He wouldn’t be the first to suffer from that! (Ask a succession of Culture Ministers!)

Now he’s used awkward verbal gymnastics to justify keeping the Parthenon marbles: When you move cultural heritage into a [collection], you move it out of context. Yet that displacement is also a creative act“. But surely creating a colonial narrative at the expense of the Greek one is damage not creativity?

Worse (given his position): does he think “displacement” of 12 million recordable finds from Britain’s fields without reporting them to PAS or anyone else is creative? Last week we complained MPs are underinformed about that scandal. Is Mr Fischer equally unaware else why say something so at odds with the domestic experience of his organisation?

It’s not a good look: the Head of the BM saying “the marbles will never be returned” while tens of thousands of detectorists are signalling to him “You will never be told what I’ve found.” Perhaps there’s a conversation to be had between Mr Fischer and PAS about the reality of most “displacement” in Britain?

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“Displacement is good. (It’s creative, innit?)”

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More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting
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By “British desease” we mean our detecting free-for-all in which detectorists alone advise farmers whether detecting on their land is OK. Swedish detectorists want Sweden to emulate us by specifically prohibiting archaeologists giving expert advice to farmers. And they’ve started a petition calling for it!

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The title is pure spin. It’s not to help them “save history”, it’s to enable them to detect without archaeologists telling landowners when it would cause damage. “Help us cause damage” would be a more honest plea – for why would anyone want to keep experts from giving advice unless they had something to hide?

Predictably, many British detectorists are supporting it – and that fact  alone should be sufficient warning to the Swedish authorities to ignore it.

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The world’s first iron bridge has now been fully restored and opened.

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This free view (from 1780 by William Williams) has been immaculately preserved for posterity, not hidden.

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Update 31 January 2019
As if to counteract the shame, English Heritage has just tweeted:
“Our latest blog explores the developments in the care and conservation of Stonehenge in the 21st century – an immensely exciting period of archaeological discovery within the World Heritage Site.”

“Previous care” is zero justification for future theft. Ask the Public!

See the recent evidence of it. Now there’s more: publicity for the first time about the total paid out to detectorists. “Payday for metal detectorists … The life of a metal detectorist can very well pay off, it seems. The average treasure find reported to the authorities and valued last year made £2,671, it has emerged, a total value of £643,683 across 241 items.”

A big change of tone. Up to now the Treasure Registrar has spent years lauding the minority who refuse a reward. Now it’s less about “heroes”, more about “treasure hunters”. Also, the Treasure Registrar has just hosted the curator from the (much more financially modest) Danish “Danefae” system for …. “a great knowledge exchange“!

It looks very much as if, in anticipation of likely post-Brexit austerity, there’s a concerted effort to convince the public that rewards should be reduced. Which is mighty ironic since most detectorists seem to have voted for Brexit!

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It’s not exactly hard to see, given the large number of detectorists and the relatively small percentage of people listed by PAS as “finders”, that an awful lot of detectorists – the great majority – don’t report all or even any of their finds and as such are knoweledge thieves who harm the rest of us.

So the fact PAS never says so makes PAS complicit and means our elected representatives are kept unaware of the problem. But WHY does PAS say nothing? Well, the broad answer is that PAS sees its own welfare as lying in not offending detectorists. Not that it admits it. But four years ago this week, just for a moment, it said so to its staff:

pas PRE xMAS

Tragic, isn’t it? For a good legal reason they insist their staff don’t criticise single individuals by name. Yet they are all perfectly free to criticise the thousands of unnamed detectorists who act just as badly. Yet they never do.

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On this day 61 years ago, The Quarrymen performed at the Cavern Club, Liverpool. One of their members went on to write a song with relevance to the current plight of Stonehenge. So ….


 

Imagine ….
A private individual building a wall to hide a much loved national monument and then charging people to see it.

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Or Imagine ….
Someone from English Heritage breaking into The Tate and stealing this painting by John Constable and then charging people to see it.

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Unimaginable? Yet EH wants to block the free view from the very spot where both Constable and Turner stood and then to charge people to see it! And you can be sure it’s been a long-held ambition for here are the words of their Chairman in 1995, ruminating on the fact they may have been “losing” more than £500,000 a year [vastly more now!] simply from the free view available on the A303… “There is considerable interest among private lenders…. After all, there is already a revenue stream, and you don’t need much imagination to see how it might increase sharply.

And that’s how we’ve arrived at this unimagineable position.

“It’s our responsibility to make sometimes difficult decisions that will ensure it [Avebury] is here for another 5,000 years and beyond”…… while supporting a massive trench through the Stonehenge landscape that will ensure it stays scarred for far longer than 5,000 years!
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Now The Trust has announced it will focus this year on the history of protest at its sites. Clang goes the meter again for entirely by it’s own action and inaction respectively, it has spawned two huge protest movements – against its continued support for a short tunnel and failure to end trail hunting on its land.
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.That’s what happens if you forget your raison d’etre. (Forever? For Everyone?)

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Dear Fellow Landowners,

Last week a chap asked if he and 500 chums could hold a detecting rally on my farm “for charity and Britain”. I support both so I said yes, if you’re insured. He laughed and said “Definitely. Through the National Council for Metal Detecting. For £10,000,000“. But last night, down at the Black Sheep and Wellies, my neighbour told me 3 things:

  1. he’d heard from a National Council for Metal Detecting official that the insurance cover is for each individual detectorist NOT the event, so if anything goes wrong and the organisers can’t identify the individual, they can’t claim.
  2. He’d also heard that cover usually doesn’t extend to non-UK residents
  3. Nor ever to detectorists who act unlawfully (which they might well if they cause you damage).

That worries me, especially as I know detectorists are fond of protection – for themselves: A forum moderator said they should all get a finds agreement because “Should there be unknown dangers on the land, such as concealed shafts, hazardous soil, badly driven tractors, savage dogs etc and you are unlucky to suffer injury, the contract can be a very useful document.”) So I think I need more clarification, maybe in the form of a Comment below from a rally organiser or The National Council or The Portable Antiquities Scheme, or all three, repeated in the farming press. It’s a bit important so you might feel the same dear friends.

Best wishes

Silas Brown,
Grunter’s Hollow,
Worfield,
Salop

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For ages we’ve said Glasgow University should add a 5th type of “nighthawking” to their Encyclopaedia: “Having permission to detect but not revealing a find or misrepresenting its worth”. Now, the Sentencing Council’s new Guidelines on Theft Offences seem to suggests that’s true, for they identify:

3 relevant offences
1. “Going equipped for theft or burglary”
2. “Handling stolen property” and
3. “Making Off without Payment”
and 4 indicators of high culpability
1. “If the offender abuses a position of power or trust”
2. “Deliberately targets the victim on the basis of vulnerability”
3. “Attempts to conceal or dispose of items”and
4. “There is evidence of community/wider impact.”

Clearly, if you don’t show a find or misrepresent its value, all 3 offences and all 4 high culpability indicators are present! How is that not theft while detecting, i.e. the fifth (and vastly most common) instance of nighthawking?

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