The View Across the Pond…

The following is John Howland’s take on yesterday’s post….

You Could be Drinking in The Last Chance Saloon

howlandscriptI and Dick Stout have been fighting arkies and their bonkers archaeo-politico drivel for over three decades and I can tell you that were I on their side, I’d have the hobby – especially in the US – nailed down with the sale of metal detectors governed by licence along with laws in situ to imprison erring hobbyists.
I’d have the hobby firmly under archaeological control to the extent you couldn’t fart without a crack across the knuckles. How come? Simple. In the main US Tekkies are – unlike other hobbyists or sportsmen – slow to respond to danger and mostly display symptoms of mass apathy. The US hobbyists – if the arkies fully realised the advantage they have – are a pushover. I could knock out metal detecting in the US inside of eighteen months.

In the UK the reverse situation exists; here Tekkies were smart enough to put mouthy arkies to the sword in debate – and still do – especially where a loony fringe of politically motivated archaeological boors spend an inordinate amount of time attacking the Government-backed Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) that works closely with Britain’s hobbyists in bringing detector-found antiquities to the fore and is a world leader.

The fringe opposition to the PAS is understandable, since it confers a much-hated respectability on the hobby of metal detecting, which in itself is a punch in the mouth for those individuals and archaeological organisations that have spent decades trying to have the hobby outlawed. The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) is typical; even to giving credence to oddball calculators, graphs, and other schemes based on supposition and guesswork. When it comes to metal detecting the CBA doesn’t know whether its asshole is punched or bored.

Out manoeuvred in debate though not by the feeble National Council for Metal Detecting, the CBA changed tack:

“In many cases it is better to leave objects and other evidence in the ground where it has been lying safely for hundreds or thousands of years. Here it remains safe for future generations to investigate with better techniques and with better-informed questions to ask.”

To use the patois of the streets, this is of course, utter bollocks.

Running out of arguments to outlaw our hobby the smug CBA with its usual po-face, then played the ‘no-dig’ card, meaning that only they or those with their support will be allowed to dig in their Brave New Archaeological World, in effect a cartel. Unbelievably, this sewage is spewed by those who choose to be identified as ‘scholars’. Proof if proof is needed, that archaeology cannot, and MUST NOT be left in the sole hands of archaeologists who have little compunction in twisting the facts to fit any particular fabrication.

With their passion for being seen as holier-than-thou, the CBA’s website carries this; which is just about as smug as smug gets:-

“Throughout its history the CBA has played an active and influential role in campaigning for reforms of legislation, policy and practice in relation to portable antiquities – most especially in seeking to combat the illicit looting of archaeological sites and the trade in illegally removed cultural objects. The CBA continues to play an active role in this area.”

Er…aren’t we all against the illicit looting of archaeological sites? Of course we are and we deplore those so-called ‘educated’ archaeologists who have looted and stolen the heritage record common to all of us for personal gain.

The outlook is stark and what US hobbyists should strive to attain, is to have ONE national organisation RECOGNISED by federal government as the mouthpiece for the hobby. Governments like to deal with organisations and national bodies if only to garner possible votes. Therefore the WWATTS, The Task Force, and the FMDAC, are NOT cutting the mustard federally.

In order to achieve ‘single national body recognition’ a bloodbath is in the offing as each of these organisations scratch and gauge for sole recognition. While this internecine war carries on, the smart money, if there is such a thing in archaeology, will go for the jugular.

The hobby in the US is years behind that which exists in the UK – the problems you are experiencing now, we had over a decade ago. Mass apathy and bumbling inefficiency will lay the US hobby to rest and on present form, is well deserved. Then again and bearing in mind the US is a zillion times bigger that the UK, so organisational and administrative problems in setting up such a single body are magnified. Nevertheless, any regulations foisted on the US hobby will reflect the amount of protestation put up by hobbyists.

It’s up to you.



Filed under Metal Detecting

8 responses to “The View Across the Pond…

  1. I have some stuff on this on my latest blog series, about England’s most successful detectorist, Dean Crawford. Most of it is his own words he wrote especially for the blog. I will be showcasing some of his greatest finds, too.



  2. A link to John Hooker’s site…please spend some time reading John’s latest series. That is if you are really interested in our pastime and what is going on. I would also urge you to subscribe to John’s blog.

  3. He’s right. I’m not sure why, but folks in the U.S. are a passive bunch.

  4. Hi Diva:
    What I find extraordinary is that while the UK has a national body, albeit a feeble one, the US, the spiritual home of treasure hunting with a metal detector whose products are world leaders, does not. How can this be?
    Neither is it any good having a national representative body populated by part-time amateur bureaucrats – you have to go, full-on professional, backed by amateur representatives from each State and each of these drawn from respective State councils.
    This all takes money and lots of it…but the slogan; I Vote and I Treasure Hunt/Metal Detect concentrates the minds of the law makers. Votes make laws, not moral rights or wrongs, and we are in the right!

    John H

  5. Bigtony

    Could it be that we don’t have as much history as you do in Good Old England? We only had a Revolutionary war, another war with England called the War of 1812, where they burned the capital down, a civil war between the North and South, we had a gold rush and a few wagon trails across the country when folks went west because someone printed that famous line in a news paper, “Go west young man, go west”.
    That was a short amount of history – there are other big times here but – you all in good old England have us beat in that respect.

  6. Hya Tony:
    History has bugger all to do with it. This is about Rights, our/your Rights just like your ancestors (bloody troublemakers!) fought for their Rights against the British. I don’t believe there is a viable national body in the US with enough grass-roots support to represent the hobby at Federal level and thankfully, it ain’t my problem.
    Politicians ( in the US and UK) don’t give a rat’s arse for Rights unless they can see votes in the offing. Get the voting potential then you’ll see ’em sit and take notice…after all, sitting in a comfy office swilling Bourbon, having illicit affairs, being imaginative with their expense accounts, beats pickin’ cotton. Oh, yes.

    Keep smiling

    John H

  7. Bigtony

    There was a time when you could spit on the sidewalk in Washington DC too, but these days you might get a ticket for defacing. I understand the rights thing. It’s my opinion why we don’t have a national law similar to PAS is to me plain and simple, we haven’t been here as long and we aren’t pulling up tons of gold or silver hoards that date back to 1021.

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