else we’ll stop reporting” …. and now… “Don’t extend the items covered by the Treasure Act beyond exactly what we say else we’ll stop reporting.”

Sad, isn’t it when a tiny group is standing in the way of something that would benefit the whole of the public? We recall that five years ago, almost to the day, we wrote: “The public is entitled to be bitter – not merely because the bulk of a hobby has cocked an 18 [now, 23] year snook at the rest of us but because The Archaeological Establishment is still not publicly admitting the fact.”


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting