Happy Holidays…

Thanks once again to John Howland for keeping things moving here on Stout Standards.   Hopefully I will be more into things after the holidays.  It’s been a difficult few days. 

Merry Christmas….




Cash for archaeological digs doesn’t grow on trees. Someone, somewhere, always has to stump up the cash, either voluntarily or through taxation. Every excavation as every skeptic knows, is labelled (by the excavators, who else?) as either, ‘nationally important’, or, ‘vast’, or, ‘will extend our knowledge…’, or, ‘vitally significant’, and so on, ad nauseam.  And so it came about that I took a sideways look at a recent splurge on the gormless Heritage Action (HA) archaeo-blog….

Persimmon Homes “have been most generous” to archaeology. Will they go the extra mile? Screams the headline on Heritage Action’s God-awful blog, padded out with:-

“Persimmon Homes are building 120 new homes and Archaeological Solutions have been carrying out the site investigation. Many Anglo-Saxon and Bronze Age features have been excavated and the day before work was to finish they unearthed their most significant find, a warrior buried with his sword and dagger…”

Golly! Gosh! Many Anglo-Saxon and Bronze Age features, eh? Hmmm.

The deluge continued, but the gobby, self-styled expert, Paul Barford, seems to have put a damper on things if his recent comment that, “digging up “such stuff is not what archaeology is primarily about,” is to be believed. Er…um, so why bother then, you might ask? It’s not as though this is the first time a Bronze Age site has been unearthed.  So, why all the fuss, or, has it more to do with employment?

The gushing HA puffery piece ends with:

“Let’s hope the people of Exning get their way. They may not as investigations are very expensive of course. However, according to Andy Peachey of Archaeological Solutions, “Persimmon has funded the excavation and as a developer they have been most generous and flexible in their approach to archaeology”. [My highlights. JH]  So maybe they won’t resist the idea of extending the dig. Building 120 houses presumably nets them a pretty massive amount of money so they can probably afford a bit more generosity!”

Which enticed one of Swift’s, Heritage ‘Actioneers’, to ask the cat-outta-the-bag question seldom used in polite archaeological circles:-

Why are archaeological digs so expensive?

The embarrassment was palpable. The answer, simply and evasively put, came via ‘Alan S’ (Who he? Dunno, don’t care) :-

Simply put? To do it right (and thoroughly) takes time and care and training. You only get one shot as an archaeology dig is by it’s [sic] nature destructive. And a great deal of the cost can come post-excavation: finds processing, writing up the investigation results etc.

All of which raises several significant questions, not least among them… how much? Obviously it’s no one’s business outside that of Persimmon Homes and Archaeology Solutions Ltd, just how big a wedge AS slipped into its back pocket. Or is it? Indeed, are all archaeological expenses to be added to the cost of the 120 new homes, or, is Persimmon Homes generously digging deep into its own coffers to cover all the costs which won’t be added to the final selling price of the new homes. One hopes it’s the latter of course, but who knows? Currently AS charges around £240 ($384) per hour for the kind of post-excavation reports, finds processing and writing up the investigation results, that ‘Alan S’ soothingly reassures us is so expensive.

If as he claims that, “an archaeology dig is by it’s [sic] nature destructive” then there is a strong case some might feel, for not doing the excavation in the first place thus saving hardworking families from the possibility of extra debt.

Moreover, as ‘Alan S,’ writes, “And a great deal of the cost can come post-excavation: finds processing, writing up the investigation results etc.” Now we all know thanks to information published by the archaeo-blogger and detector/collector-hating Paul Barford, a Brit who lives in Warsaw and who styles himself as an ‘archaeologist’ (albeit an undistinguished one), that there’s a major heritage scandal hanging over Britain. In one of his rants he reckons that hundreds of thousands of unreported excavated items are laying unclassified across Britain, languishing in sheds and hangars; which does not bode well for any excavation. As for, “finds processing, writing up the investigation results,” only time will tell.

While the UK’s detectorists have taken recorded finds with the PAS well past the million mark leaving archaeology sprawling, the likes of Swift, Barford, and Gill, to name three of archaeology’s intelligentsia not known for their approval of detectorists, continue to play the ‘profiting from the heritage’ card against them. But is there any difference between hobbyist detectorists making a profit from their legal and wholesome detecting and collecting activities, and private commercial archaeological outfits doing precisely the same? The well-respected AS describe themselves thus:-

Archaeological Solutions Ltd is an independent archaeological contractor specialising in the full range of field archaeology investigations (consultancy, archaeological assessments and evaluations, archaeological excavations, building surveys and post-excavation services), nationwide. It provides an archaeological service to both public and private sectors.

Perhaps Persimmon Homes should adopt Heritage Action’s (read, Nigel Swift’s) advice published earlier this year, “The Portable Antiquities Scheme is to advise landowners to “ask to see all archaeological finds”. It’s the equivalent of the Government or police warning old ladies not to agree to let someone take things away unseen from their loft.”

AS, being the professional outfit it is, will I suspect, have already adopted Swift’s advice.




Well back in July we highlighted that Britain’s largest metal detecting shop, Regtons, was marketing lots of the night vision equipment loved by nighthawks as “metal detecting accessories” and we asked the public to write and ask them to stop. It took a while (and our reminders in August and September) but at last they’ve deleted all such items from their site. Well done Britain, you look a tad less oikish today.

The same types of night vision equipment I’m delighted to report, are currently on sale and have been for many weeks, at Joan Allen’s excellent detector shop at Biggin Hill.  The other lie being that it was not letter-writing pressure that Regton’s gave up the night vision franchise as Swift would have the world believe.

*With more than a tad of irony, the headline wording is somewhat unfortunate given Nigel Swift’s unfounded allegations of ‘muscular outreach’ by detectorists objecting to his insults.




It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages…..Henry Ford


I’ll see y’all in the bar!

Have a great ‘hoiking’ Christmas season and I’ll see y’all in the New Year!



Filed under Metal Detecting

2 responses to “Happy Holidays…

  1. Well pointed out and said John. Merry christmas and happy new year to all at Stout Standards

    • Bloody Hell Andy….you’re the last person I thought would agree with anything I said. But, it’s appreciated.
      Have a great time in what’s left of Christmas.
      John H

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