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In 2014 I wrote …

Dear Fellow Landowners,

This week I’ve been puzzling about this: why, if “metal detecting good practice” is so desirable, hasn’t it been made compulsory?

A detectorist on a forum has just provided a clue. He complained that a PAS document reproduces the official Code of Practice but it “omits the basic fact that is a VOLUNTARY Code.”  Think about that, Friends. Why on earth would anyone worry that its voluntary nature wasn’t stressed? After all, as everyone says, “responsible detecting” is an entirely Good Thing for the more it is followed, the less heritage damage there is. Every detectorist that has ever come to my gate says they follow the Responsibility Code for that very reason. But here’s a thing you might not realise: detectorists only support it if it is voluntary!

The truth of Bonkers Britain is that a few thousand people (and absolutely no-one else) are adamant that they must retain their freedom to choose not to comply with the code if it suits them. They comprise only 0.015% of the population, 1 person in every 6,000, yet their threats to defy any element of compulsion that is proposed have rendered the introduction of “compulsory good practice” completely impossible – in a highly developed, educated, conservation-minded Western democracy.

Let me put it like this: imagine if a tiny (and demonstrably selfish) section of the British population had successfully threatened and lobbied for the past 40 years to prevent any drink driving laws being introduced!

You want freedom to misbehave?

Your friend,

Silas Brown,
Grunters Hollow Farm,


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting


October 2022

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