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The Portable Antiquities Scheme seems miffed that some of us are not impressed by their 1.5 million milestone. So be it, we aren’t going to pretend that ten times more recordable finds are probably being deliberately hidden from them than aren’t. PAS spokespeople are curates, praising an egg that is good in only a very small part.

We’d be FAR more sympathetic towards them if they gave discredit where it’s due, and said so to farmers (which is their duty as a conservation body). They could start by condemning these tricky words which are conveyed by detectorists to virtually every landowner:

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  • The “Code of Conduct” mentioned is a weak-as-dishwater NCMD-authored one, not the official one, but you’d have to read the above words several times to realise that. Read it yourself, again, to see we’re right. Would a busy farmer notice?
  • The words “reference to” do not mean “adhere to” or anything like it. Indeed, how could they, the NCMD doesn’t even support the official code, they’ve refused to sign it!

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So the words are clearly designed to mislead. Let PAS tell farmers the document is worthless, not leave them misinformed. Then, maybe, they can start taking credit for sincerely trying to do the right thing for landowners, taxpayers, and the resource rather than being passive accomplices in widespread farmer-fooling.

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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