Our Erosion Counter continues to grow inexorably. On the last day of 2020, it showed 6,972,338 recordable artefacts dug up with only 1,516,359 objects (in 971,530 records) in the PAS database. It still runs on our original estimate of 8,000 active detectorists but as everyone now agrees, there are now vastly more of those so in July 2018 Paul Barford produced a revised counter amalgamating our figures and Sam Hardy’s. That now shows an estimate of 8,760,847 artefacts dug up (and accelerating fast).

Paul calls the figures a “mitigation failure”. But we do wonder why “mitigation” is still an aim at all? With the country in such a parlous financial state, why are we spending time and money on effectively preserving and rewarding a mere leisure activity that causes massive net damage?

Wouldn’t the money be better spent on amateur archaeology, rambling, sport, museums, education, housing, the NHS, developing lab-grown meat, ballet, reducing poverty, and almost anything else you can think of? Why, when Archaeology prides itself on maximising knowledge while minimising damage are archaeologists supporting damaging behaviour much of which is little more sophisticated than that of chimps? We’d be glad to hear a rational  answer from PAS or anyone else but are willing to wager we won’t.


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting