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Maybe it is these words from an academic that have led Rotary International to be the main suppliers of land for detecting rallies: “Empirical studies increasingly testify to the capacity for archaeological and cultural heritage sites to engender wonder, transformation, attachment, and community bonding among diverse individuals… these sites have the power to ‘enchant’ and, in so doing, they are seedbeds of human generosity, ethical mindfulness, and care for the world at large.”

But that soaring rhetoric doesn’t convey that things are very different when money or personal acquisitiveness comes into play. Did anyone from Rotary ever look at any detecting forums or go to a rally or look on eBay? Things may look the same in Britain’s fields, but they’ve changed.

Below is Sir Mortimer Wheeler outreaching to the public 85 years ago and on the right is a recent Dunmow Rotary Club Metal Detecting rally. At the latter, the interest is rather more than purely academic, to say the least. Note the finds on the right are in a glass case. You might wonder why. It’s because things have changed. Detecting rallies are NOT “seedbeds of human generosity, ethical mindfulness, and care for the world at large” and endlessly trumpeting that a minority of detectorists are “responsible” can’t change that fact.




More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting



August 2020

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