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The 6 academics including from PAS who recently sought to downplay Dr Sam Hardy’s conclusions have “clarified” their astounding claim that non-reporting isn’t damaging: “We feel that our paper too has been misrepresented in reactions elsewhere on the internet.” “It should be obvious that it was not intended to propagate a liberal, ‘pro-detecting’ viewpoint”

No, it’s not obvious! On the contrary, saying non-reporting isn’t damaging is supporting the very worst of detectorists! It can’t even be dismissed as an isolated mistake for a Finds Liaison Officer has just repeated it: archaeological evidence unreported by detectorists is “not necessarily being destroyed, rather extant but unknown“..

What the hell is going on? Is this a final shift in position? For 20 years, instead of condemning non-recording (and stressing to the Government that it’s rife) PAS has embraced, liaised, engaged, backslapped, bootlicked and flattered those who do it in the hope they’ll desist. Having finally seen they have failed (as Dr Sam Hardy has shown) are they excusing it? If PAS is soon to be wound up by the Government is this the message that will be broadcast – it doesn’t matter because the great majority we haven’t persuaded don’t do any harm?

 

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Where’s this ….. ?

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How come we reward detectorists for reporting their treasure finds when the law says they must? It’s because if we didn’t many of them wouldn’t. For proof, see how the number of reported finds rocketed when rewards were introduced. So clearly “rewards” is a misdescription. They’re ransom payments, but marketed Whitehall style, in line with Sir Humphrey’s book of tricky words!

“Best call the ransom payments “rewards”, Bernard. Don’t want the public getting upset about paying for what’s already theirs.”

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OK, so paying ransoms is clearly the only way we can get all of what’s ours from detectorists (though not, NB, from amateur or professional archaeologists or the kids in my village). But surely PAS and the Treasure Registrar go far beyond what’s necessary when they invariably praise the minority of detectorists who turn down a reward and never stress that most detectorists do no such thing and many fight hard to get higher payments!

And how come the number of cases where the reward is reduced for “bad behaviour” is so tiny? 20 cases in 13 years? Pull the other one! So it all looks like a case of image adjustment, something far beyond Sir Humphrey’s intentions. He just wanted to dress up ransoms as rewards but his quangos have taken to actively obscuring the fact that the people who endlessly proclaim they’re “not in it for the money” endless demonstrate they mostly are. Why?

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Here’s what we said exactly 9 years ago about paying rewards for obeying the law instead of increasing the penalties for disobeying it. We still stand by it:

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Let us pay detectorists the complement of treating them like the rest of society, not as a group that includes an invisible but existing proportion of feral crooks that need vast payments to ensure they don’t break the law and murder our cultural heritage. What other sector of British government policy copes with public damage caused by moral imbecilism by PAYING people to act properly? And what country in all the world but Britain, dresses such a policy up as sensible? No, we suggest Britain saves those millions of pounds and spends them on childrens’ hospices.


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Man goes into museum, with permission. Pockets £5,000 jewel which he knows does not and never can belong to him. Treasure Registrar announces “Do bring it back, we’ll give you a £5,000 reward and a Certificate of Appreciation”.

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(You might expect as much from some quangos which are arms of Government but what the hell is the National Trust playing at?)

Britain’s policy on detecting is elegantly simple: it’s fine if “responsible” (as defined in the Code of Responsible Detecting). The trouble is the code doesnt say “do no damage” or say how much damage is tolerable so landowners aren’t told that detecting may damage the resource and will certainly deplete it. That omission has another regrettable effect: it means there’s scant chance of long term reform other than to spend another 20 years trying to persuade more detectorists to convert from acting very badly to merely acting badly.

Of course, Archaeology is damaging too but a rather more sustainable approach has been developed for that: mandatory standards effectively defining the acceptable limits of damage by requiring work to be sparing, thorough, skillful and with specific aims and criteria. So archaeologists aren’t free to act like “responsible detectorists”, which is why you never see one detecting at a rally!

In 2016 the PAS conference discussed “Can Detectorists be Archaeologists“. Someone should have stood up and said ” “Yes of course they can – but only if they act like archaeologists, not like responsible detectorists.” But no-one did, which is a mark of the stranglehold of Britain’s metal detecting policy.  Still, I intend to present all the above analysis, uninvited, at next year’s PAS Conference in the form of a truth haiku. Book now to avoid disappointment.

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.                                Responsible? Yes
 .                               But never sustainable.
 .                               So laudable? No.

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A PAS employee has said one of our recent articles is “fake news”, “a sham”, “click bait” and “full of half-truths and outright lies”. Wow, we beg to differ (it’s here, if you’d like to decide for yourself).

We feel PAS management has no businesss allowing such attacks on ordinary, concerned members of the public (that’s us!) who have every right to be resentful of the vast quantity of knowledge theft which lies behind the decorative PAS database. Particularly using the crude Trumpism, “fake news”. In reality we’re sincere and we’re entitled and a PAS employee shouldn’t imply otherwise.

If PAS management wishes to say we’re not sincere and not entitled let them say so. And if they wish to say we’re wrong that a vast quantity of knowledge theft lies behind their data base, let them. And let them use that specific phrase, knowledge theft. They never do. Blaggarding, it seems, is reserved for the undeserving.

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.To Dr Isabelle Anatole-Gabriel, Head of Europe and North America Unit, UNESCO WH Centre:  i.anatole-gabriel@unesco.org

Dear Dr Anatole-Gabriel,

We are a group of concerned people who run the The Heritage Journal on which short comments are published by contributors on issues of concern relating to archaeology and the historic environment.

We believe it is wrong that the current plans for a tunnel at Stonehenge would result in the loss of the ancient view of the stones from the A303, described recently by Lord Adonis as “the most striking, historic vista on any road in Britain.” We submit that this view which has informed and inspired millions of travellers for many centuries comprises a form of visual access, often the only one that many individuals will ever experience, and as such is of incalculable cultural significance.

Accordingly, may we propose that the importance of the view should be reflected in it being considered for inclusion in the list of intangible attributes of the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage Site and thereby given maximum protection?

Alternatively, do you feel, as we do, that the view is already embraced by Attribute no.7 – “The influence of the remains of Neolithic and Bronze Age funerary and ceremonial monuments and their landscape settings on architects, artists, historians and others” – particularly as “others” comprise millions of passing travellers, each enjoying their own unique benefit. 

 

What good are Autumn colours at night? The answer is clear.

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Last Saturday the National Trust Chairman said “we will only support a scheme that protects the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage Site”.  That sounded fine but he failed to tell his audience that UNESCO says the scheme does not protect that very thing! What the Trust is supporting – but almost never mentions – is the complete removal from sight of what Lord Adonis, previous Secretary of State for Transport has just called “the most striking, historic vista on any road in Britain”. Let’s repeat it: the most striking, historic vista on any road in Britain.

We should stress, since the tunnel advocates never have, that for most people that view is actually the most cherished element of the Stonehenge landscape for it is visual access, enjoyed, free, for thousands of years by countless more millions than have paid or will in future have to pay to visit the Stones. Yet both it and therefore Stonehenge itself will be rendered invisible by the tunnel for most people. For them, Autumn colours will only be seen at night. For an organisation with the watchwords for ever for everyone to support such a thing is outrageous, there are no other words to describe it.

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