You will have a hard time changing my mind…

Received an email last night from Dan LaMontagne, who took me to task a while back on the American Detectorist forum. You can view that orignal back and forth   here.  With his permission I share his recent email here (un-edited), as well as the PDF  attachments he sent….

Hello Mr. Stout,

I thought you would like this info especially after our exchange on the American Detectorist forum. After reading this you could say the recent bad detecting  shows that depict our hobby in such a negative light may have at least gotten “the powers that be” comming to the table to exchange concerns, info and to find  some “common ground” . I was a little surprised at how we “amature archaeologists” were not entirely looked down upon, and actually revered for our skills with  detectors, research and local historic knowledge by RPA,SHA and SAA. Well not really, after working closely with archaeologist for the last 3 years i felt this  appreciation and respect alot. Mr. Stout I still stand by my original statement, the wheels are moving because to much can be gained by working together. My only  part of this story is “where was the FMDAC all through this ” they are suppose to be an advocate and promote metal detecting, i think they missed a huge  opportunity. you take care Mr.Stout and i encourage you to “drop by the forum” to visit.


Dan LaMontagne

The attached documents….






Dan, thank you for taking the time to send the email and the accompanying documents. From what I have read this all has to do with the National Geographic “Diggers” show, and how to make it more palatable for everyone concerned. While I agree with that I still have my doubts that anything correct will come of this.

To me the most telling document was the summary of the workshop proceedings. I counted thirteen members of the archaeological community, one metal detector manufacturing rep (Minelab), and one detectorist (or to use their term, one avocational metal detectorist).

While ready this summary a few things bothered, starting with…. “There was an overall agreement that AMD (avocational metal detectorists)activities should be conducted within the parameters of professional supervision.” and “This kind of oversight is key in determining where metal detecting may be conducted, how it is to be conducted, and how the discoveries that AMD’s make are best recorded, reported, and utilized with the goal of recovering information from the past.”

Another that bothers me….”The model of having objects recovered by AMDs donated to local museums or other repositories where the AMD is given recognition for the  discovery of the object, and where the object is made available for exhibition remaining in privately held collections (What does “privately held” means exactly?).

They go on to mention the UK’s Portable Antiquities Scheme, but add….”although the compensation portion of the UK model remains controversial.” In other words, God forbid you should be reembursed for your research, your time and effort!

Then later….”At the same time there was general, though not universal, recognition of the considerable skills that expereienced AMDs have in the use of metal detectors both in recovering objects and locating undiscovered archaeological sites.” Well, of course we are nothing more than amateurs.

Then when discussing the possibility of creating a similar PAS here….”However, the element of compensation of AMDs and landowners for recovered objects is widely seen as a major inducement for people to engage in metal detecting for financial gain, labeled by some as “professionally licensed” looting.

Apparently the arkies want to be with us at all times, tell us where we can detect, give us written credit for finding things, but if they happen to be worth anything, forget it.


I could go on and on with my thoughts on this topic, especially the meeting summary, but will not simply because it’s something for one of our national organizations to take on or get involved with. Dan, as for the FMDAC, I haven’t a clue what their status is and have given up hope for any kind of realistic action they may take in the future. Likewise the Taskforce for Metal Detecting Rights seems to have gone into hibernation, as their website has remained the same since May. WWATS is pretty much the same….

As for me, I have given up on the possibility of any reasonable, realistic pact with the archaeological community. Their goal since the late 70’s has been to put us out of business, and I see nothing here to indicate a change in that objective. To them we will always be amateurs, grave diggers, pot robbers and looters….

Dan, thanks again for sharing all this, and I really hope you make a liar out of me. I would love to see something similar to the PAS over here. Unfornately I have just seen too many years where “token crumbs” are thrown our way, and after pissing in the wind way too many times, I have given up.

Perhaps others reading this will take up the issue, do something and share their views (there’s a place on my blog for comments). I would welcome that…..

And where did the term AMD (avocational metal detectorist) come from? Do you have the feeling they really wanted to use the word “amateur” but didn’t want to say it in public?



Sunday I found myself really enjoying the day… The temps were around 86, the winds were brisk, and it reminded me of metal detecting back home.  I truly believe the fall season is the time of year when metal detecting is at it’s best. Perhaps it’s a carry over from the East coast, but I can remember  those fall days when the air was fresh, the leaves were bright colors, thick on the ground, and my enthusiasm was at it’s peak. Fall here in Texas is  certainly better than the extreme heat of summer, but it just isn’t the same….

Fall detecting means peace and quiet…..

Yes, the days are shorter, but the kids were back in school, not bothering you with the “what did you find mister”, and the anticipation was always higher than  normal. I couldn’t wait to hit those old picnic groves , parks, and fairgrounds. No sweating, summer rains to make digging easier, and no reason to look over  your shoulder. Funny how things like this stay with you, and despite wanting to go back and do them all over again, it just never seems to happen.

Fall in the Northeast is really something special, and I miss it very much….



Filed under Metal Detecting

6 responses to “You will have a hard time changing my mind…

  1. Robbie

    Avocational- One’s regular work or profession.
    Profession– A calling requiring specialized knowledge.
    Profession derives from the notion of an occupation that one “professes” to be skilled in.
    So we are regular workers skilled with special knowledge, from what he just named us ——“avocational metal detectorists”. Our school is ——years of detecting the ground.

    • Robbie, have to disagree. Avocational means:

      An activity taken up in addition to one’s regular work or profession, usually for enjoyment; a hobby.

      And to me that’s another way of putting us down.

      • Robbie

        Metal detectorist = hobby for fun, excercise and comraderie
        Archaeology=job for slight recognition and little pay

        No wonder they don’t like detectorists .. ;oP

  2. The success of programmes like those on the NG Channel seriously wounds archaeology, and archaeologists in particular. The popularisation of the metal detecting pastime for Everyman, and portraying it rightly, as a healthy, educational hobby, horrifies them. Their ivory tower existance is being shaken by the fact that there are more people engaged in metal detecting/treasure hunting than there are in archaeology.

    There is absolutely nothing ethically, or criminally wrong, with selling artefacts legally found whilst metal detecting or as a result of orthodox archaeological excavations. The fact that selling artefacts is an anathema to (some) archeologists is thier vocational choice, and they are free to dabble in the antiquities market if they so choose. Many do.

    The so-called ‘workshop’ was a clumsy piece of pseudo-academic conferencing flooded with heritage types in an attempt to dissuade further popular programming. That the so-called AMD’s allowed themselves to be shafted in this way hardly surprises me.

    What we are witnessing here, is in effect the NRA and its members being co-erced to hunt game on vegetarian anti-hunt ‘principles’.

    Using the patois of academia, I suppose I must be an ATH…. Avocational TREASURE Hunter.

    • I agree John. When I read Dan’s comments and read through the materials, it was obvious that he was encouraged and excited to see a meeting where an archaeologist (actually a lot of them) sat down with “a” treasure hunter to discuss matters. It isn’t the first time something like this has happened, and won’t be the last, and it’s time we stopped acting like a child at Christmas when it does.

      We have constantly been fed crumbs over the years, but nothing at all has really changed. When a meeting takes place where they accept our right to pursue our pastime without their “supervision”, and when they start treating us as something more than amateurs, I might change my mind.

      In the meantime let’s stop “drooling” over merely being present at a meeting where they verbally put us down and treat us as second class citizens.

  3. Interesting that my biggest fan Mr. Barford has already jumped on this post, picking out those paragraphs that serve his lifelong desire to see us put out of business. What a guy! The sheer number of posts he puts up daily (look at the times) and the sheer lack of responses should tell you all you need to know about this individual……

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