Most public landowners disallow metal detecting on their land “unless as part of an archaeological project”. It’s to maximise the knowledge dividend from the activity and minimise the loss. How sensible. But only 8% of land is in public ownership. 92%, including a block of 37 fields near Sunbury upon Thames where today’s massive “Detectival” event is happening, have no such safeguards.

How is this possible, in logic? Is archaeology on privately-owned land less precious? Clearly not. There’s no rational conservation reason why archaeologists shouldn’t be giving the same advice to farmers as they give to public landowners. Yet Detectival is happening. The event highlights an intellectual and physical rift which is very damaging to our national interest and serves only to make Britain look entirely foolish, as much of the world knows very well.

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A physical and intellectual rift?

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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