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Judging by the huge scale of attendees, traders, and financial takings, yesterday’s Detectival metal detecting rally was a resounding success. We’d like to tell you exactly where it was but that was a secret divulged only to those who paid. We’d also like to show you an aerial image but daren’t as we know we’ll be hit with lawyers’ letters. So instead, here’s an image of a different detecting rally:

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Notional farmer Silas Brown’s detecting rally in Shropshire, February 2014. There was no charge and it was organized on the Surrey Council premise: that applicants would be considered to be part of an archaeological survey and be expected to have proven track records in reporting and recording. Finds would normally remain the property of the Council.

No one turned up, no doubt because it was a notional event, but Farmer Brown received angry messages from detectorists indicating that even if it hadn’t been they wouldn’t have. The contrast between that rally and the Detectival one, and the reason, must be obvious to every archaeologist (and every politician if told.) It seems pretty dishonorable for a country to tell the general public that the pursuit of personal gain is beneficial in exchange for whatever crumbs fall off a finds table. Who gains from that?

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