It’s now 17 years since the prestigious Society of Antiquaries provided us with unequivocal support for our suggestion about how to radically reduce the amount of historical knowledge loss that happens on a large scale in our fields every day.

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The Society of Antiquaries, London, Newsletter 5 December 2005: “In a balanced and well-argued paper, Heritage Action also sets out an agenda for more responsible metal detecting. It states that ‘the majority of detectorists still don’t report their finds to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and that ‘growth in willingness to participate in the scheme has been slow … Heritage Action recommends that property owners and farmers should only give permission to detectorists to carry out surveys on their land if they agree to record and report their finds. ‘All metal detecting must start with a question: “May I detect on this land?” Our aim is to ensure that everybody’s answer is always: “Only if we can be sure you will report to the Portable Antiquities Scheme”.

Nothing could be simpler or more effective than for the Portable Antiquities Scheme and the archaeological Establishment to convey this advice to all landowners. What possible reason could there be for it not to have been actioned long ago? How much knowledge has been lost in the meantime?