Give a dog a bad name.
The Ancient Monuments & Archaeological Areas Act became law in 1979 whereupon swathes of countryside were designated ‘off limits’ to anyone using a metal detector without official permission. Consequently, many prosecutions followed and some people found themselves branded as thieves picking up criminal records along the way.
However, someone in the depths of the Civil Service having responsibility for Scheduling the UK’s 166,000 monuments and archaeological areas to bring them under the umbrella of the 1979 Act, didn’t! In consequence, there are people probably reading this who were convicted for illicit detecting when in fact no offence was committed.
If you think you fall into this category, then maybe you need the services of a lawyer with a view to compensation for having your name besmirched by an undeserved criminal record?
Q. What’s the difference between a large pizza and a degree in archaeology?
A. A large pizza can feed a family of four.
Don’t be a Muppet!
A Surrey man has been ordered to pay a fine and legal costs totalling over £1,000 by local magistrates after having been found guilty of theft and failing to report a find to the Coroner. The man who had been metal detecting on private land without permission found a gold Bronze Age ring which he failed to report to the Surrey Coroner. He was summoned to appear before magistrates in April but failed to turn up at court and an arrest warrant was subsequently issued; he was arrested some days later.
To avoid getting into the kind of scrape the Surrey man got himself into, become firm friends with the Treasure Act; it’s not rocket science. By understanding your legal obligations; by liaising with the PAS and FLO’s, avoids any later misunderstandings. Inadvertently straying onto neighbouring land where permission to hunt hasn’t been granted or sought and finding an object within the definitions of the Treasure Act present is undoubtedly problematic. First and foremost report the find to the FLO and take advice. The fact that you have reported the find despite it being found in a place where you did not have permission to detect demonstrates a degree of honesty on your part which goes a long way in your favour.
Navigating and map-reading errors happen; if you’ve strayed inadvertently, admitted the error, and reported the find in accordance with the law, that to my mind is the end of the matter though you may receive a ‘reminder’ from officialdom to take more care in the future.
The vast amount of significant discoveries made by detectorists – numbering over one million registered on the Portable Antiquities’ database – illustrates the colossal contribution they have made to our cultural heritage. Most level-headed people recognize detectorists are Treasure Act literate as the PAS statistics show, something that has catapulted the metal detecting hobby into the limelight; they being the prolific heritage contributors.
Two blokes were walking through a cemetery when they happened upon a tombstone that read:
“Here lies John Sweeney, a decent man and an archaeologist.”
One asks the other: “Why the hell have they put two people in one grave?”
The Council for British Archaeology’s website cites four reasons for parting with one’s ‘hard-earned’ in order to become a member which includes is this little gem:-
‘Encourage good practice in reporting archaeological finds.’
Which of course raises a couple of salient points:-
1. This strongly suggests bad reporting practice actually exists in archaeology (as many of us already suspected).
2. For the po-faced CBA to sniffily suggest detectorists are lacking in good reporting practice is unalloyed humbug especially when their website also carries this:-
Evidence from the past is fragile and should not be damaged or lost in an attempt to generate financial profit for individuals.
To which I say….physician, first heal thyself! It’s entirely wholesome to generate or make a financial profit from the past; the CBA is not the arbiter of good taste, moral values, or ethical standards despite its lofty imaginings.
Being an educational charity, the CBA ought to follow its own dictum and gets its reporting house in order. Its high-horse posturing might be taken less risibly if for example it withdrew its tacit support for (as a start) the widely discredited, bizarre, and inaccurate, Artefact Erosion Counter, a cock-and-bull story masquerading as scientific. Presumably the AEC in the CBA’s eyes constitutes ‘…good practice in reporting archaeological finds.’ So much for archaeology being a science you might think.
Quite how, as the CBA puts it that: ‘The best way to extract evidence from the ground is via controlled, high-standard archaeological excavation,’ gels with both the aforementioned AEC and the CBA’s desire to, ‘Encourage good practice in reporting archaeological finds,’ is anyone’s guess. The CBA should ensure good practice among its members in reporting archaeological finds by aligning itself and its members to the PAS and by taking a leaf out of metal detecting’s book.
In the meantime, it’s still, Bah! Humbug!
WHERE I SHOP
If and when you visit the UK make it a point to stop at Regton Ltd., and tell Nigel Ingram I sent you. His shop will knock you over. Be sure to peruse the goods in this 365 tour…
A VIRTUAL TOUR – REGTON, LTD., BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND
Hypocrisy is great fodder for comedy (Mo Rocca)