Bournemouth Brief…


Mary Shafer has a great website and her latest article Detecting Culture is spot on…

Take your time with Land Matters….could help in your research….

Otherwise as far as I’m concerned, meh….


The following came via Bournemouth and surely a sound mind and clear head…..


After  a Few Beers….

John Howland

beer5“The times they are a changing” as Marshall Dillon (I think) once said, and today, the Intertube rules with de rigeur homemade videos on the pastime. It’s the new media – “Turn on, tune in, drop out” as some smart-arse 60s icon once spouted. I’m a 60s child too, and lived through the so-called ‘swinging era’. I once asked my then girlfriend if she really believed in free love, “Have I ever charged you?” she replied. Sheesh!

These Intertube hobby videos are fun to watch with many of them high calibre productions and certainly interesting. Some of course are the ‘kin pits, written by knuckle-draggers for knuckle-draggers – but that’s enough about archaeology! The Intertube is the way to go and why shouldn’t detecting enthusiasts record their experiences and/or finds online? Every other conceivable hobby or pastime has them, so why not ours?

What I’d really like to see – apart from more cammo and wet T-shirts – is a Night-hawking video. How do these people find this alleged ‘treasure’ in the black of night? Jeez, I have enough difficulty finding it in broad daylight let alone in total darkness. Better still, I’d like to know why, when they find this alleged ‘treasure’ they risk their liberty for a fraction of the items’ actual monetary worth.

To my way of thinking, if you’re staring at being a guest of Her Majesty for potentially six-months (or longer), having been nabbed in flagrante at a protected site, then perhaps you really do deserve what’s hurtling down the track towards you. Consider the ‘receiver’ of your ill-gotten gains – sometimes a bent archaeologist (yes, they do exist). He paid you in used, untraceable notes, at a fraction of the true market value and all risk-free. Who’s the mug?

Some years ago, when I wrote the regular angling column for a major magazine, I received an email from a guy who’d been caught fishing without a licence. “What can I do?” he wailed. “Simple’” I wrote back,” Wear a suit and tie in court, comb your hair, plead guilty, pay up, and look big.” The moral being, if you are detecting where you shouldn’t and get caught, my sympathies are with the authorities; you deserve all that’s coming.

The publication of the so-called Nighthawking Report, undertaken by Oxford Archaeology (OA) at a cost of £60,000 was the best thing that’ happened to the hobby in years. This influential report exposed ‘Nighthawking’ in the UK as being almost non-existent. The report confirmed that alleged looting incidents averaged out at less than two a month; but only if one assumes (without hard evidence) the holes in archaeological sites were indeed dug by rogue detectorists; though the more probable explanation being the natural, nightly doings of badgers, rabbits, and the like. The report was effectively, a kick in the teeth for metal detecting’s opponents.

I doubt the address of OA’s Oxford headquarters, Janus House, Osney Mead, has been lost on some of the ‘antis’ ensconced in the depths of the Council for British Archaeology; Janus being the Roman God who’s often depicted as having two faces. Oh, how I feel their pain!


In one hilarious media incident, some years ago, holes that regularly appeared overnight in the grounds of a ruined abbey were attributed to illicit detecting by one prominent archaeologist – widely known for his opposition to metal detecting. The culprits were in fact abbey ‘residents’; a healthy colony of rabbits. To the casual observer his ludicrous assertions appeared factual. To the less relaxed – including some in his own sphere – it raised questions about his ability as an archaeologist; if he couldn’t differentiate between shallow holes in close proximity to rabbit droppings, what price then his excavation reports?

Indeed, the Nighthawking Report proves what we in the hobby have known for over three decades; that a well-connected and noisy claque of anti-hobbyist ‘spinners’ – mostly comprised of jaundiced and undistinguished archaeologists and the heritage circus’ Luddite faction are still trying to feed the media with diet of fact-free propaganda to counter Oxford Archaeology’s excellent report.

The UK’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) has left these rabble-rousing activists in its dust as the metal detecting hobby and the PAS continue to gain in stature while adding considerably to the UK’s archaeological knowledge. The PAS’ database is now eagerly sought out by free-thinking researchers and unprejudiced academics who recognize the magnitude of detectorists’ extensive input to the common good.


I’m given to understand that at Christmas 2017, there’ll be a Saudi version of one of the UK’s favourite pantomimes; Ali Baba and His 40 Thieves. It’s been renamed I’m told, to be known as – Ali Baba and His 40 One-Handed Archaeologists. 


Some years ago, when I did more international detecting than at present, I found myself at London’s Heathrow Airport check-in desk ready for a detecting sortie to Turkey, when the man in front of me turned to his wife saying: –

“I wish I’d brought the piano,”

“What in Heaven’s name for?” she replied,

“’Cos the f******g tickets and passports are on it.”

Oh, how she laughed!


From the One and Only…

“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.’……Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra

I’ll see y’all in the bar!





Filed under Metal Detecting, UK

5 responses to “Bournemouth Brief…

  1. Good post, John. The YouTube debacle that has been raging in metal detecting of late, is two-fold I think. I have a channel in there myself somewhere, but I rarely do many vids anymore, as it takes too much time away from the actual hobby itself. Hard to dig targets while manhandling cameras and small tripods; it kind of reduces the enjoyment of the salt air, and, in the early morning, a bit of solitude with WORK. And, if you are going to do a weekly tube “show,” like a real network reality show, your going to have to make up “content” on dry days when the targets are few and far between. Maybe add a little drama by falling in a stream or an “attack” by a fierce rubber snake. I’ve seen it done and it ain’t pretty.

    One of my real pet peeves with detecting tubers is a few producers love to loudly proclaim, en vid, WHERE they are metal detecting, causing a mad rush of every stripe of metal detectorist to the location, leaving a bombed-out look and not even a pull-tab remaining. And yes, it is for “likes” and “views” and monetizing their YouTube account, and maybe selling a few of their custom T-shirts or something.

    Our local “big box” metal detecting store regularly promotes a “YouTube Star” commenting on how many views their channel has. When you finally get to meet and greet them at the event, you find they know very little about metal detecting, but a lot about promoting themselves.

    I have a very few channels I enjoy watching regularly, one being from Queensland Australia, where a guy and his wife regularly metal detect in the outback with Garrett equipment. Excellent, no-nonsense production values, coupled with their research and on-site recoveries make it a pleasure to watch and interesting to boot! Overall, though, there are now so many Facebook pages and YouTube channels about metal detecting, I find it may be attracting the attention of the authorities here in the U.S. and that cannot be a good thing.

    Cheers, John!

  2. Hi Jim:
    Why is it a bad thing that the authorities might be interested in the hobby? I welcome their intrusion. I’m legal!

    As to Intertube vids, many of them are pure, 24-carat bull***t, others are kosher. Hah,ha, send the knuckle-draggers elsewhere, NEVER to one’s own sites!

    These tossers can’t even be bothered to find their own sites preferring to leech off others for their finds. That’s their problem, but where the Richard-heads choose to loot others’ areas, so too, do some easily-led academics. One East Anglian academic to my knowledge, ran a cadre of nighthawks taking a share of their spoils having given them the sites in the first place. I met this asshole once and he knew that I knew what he was up to.

    And people wonder why I’m a cynic!


  3. Paul Barford

    eat your words Howland!! On basis of new3est estimates, huge number of non-reporting artefact hunters in UK

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