March 24, 2015
You couldn’t make this up!
“I keep coming to your blog but never see information on how to find treasure, and please can you show pictures of what you find,” writes a Stout Standards enquirer. Huh? Pardon me?
It never ceases to astound how some people actually believe there is a shortcut to success in this game. ‘Marcus’, the aforesaid enquirers, might just have well asked, ‘how to play golf,’ or, ‘how to catch bass,’ or ‘how to score with women.’
It also depends on how you define ‘treasure’? For some, it’s finding nickels, Dimes, and quarters. For others it’s uncovering relics, or jewellery; but for many, ‘treasure’ means simply being out there in God’s great outdoors enjoying the hunt and the sense of anticipation and camaraderie treasure hunting with a metal detector engenders.
If you have to ask the question on a blog, ‘how do I find treasure’, you’d be better off selling your metal detector and taking on board trumpeter Louis Armstrong’s advice that, “If you has to ask what jazz is, then you just ain’t got it.”
Richard III, England’s last Plantagenet King –
With due pomp and ceremony, the bones allegedly those of King Richard III (2 October 1452 – 22 August 1485), dug-up on 24 August 2012, under what was believed to be the Church of Grey Friars (now a car-park), are to be laid to rest in Leicester Cathedral. But, are they really his bones? Have archaeologists made history’s most monumental cock-up? Certainly some experts believe so.
Carbon dating tests, according to author Dominic Selwood, date the bones to between 1430 and 1460, and 1412 and 1448. “These dates,” he wrote recently in the Daily Telegraph, “Were then adjusted with a statistical algorithm because he ate a lot of fish, resulting in a new range of 1475 to 1530. Really you might as well stick a finger in the air.”
Selwood remains unconvinced, inasmuch that the expected male-line DNA is not present, meaning that either the bones are not Richard’s, or that the Plantagenet blood line was broken by illegitimacy.
Foremost Richard III scholar, Professor Michael Hicks, calls into question Leicester University’s assertion that a 99.999% certainty exists of the bones being Richard’s, pointing out that all anyone can be sure of is that the bones belong to someone having the same female-line DNA .
Historian, Nigel Jones, takes another tack that even if the bones are Richard’s, there should be no homage or burial ceremony of a Holy nature for a man who he describes as a “psychopathic serial killer who eliminated his imagined enemies: friend and foe, adult and child.”
The infamous ‘Princes in the Tower’ murders were doubtless choreographed by Richard III when he had the young princes, Edward, and Richard, smothered by hired assassins. His equally notable victims include the last Lancastrian monarch, Edward VI, who Richard is reported to have strangled with his bare hands while Edward knelt at prayer.
Others on his murderous shopping list of victims included Lord Hastings; Henry Stafford the 2nd Duke of Buckingham; Lord Rivers, and Sir Richard Grey, among others.
The question that must be considered is can we believe what archaeology tells us, or has this find of bones subsequently attributed the English king, little more than worthless hype posing as fact at a time when archaeology was trailing in the wake of a series of fabulous, headline-grabbing, detector-found hoards.
Is it likely, doubters ask, that archaeologists would gild the lily? Indeed, are their methods accurate? Well, they certainly have ‘form’ on both counts. One has only to look at the Council for British Archaeology’s tacit but shady approval of the now widely-discredited embarrassing ‘guesstimate,’ known as the Artefact Erosion Counter (AEC) , a cocktail of fabrications and falsehood; effectively the modern-day version of past cock-ups such as the Hitler Diaries debacle, and the earlier Piltdown Man fiasco.
Is the heritage safe in the hands of archaeologists? Maybe not, but who guards the guards? Inevitably, archaeology must come brought under greater scrutiny and control rather than allowing the dog’s breakfast of the AEC kind to run wild, thus bringing archaeology into even greater disrepute. Perhaps the PAS needs to be extended to curb the excesses.
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters”….. Albert Einstein
I’ll see y’all in the bar…
February 28, 2015
GOT THE GEAR BUT NO IDEA?
In the trout fishing world ‘tackle queens’ are not an endangered species, quite the contrary. You can spot these peacocks strutting the banks of most (expensive) game-fishing venues bedecked in, and carrying, the very latest Hi-Tech reels (or line holders, as they are known amongst angling’s impecunious proletariat), Hi-Tech rods made from a mix of NASA space alloys and carbon, along with all manner of ‘must have, guaranteed to catch’ flies and lures dangling from their designer fishing vests. Designer Baseball caps, and designer shades complete the ensemble.
For some unfathomable reason these ‘birds’ are rarely seen at the weigh-ins; this being the exclusive haunt of the sports ‘hobos;’ guys (and gals) with more fishing savvy than money who regularly catch fish….big fish on well-worn tackle that in some cases, cosmetically speaking, has seen better days.
Nevertheless, ‘quality’ in the hands of the skilled angler comes close to perfection; elsewhere, in lesser hands, ‘quality’ is as much use as a concrete parachute. The legendary US angler, Swiss-born Charles C Ritz once said, “It’s not the rod that catches the fish, but the hand that wields it.” The same axiom applies to treasure hunting with a metal detector, and Ritz’s words for some reason are ringing in my ears with the announcement of a new all-sing, all-dancing, offering from the Antipodes.
GPZ 7000 – THE FUTURE OF GOLD DETECTION IS NOW HERE!
TAH – DAH!
Who says so? Minelab says so, and are according to their panting blurb, are, “…excited to announce our new flagship gold detector, the GPZ 7000. Equipped with exclusive Zero Voltage Transmission (ZVT) technology, developed by Bruce Candy, and state-of-the-art features, the GPZ 7000 offers the deepest ground penetration and represents the most significant advancement in gold detecting technologies in years. This revolutionary gold detector will discover the deepest gold in mineralized ground and has the highest sensitivity available to detect even the smallest traces of gold.”
“While ideal for the professional gold miner,” a Minelab spokesperson continues,“ The GPZ 7000 is also a perfect fit for relic hunters who demand superior performance and want to recover targets deeper than ever before possible.” Or, is that likely to be pull-tabs deeper than ever before? Not at ten Grand a throw, surely? It’s all down to Zero Voltage Transmission (ZVT) technology? Huh? Y’all got me there sports! For an explanation in layman’s terms of what this “deepest ground penetration” technology is all about, I checked Minelab’s Patent data:-
Constant Current Metal Detector with Driven Transmit Coil
US 20140232408 A1
A metal detector transmitting, through a transmit coil, a repeating transmit signal cycle, which includes at least one receive period and at least one non-zero transmit coil reactive voltage period; and sensing a current in the transmit coil during at least one receive period to control a magnitude and/or duration of the at least one non-zero transmit coil reactive voltage period such that the average value of the current during at least one receive period of every repeating transmit signal cycle is substantially constant from cycle to cycle, and the current during at least one receive period is substantially independent of the inductance of the transmit coil.
Ah, now I’ve got it…simple!
Kellyco are doing deals for those Tekkies into ZVT technology, and are knocking out GPZ 7000 units at the amazing discounted price of …Kellyco price…ONLY $9,999.00. (Retail $12,499.00).
Worth every penny I suspect.
When asked if they would have sex with Bill Clinton, 86% of women in D.C. said, “Not again.”
GRILLING, SMOKING & COLD BEER
As some of you know, one of my favourite occupations is stalking second-hand book shops, and it was on such a foray I secured a copy of John Manikowski’s 2004 book, ‘FISH – Grilled & Smoked’.* For me, this tome is the ‘mutts nuts.’ It’s sheer, unadulterated, brilliance…so if you’re into grilling, smoking and cold beers, this book is for you. Orgasmic!
Back in the late ‘70’s and early 80’s when I was doing the biz on a lucrative, hi-yield, ploughed roman site, Ron Scearce, and Pete ‘The Hat’, our winter’s fare was usually a large pot of chilli con carne and crackers, courtesy of a recipe Ron had garnered on one of his many treasure hunting sorties to Arizona and west Texas. We’d reheat the cauldron on-site.
It was ideal UK winter grub, loaded with chillies which had one of two effects: either it made you sweat like you was pickin’ Alabama cotton, or propelled you to the nearest hedgerow about two hours after digestion? “You sure the yanks eat this stuff,” Pete always demanded, emerging from a convenient hedgerow; eyes invariably watering.
Since those heady days I’ve got well into après hunt smoking and grilling (or BBQ-ing as we say over here) following my introduction to waterside smoking via the Swedish tackle company ABU with one of their streamside trout smokers. These brilliant gizmos measure about the same as an army mess-tin, but with a lid and easily fit into a tackle bag.
For a finger-lickin’, lip-smacking, al fresco treat, involve nothing more than laying the fish on a griddle under which is scattered a handful of hickory dust, or other wood dust, such as oak, Mesquite, Apple, or Cherry wood, depending on your taste. But use never pine wood unless you like your food with more than a hint of lavatory cleaner. When I’m out sea-fishing, mackerel are a delight done this way; head and gut the fish, slash the flanks a couple of times diagonally on each side and rub salt into the cavity and the slashes.
Leave for about fifteen minutes. Chuck a handful of your chosen sawdust into the bottom of the pan, lay the fish on the grill over the sawdust and slide the lid shut. Light the methylated spirit burner and place below the smoker. Twenty minutes later you’ll be tucking into some great food.
However, most species of fish are suitable for smokers, and ‘oily’ fish, such as bass, plaice, mackerel, trout and salmon are perfect.
If you’re smoking at home with freshly-caught fish, it’s a neat idea to ‘brine’ the fish in a ‘cure’. One that I’ve tried and can recommend, the Bourbon Cure, comes directly from John Makinkowski’s book (p199) and I’m sure he won’t mind me sharing it with you.
- ¾ Cup Bourbon
- ½ Cup salt
- ¼ Cup corn syrup
- ¼ Cup triple sec (I used Gran Marnier)
- ¼ Cup cayenne pepper
- 1/8 Teaspoon vanilla extract (1/2 Teaspoon if using the weaker ‘essence’)
- Bring all the ingredients to the boil in a 4-quart saucepan over a medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-minutes.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool. After an hour, or when completely cool, place in a tightly covered jar and refrigerate until needed.
It will keep for between 1 to 2 months in the fridge. In use, first rub salt into the fish and let it stand for about 15/20-minutes, rinse under running water, then smother the fish with
the ‘cure’, and rub it well in to the slashes and cavity. Being on the sweet side, limit ‘curing’ to no longer than 30 minutes. Place in the smoker. Enjoy.
*ISBN 1-58017-502-3. Storey Publishing
Did you hear about the archaeologist who accidentally swigged from a bottle of Tippex thinking it was liquid Viagra? He woke up in the morning with a huge correction.
Interviewer: “What’s your greatest weakness?”
Interviewer: “I don’t think honesty is a weakness.”
Candidate: “I don’t give a f**k what you think.”
A Nugget of Wisdom…
“Success comes to those who have an entire mountain of gold that they continually mine, not those who find one nugget and try to live on it for fifty years“…John C. Maxwell
I’ll see y’all in the bar!
February 17, 2015
GREEN-EYED AN RESENTFUL
Detectorists in Britain have really grabbed the headlines following the recovery of a hoard of Saxon coins at a Metal Detecting Rally much to the chagrin of some in archaeological circles.
Though some in orthodox archaeology welcomed the find as did most non-archaeologists, the press and public, many on archaeology’s Luddite wing reverted to type and spat their usual bile. In short, ‘archaeology’ is good – if it’s found by them – anything else is a ‘no-no.’
Evidently an increasing feeling amongst some of them – and this is applies equally to the US – is that we are encroaching on what they consider is their sole preserve; and because we are coming up with the goodies they should be finding, is excuse enough for them to cover their inadequacies by lobbying for the hobby banned or restricted to the extent where their shortcomings remain under wraps.
Have you noticed for example, how when WE find anything of importance, it’s ALWAYS the common heritage, but never when that when they get their sticky fingers on something allegedly important? Who for example is responsible for the hundreds of thousands of artefacts currently languishing unrecorded and unclassified in sheds and outhouses across Britain? All at a time when, the detector-fed PAS is clocking-up over one million artefacts. Perhaps it’s archaeology that should be banned? Can the common heritage be left in their buttery fingers?
The hobby’s problem however, is we lack viable governing bodies. We, the hobbyists at the coalface, know we are ill-represented and that our pastime survives not because of what passes for representative bodies, but IN SPITE OF THEM.
Maybe however, we don’t need them after all…..The following is taken from the UK’s, government-funded Portable Antiquities Scheme website:-
“Largest Anglo-Saxon coin hoard tops list of latest nationwide treasure finds”
“The coins were found wrapped in a lead sheet and buried in the ground for safekeeping. The coins are of Æthelred II (978-1016) and Cnut (1016-35), and were buried towards the end of Cnut’s reign. The lead wrapping provided protection against the elements while the hoard was in the ground, with the result that the coins are very well preserved. The hoard contains coins from over forty different mints around England, and provides a rare source of information on the circulation of coinage at the time the hoard was buried.
“Under the Treasure Act 1996 there is a legal obligation for finders to report Treasure. Since the advent of the Act the number of finds reported has increased fivefold from 201 cases in 1998 (the first full year of the Act) to 993 in 2013, and 1008 in 2014. If declared Treasure such finds may be acquired by museums, with preference going to the local museum. Of the 990 finds reported Treasure in 2012, 368 were acquired by 100 local museums, so they can be displayed to the public close to where the items were discovered. These include the Bedale, North Yorkshire Hoard of Viking jewellery, weaponry and ingots (2012 T373; YORYM-CEE620) acquired by York Museums Trust, and a Roman silver bracelet from Dalton area, Cumbria (2012 T627; PAS-A7DC11) acquired by the Dock Museum.
“Increasingly finders and landowners have waived their right to a reward, enabling museums to acquire Treasure at reduced or no cost. In 2012, 137 parties waived their right to a reward in 93 cases; more than double the number of cases five years ago. Museums have also benefited from funding being made available through the Art Fund, the Headley Trust, The Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and the V&A Purchase Grant fund, which all funded museum acquisitions of Treasure in 2012.
“Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, said:
“I’d especially like to thank the finders and landowners who have graciously waived their right to a reward so that local museums can acquire Treasure. It is an initiative that the Government has been keen to support, and it demonstrates that metal-detectorists have a genuine interest in the past, and are not just interested in archaeology for personal gain.” [My underlining. JH]
All of which raises the ugly prospect that the picture painted by archaeologists about metal detecting is a deliberate misrepresentation of the FACTS. More disturbing though, is that some of these same propagandists who are actively posting false accounts about detectorists are let loose to interpret – equivocally and without strict examination – excavation ‘data.’ If they can tell lies about detectorists, then why not about their own work to bolster claims for increased subsidies for further ‘research’ or even job security? Can they really be trusted? There must be an independent, archaeologist-free, third-party oversight.
ENVY, BUNKUM, OR JUST PLAIN ILL WILL?
RESCUE (The British Archaeological Trust), not widely known for its love of detectorists, or indeed of Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, is forever yapping about detectorists damaging the heritage with unskilled retrieval techniques; yet curiously scores an own-goal with this laughable (and telling?) emblem as its official badge:-
Ho…bloody, ho! We all know the damage these machines do when they rip through the upper archaeological layers just to get down to whatever heritage feature is currently in vogue. As to the fabulous detector-found, Lenborough Hoard, RESCUE mounts its high horse again:-
“Whilst this might represent a tasty windfall for the finder and the landowner, for the rest of us – the other 60 million plus inhabitants of the British Isles – it represents nothing but yet another lost opportunity to add to the knowledge we have about the Saxon period ….Unfortunately these hoards are rare, so there might never be another one and we might never be able to answer the many questions surrounding them. But you won’t read about that in the papers.”
Over on its website, RESCUE witters on about the Lenborough Hoard:- “The question of who, how, when and why will just have to wait for the next time. If there is one. And if that hoard is not excavated similarly poorly.”
Note also, the RESCUE’s airy-fairy claims that information has been lost…though they don’t, can’t, or won’t identify that information. The FLO who supervised the hoard’s retrieval performed an excellent job. Still, anything to smear the hobby, eh? Pull the other one RESCUE.
Consider carefully…as a registered charity you’re on thin ice with this kind of baloney. You’re in the cross-hairs. Now, that would be a feather in someone’s cap!
It’s better to practice silence than to preach bullshit…either that, or change the name RESCUE to ‘Jackanory.’*
Official Figures from the Portable Antiquities Scheme Website.Current research projects based on, as the PAS describes it, the ….”many thousands of objects are discovered, many of these by metal-detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work.”
Level of research
- Undergraduate 61
- Master’s degree 122
- PhD level research 93
- Large scale research AHRC 17
- Major publication 21
- Magazine or journal article 5
- Desk based assessment 17
- Major research (Leverhulme funded) 3
- Personal research project 88
- Archaeology society project 3
- External project (UK only) 11
- External project (International) 3
- A-Level archaeology project 5
- Total projects: 449
(Unsurprisingly, no figures for academic research projects based on the Artefact Erosion Counter are available).
I’m happy to say….
The world is not full of assholes. But, they are strategically placed so that you’ll come across one every day…
I’ll see y’all in the bar!
* Old English nursery rhyme:
I’ll tell you a story about Jack a Nory
And now my story’s begun
I’ll tell you another
Of Jack and his brother
And now my story is done.
(The rhyme was first recorded when published in The Top Book of All, for little Masters and Misses around 1760).
February 4, 2015
FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS
Over thirty years ago metal detecting in Britain reached crisis point; the arkies compared to hobbyists came across as generally brighter, glibber, better-educated, and generally on the political Left. Their case for the outlawing metal detector use along with the nationalisation of all antiquities, sounded to the casual observer, convincing.
Of the many academics advocating the Robin Hood approach to private property that of ‘robbing the capitalist rich to feed the Marxist elite,’ one an archaeologist, with impeccable ‘Hard Left’ credentials, demonstrated his Socialist principles by living in fine, baronial splendour that wouldn’t have disgraced the worst excesses of a medieval Robber Baron. One of his less-well off subordinates described him to me in rhyming slang as a ‘Merchant Banker.’
During the hobby’s battle to exist, over a protracted period of in-fighting, eye-gouging, and fighting ‘blind side’ of the Referee, the hobby won its freedom. It took time, money, and a deal of hard work by volunteers. We had some very shrewd operators on our side who stymied the European Council’s directive to limit the hobby across Europe when they turned up at the hearing – Chaired by Liberal MP, Alan Beith – where a heavy archaeological presence dominated the proceedings. After a deal of haggling, the metal detecting representatives from the Detector Information Group (DIG) were finally allowed in much to the irritation of those already present who’d imagined it was all a done deal. Strangely, no-one had thought to invite DIG to the meeting. Odd that!
Some European delegates winced and shifted in their seats somewhat awkwardly when DIG gently pointed out by to the assembled throng that the attempted outlawing of the hobby in France was based on an un-repealed 1942 law brought in by the Nazi Occupation of that country. Oh, dear!
Nevertheless, European countries are slowly coming to realise the UK’s Portable Antiquities Scheme, along with its 1996 Treasure Act, is the way forward and that they’ve been taken for a ride by the men in trenches.
In the UK finders are fairly rewarded for their honesty by reporting finds as opposed to the European alternative of unrewarded, state confiscation. In the UK instances of looting are less than the number of convictions for cycling without lights. Small wonder then, that some single-issue, compulsive obsessives, campaign vigorously against the PAS and ever eager to concoct untruths to undermine it, or to fabricate databases based on speculation. The infamous and now widely discredited Artefact Erosion Counter is one such example. I am told b some in the archaeological community that one infamous archaeo-blogger along with his bullet-makers are a severe embarrassment.
Threats to the hobby also exist in the US where influential lobbyists are spoon-fed a diet amounting to an unbalanced meagre gruel; the main ingredient being the amount of exaggeration supplied. When pressed, the ‘evidence’ is always clichéd hackneyed. Nevertheless, the diehards are constantly probing for a way through. By comparison with hobbyists, these politicos’ while lacking apathy, are fanatically driven, and it surely can’t be long before they deliver the final coup de grace in one or more States. Ask yourselves…who comes over as the more convincing…a smart-suited, narcissistic, clean-shaven, expressive arkie/lobbyist, or, someone who looks and talks like an extra hot from the cast of Duck Dynasty? You choose.
Many experienced metal detecting commentators know the US will only get the hobby it deserves – no fight, no hobby. While UK hobbyists enjoy multi-million pound government funding in the shape of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, the US is letting in through the cat-flap, hoary socialist dogma in the form of antiquities nationalisation. On present form, the US metal detecting hobby lacking eloquence at the top end, and where no-one is prepared to pick up the gauntlet, the future ain’t that bright.
Part of the overall degeneration seems to be a famine of club newsletters and a lack of inter-club communications whereby a ‘bush telegraph’ warning of impending legislative problems can be quickly shared and remedial action taken.
Maybe, what the US hobby really needs is a paid-for-by-subscription organisation staffed by skilled people well able to represent the many thousands of decent folk who want to follow and enjoy a wholesome, healthy, and educational hobby, at State and Washington level. Only you can supply the answer. Good luck.
Remember….Time is running out. Fast!
“We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.”- Calvin Coolidge
TREASURE COMES IN MANY FORMS…
No doubt about it, angling is therapeutic and frees its adherents from Life’s anxieties which according to the old maxim that goes…“The man hasn’t been born who can fish and worry at the same time.” As a lifelong angler I can attest to the saying’s accuracy. Perhaps an additional phrase could be inserted here….“Or, metal detect….”
I’d go further and say that while virtually hermetically sealed from the outside world cocooned in headphones, detectorists’ concentration is focussed in anticipation on the signals coming up from the coil. But there’s more to metal detecting than uncovering lost coins, just as there’s more to fishing than catching fish.
Firstly, there are the health benefits to consider. Apart from getting its practitioners outdoors into fresh air, there’s the exercise of bending to dig, walking and clambering, all of which improves both mental and physical health. The more hobbyists get out and about the more we absorb our surroundings. Ours is a continual learning curve not only about metal detector’s performance but absorbing the facts behind the history of what we find.
It’s also a truism that hobbyists are often anglers – or former anglers – and here’s the connection. Experienced anglers know precisely where the fish lie in the river and the riverbank features that draw the fish to that to that particular spot. They ‘read’ the river. This uncanny ability is present in experienced detectorists.
I know hobbyists who can ‘read’ a landscape and pick out the features where they ‘know’ they’ll find coins or whatever and often from a particular era. Beachcombers show the same ability to ‘read’ a beach or shoreline. Some years ago I discussed this phenomenon with an archaeologist friend (who’s since climbed high up the greasy pole of archaeological promotion) who admitted forthrightly that few archaeologists have the ‘gift’ adding that for many, it was a simply a job to be left behind when the whistle blew at knocking-off time and get down to the pub.
He accepted some hobbyists often possess a superior knowledge of history than many of his colleagues especially those who ‘pontificated’ rather than get their hands dirty in the trenches. “I don’t what this lot,” he said, thumbing in the direction of a couple of senior CBA types, “Have got against you all. We should be welcoming and capitalizing on their expertise and knowledge.”
Today in the UK the Portable Antiquities Scheme is producing superb results as the foundation for academic research. Unfortunately, a tiny minority of yappy Luddites exist on the fringes of archaeology dedicated to sabotaging the PAS. This species often found herding with the ‘pontificators’ are readily identifiable by their unexceptional, even undistinguished, archaeological ability. For anyone even loosely connected with archaeology to set out to denigrate this superb research tool, is a heritage vandal of the worst kind and just as damaging to the heritage as clandestine excavators. Their words and actions speak volumes – not about the PAS – but about them.
Nevertheless it’s imperative that records of finds are kept – whether in a private finds diary or passed on to the relevant data collators such as the PAS. There is nothing inappropriate about selling finds provided a written record exists of the find-spot. Even historic finds found on a beach should also be recorded. This coin found by me might signify an offshore roman shipwreck, for it’s unusual to come across this class of ‘find’ on a beach.
Dupondius. Rome mint. Emporer Domitian. Circa AD 85. Found with Garrett ATPro and Super Sniper coil in among an exposed low-tide, rocky reef.
Despite what the empty-headed and mouthy critics yelp, the number of class and wedding rings, medals, lockets, and badges of sentimental value that are returned to their original owners through sheer detective work by hobbyists rarely ceases to amaze, or indeed, the local media. Apart from the usual twaddle of the pompous grousers, treasure hunting/metal detecting has added a million times more to the common record that it has ever taken away. The number of fabulous hoards and treasures brought to the light of day by detectorists – all properly recorded – is evidence of the fact and the inspiration for dedicated television programmes. The Archaeo-Luddites are left coughing in the dust as the caravan roars on.
When I spoke with my archaeologist friend those years ago, neither of us could have imagined that so many people in archaeology would owe their livelihoods to this hobby of ours. The PAS is both inspirational and world-class, and UK Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, is to be heartily congratulated for his achievements.
I’ll see you in the bar…
January 21, 2015
BARFORD UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT – AN OCCASIONAL LOOK AT THE BIZARRE
If you’ve ever wondered why the PAS and detectorist-hating Paul Barford, who describes himself as an archaeologist living in Poland, is such a buffoon and seemingly incapable of reporting simplest facts (God knows what his excavation reports contained!), then this shining example of his turgid, tabloid style of sensationalism, taken from his preposterous blog should provide the answers.
“Wednesday, 21 January 2015
A Portable Antiquities Scam in Parliament
Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham, Conservative) asks the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 20 January 2015, cW)
Mr Vaizey acts like he did not understand the question, and dodged the issue:
I have made no formal assessment of the effectiveness of the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
He then goes through the official spiel about what the PAS “does”. Bonkers, bonkers Britain. That’s like asking “how effective British hospitals are” and instead of hearing some statistics on waiting lists and patient-doctor ratios, being told by the health minister that a hospital is where ill people go to get better and they provide opportunities for the British public to learn about their illnesses and so on…”
What the Minister, Ed Vaizey ACTUALLY said was:-
“I have made no formal assessment of the effectiveness of the Portable Antiquities Scheme. The Portable Antiquities Scheme, through its network of Finds Liaison Officers, does an outstanding job in encouraging the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public. Since 1997 more than one million finds have been recorded in this way and made publicly available online through the Scheme. The Scheme also has an important educational role and allows children and adults alike to learn about archaeology, get involved, and discover the past. The Scheme is managed by the British Museum and funded through DCMS’s grant-in-aid to the British Museum, with local partner contributions. The funding allocation for the Portable Antiquities Scheme for the period between 2011/12 and 2014/15 has been ring-fenced with the funding reduction over this period minimised to less than 5%.”
Hardly the picture Barford would have us all believe. Still, his economy with the truth is hardly surprising, given Barford’s hapless expedition into the realms of bullshit in the shape of the widely and now thoroughly discredited Artefact Erosion Counter. I am told that it caused guffaws in certain Whitehall corridors.
TAKE A GOOD LOOK at Barford’s behaviour, Mr Vaizey. Hardly surprising for someone who left the Free West to work for the Communist regime in Poland in 1986. Do YOU really want to entrust the exploitation of the archaeological record to him? Take a good look and decide what you think about that as a “policy”.
January 8, 2015
The Centre Historique Medieval…
Sixty kilometres south-east of the northern French ferry port of Boulogne – about one hour’s drive – brings visitors to the hamlets of Azincourt and Tramecourt. On farmland between the two, under leaden autumn skies on Friday, 25 October 1415 (St Crispin’s Day), a tired, hungry, ragged, and dysentery-ridden English army of 6,500, commanded by King Henry V, engaged a French army of 26,000 in perhaps the greatest battle of the Hundred Years War. By the day’s end, the name of one of those hamlets would burn itself into English history.
Today, visitors will find a very fine museum dedicated to that day’s events; one of modern design, but lacking period artefacts, save for four arrowheads found by metal detectorists. All the medieval weapons are superbly made modern copies. In a fusion of technology, innovation, and a dab of the dramatic, history comes spookily alive, not least by the eye-ball rolling, mouth-moving life-size figures of the battles’ two commanders – Henry V and Conetable D’Albret: Which comes as a shock to the system in the wake of a hearty lunch and a few glasses of Chateau Latour. The Centre is tactile and designed to interact with visitors able handle a variety of weaponry. The longbow simulator for example, where one can try drawing an 80-lbs pull longbow brings the physical attributes of medieval bowmen into sharp focus.
Here some 600-years later over lunch with Claude Delcusse in Agincourt’s first-rate Charles IV Restaurant, we discussed the events of that fateful day. Delcusse, who is not only the Director and locomotive force behind Agincourt’s Centre Historique Medieval, but at the time of my visit 2002 was arguably the greatest living authority on the battle. “How could 6,500 English defeat 26,000 French?” I asked him.
“Snobbery,” was the unexpected reply.
The French commander, Conetable D’Albret, a minor aristocrat, was held in low-regard by many of his more blue-blooded knights, some of whom held him in outright contempt. Between the hamlets of Tramecourt and Azincourt lies a narrow strip of funnel-shaped, open farmland, bordered to the north and south by woods; 1,200- yards wide at the northern end and 900-yds wide to the south. D’Albret massed his troops across the wide end of the ‘funnel’.
On the 24th October, the English troops marching north for embarkation at Calais to England, found their way barred by an overwhelming French army. Battle was inevitable. The French positioned themselves at the northern end blocking Henry’s route to Calais. That evening Henry ordered his bowmen to cut themselves stakes between six and eight feet in length.
Henry V formed his men across the 900-yard southern end, positioning 2,500 bowmen on each flank, lined up from the centre where his 1,500 men-at-arms and knights were stationed and out to the edge of the woods. He sent some his best bowmen into the woods on either side to act as ‘snipers’. It was a common problem for enemy knights riding into battle against the English, that if they lowered their helmet visors too soon, the narrow slits tended retain their exhaled breath with its inherent carbon dioxide making them disorientated. Hence, they rode into battle visor up, looking to one side or another, breathing fresh air, but importantly to avoid a full-on arrow in the face well knowing how the English bowmen volleyed their arrows. As the French knights began their slow advance, visor up, became easy targets for the English bowman ‘snipers’.
Henry organized his forces into three divisions: the vanguard, commanded by the Duke of York; the main division commanded by Henry himself; and the rear-guard commanded by Lord Camoys. Sir Thomas Erpingham marshalled the bowmen on the flanks in two herce (inverted ‘V’ formations). The stakes, sharpened at both ends, were driven into the ground at about 45-degrees – the standard English defence against cavalry. The French, to the north, formed up over a 1,200-yard wide front on freshly ploughed fields. Spirits were high and defeat impossible. They were eager to crush the English and anxious for battle. In the English lines, the mood was naturally sombre.
Army chaplains took the final Confessions of the English troops, all of whom were resigned to their fate with few expecting to see another sunrise. All captured English bowmen, the French announced, would suffer having their first two fingers lopped off so they’d never draw a bow again. Henry V knew he held the advantage of the ground. Somehow, the French had to be lured into charging the English line. Henry signalled Erpingham, who gave the famous order….”Nestroque.” (Now, strike!). Five-thousand archers fired en masse, high into the air, the so-called ‘cloud’ shot. Arrows fell like bolts from the blue into the ranks of the French knights who had advanced fortuitously, without waiting for orders, heads down into the withering hail of English arrows that came pouring into their ranks at the rate of up to 50,000 a minute.
Those horses struck by special, crescent-shaped, flesh-tearing arrows became unmanageable unseating the French knights at the feet of the English bowmen, who stepped from the line to deliver the coup-grace to the fallen with swift dagger thrusts through the eye-slits of the helmet visors, or deep into the armpits.
Behind the mounted knights came the lines of foot knights and men-at-arms whose line of advance had compressed from the 1,200-yard front to the width of the English line of 900-yards. Into this densely packed line bolted the fallen knights’ hideously wounded horses trying to escape the pandemonium. All the while English bowmen poured volley after volley into the seething mass of humanity. Those knights that did manage to get to their feet found themselves stuck fast in the mud; and easy meat for the dagger-men.
Being only 150 yards from the English line, individual French knights were prey to the legendary accuracy of English archery. Specially designed armor-piercing arrows struck these hapless and helpless souls at speeds estimated at over 125-mph fired from longbows with draw-pulls of 100-lbs or more. Many knights were pierced through.
The screams of the dying and wounded amplified by the sheer terror of the ripped-open horses is a scene we can hardly imagine today. Finally, the English men-at-arms moved in for the coup-de-grace.
The French reserves seeing the appalling tragedy unfolding before them failed to counter-attack, unable to break through the mass of dead, dying, and wounded, strewn in front of the English line. Estimates vary, but certainly between 10,000 and 15,000 Frenchmen died that day at a cost of 800 English dead.
There was however, a horrendous postscript to the day’s unbridled slaughter. Henry, fighting at the head of his troops received news that units of French were attacking his wagon train well to the rear. Fearing they might free his captives creating a second front, ordered that all prisoners immediately have their throats slit; an order that was met with severe misgivings and, reluctance. Nevertheless, the order went ahead. Only later did it dawn that far from it being French troops attacking the wagon train, but unarmed local peasants foraging for food and anything else of value. The French naturally enough, regarded the killings as a gross act of butchery earning Henry V the soubriquet, ‘The Cutthroat King.’
Immediately following the battle, the English swarmed onto the battlefield to retrieve their valuable arrows – yanking them from the bodies of the dead and wounded alike – and looting anything remotely valuable. After which came the turn of the peasantry to ransack whatever was left. Seven days after the battle, one French chronicler recorded what he saw and referring to the 15,000 dead: “The bodies,” he wrote, “were as naked as when they were born.”
Of the English dead, only the corpses of the Duke of York and Earl of Suffolk were brought back to England, but not before these had been boiled in a cauldron to render them skeletal. The bones were laid to rest in the Tower of London.
Clearly, Agincourt was a battle ‘lost’ by the French – not because of any inherent lack of courage, quite the reverse – but through a potent mix of ill-discipline, snobbery, and English good luck.
English bowmen went into action carrying two sheaves of arrows (48) and these were stuck into the ground point first next to the bowmen’s left feet: A practice that led the French to believe the English used poison-tipped arrows. In fact, arrow wounds were contaminated by traces of soil picked up when the arrowheads were stuck into the ground. The ‘poison’ is known by modern medicine as Tetanus.
Though the English fired over 500,000 arrows, only four arrowheads have ever been recovered from the battlefield. “This was due to the fact that the English retrieved most of their arrows after the battle,” Claude told me. Why only four, I wondered. “Some time ago,” Claude said, “We had a controlled search with a group of people with metal detectors. They only found four arrowheads.”
That said, the Agincourt battlefield is a protected area and off-limits to clandestine excavators with, or without, metal detectors.
The famous two-finger ‘V’-sign of disrespect, dates back to Agincourt, when some of the defeated French were paraded through the ranks of English bowmen, they, to a man held up the first two fingers of their right hands to say…Look, we’ve still got them! Over the years, the ‘V’-sign, has become a symbol of impolite defiance to pomposity; the modern vernacular equivalent of …Up Yours!
As Henry rode from the battlefield, he saw a village church to his left. Turning to an aide, he asked,
“What is the name of the village?”
“Then let the battle be recorded as fought at Azincourt.” Thus, a tiny French hamlet carved its place in English history; known forever by its anglicized name…Agincourt.
There is no disease that I spit on more than treachery….Aeschylus
See you in the bar!
December 24, 2014
WHO PAYS FOR ARCHAEOLOGY?
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.
ANOTHER HERITAGE ACTION OWN GOAL…HAHAHAHAH! I LOVE IT!
Under the banner MUSCULAR OUTREACH WORKS, LIMP-WRISTED APPEASEMENT DOES’NT *, was this little gem:
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.
So, all staff at Joan Allen had better be on the lookout for a furtive looking, trench-coated, bespectacled, bearded ‘Sam Spade’ character with a striking resemblance to actor, Anton Rogers, lurking among the optics.
*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!
December 21, 2014
Dateline: Bournemouth, England – December 21
Wise Words (1)
Going through Bob Sickler’s outstanding book, Detectorist, first published in 1993, two of his musings leapt from the page. The first of which concerned PI machines and their propensity for elongated iron/ferrous objects: Bob poses the question if it’s technically possible for the signal to be transformed to visual display or readout which would go a long way in helping to overcome this tiresome aspect of PI machines. Garrett’s have something similar with their awesome GTI 2500 machine so why can’t this technology be adapted to PI machines? I cannot image that since 1993 when Bob put pen to paper, the men-in-white-coats in downtown Garland have not considered the prospect. On the other hand of course…
Wise Words (2)
Probably the most succinct aspect of Bob’s book, is at the back, where he says that it’s not so much the price of your metal detector that will fill your goody-bag, but how, and where you use it. The most expensive piece of kit in the world won’t find coins where none exist. However, if you use it where coins are EXPECTED, then even the lowest priced machine will do the business.
The late Colin Hanson (FID’s former Secretary) often used a simple to use, entry-level metal detector and time and again, whether on a Roman site or on the beach, he invariably did better than me.
IS IT A BIRD? IS IT A PLANE? NO! IT’S…..SUPER PRAT!!
We have absolute proof that those who fancy themselves as ‘archaeologists’ often have poor memory recall, are usually coy about their employment record, and a tendency to lapse into hypocrisy. Self-described archaeologist, detectorist, and collector hater, Paul Barford, demonstrates his prattery to perfection; this utter (but funny) garbage posing as intellectual comment appeared on his blog:-
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Why are US Authorities Letting Culture Criminals off the Hook?
“Why are US authorities and politicians protecting cultural racketeers […] Why are US police and prosecutors routinely failing to investigate and prosecute cultural heritage traffickers?”
…and so he whined thereon, et al, ad nauseum.
For some reason, Barford, made no comment when it was reported that Daniel Amick pleaded guilty to violating the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, admitting to removing 17 artifacts, including arrowheads, from public lands on two field trips to New Mexico, according to the statement by Kenneth Gonzales, U.S. attorney for the District of New Mexico.
Amick received just ONE YEAR’S probation for the heritage crimes of which Barford so bitterly complains. Could it be in the Barford psyche, ONLY non-academics (read, you and me) should face the firing squad?
What a 24-carat plonker he really is!
‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY…YO, HO HO HO!
My thanks to the wags who sent in these jokes which I happily reproduce below. (And ‘Lisa Mac’, if you’re reading this none of these jokes refer to you, though I suspect you know the direction of my aim) :-
A man in a bar stands up and proclaims, “All archaeologists are ASSHOLES!”
A man at the front of the bar stands up and says, “Oi! I resent that!”
So the first man asks, “Sorry, are you an archaeologist?”
“NO! I’m an asshole!”
At a convention of biological scientists, one researcher remarks to another, “Did you know that in our lab we have switched from using rats to archaeologists for our experiments?”
“Really?” the other replied, “Why did you switch?”
“Well, for three reasons. First we found that archaeologists are far more plentiful, secondly, the lab assistants don’t get so attached to them, and thirdly there are some things even a rat won’t do.”
An archaeologist dies and goes to Heaven. “There must be some mistake,” the archaeologist argues. “I’m not ready to die. I’m only 95.”
“Ninety-five?” says Saint Peter. “According to our calculations, you’re 22.”
“How’d you get that?” the archaeologist asks.
“We added up your excavation reports,” St. Peter replies.
Q: What do you call a smiling, sober, courteous person, at an archaeological convention?
A: The caterer.
Q: What’s the difference between Wally and God?
A: God doesn’t think he’s Wally.
As the archaeologist awoke from surgery, he asked the nurse, “Why are all the blinds drawn?”
The nurse answered, “There’s a fire across the street, and we didn’t want you to think you had died.”
A woman and her little girl were visiting the grave of the little girl’s grandmother. On their way through the cemetery back to the car, the little girl asked, “Mummy, do they ever bury two people in the same grave?”
“Of course not, dear,” replied the mother, “Why would you think that?”
“The tombstone back there said… ‘Here lies an archaeologist and an honest man.'”
What’s the difference between a bad archaeologist and a good archaeologist?
A bad archaeologist makes people wait an eternity for the excavation report: A good archaeologist takes longer.
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a prosperous, lucky
I’ll see y’all in the bar!
November 26, 2014
TREASURE HUNTING IS GOOD FOR YOU!
The gentle exercise involved in walking and swinging a metal detector not only burns up calories but also exercises the cardio-vascular system, strengthens the heart and lungs, and increases fitness giving a sense of overall well-being. Add to this the prospect of stumbling across the ‘Big One;’ that potentially life-changing reward for reporting a trove of ancient gold or silver coins, Viking, or Saxon treasures, than hunting with a metal detector has a lot going for it.
For retired hunters who are able to spread their treasure sorties of say, an hour or so, over three or four days a week, the health benefits increase dramatically. It’s recommended by scientists and other health professionals that adults take at least two-and-a-half- hours of moderate physical activity a week, or put another way, five thirty-minute sessions as recommended by the Harvard Medical School’s Dr I-Min Lee is the minimum ideal spread and will do very-nicely-thankyou.
Beachcombers for example, will typically cover several miles in a session and one of my favoured places is a remote stretch of coast requiring fair old hike to reach it but one where some very collectible items are known to roll in with the tide. Exercise coupled with lungful’s of clean, fresh, sea air, is doubly exhilarating – and there’s more. According to the UK’ s National Health Service walking estimates, just thirty minutes of walking will help a 60kg (9.5 stone) person lose 99 calories. Exercise peps up the system and increases libido. My detecting pal told me the other morning when I picked him up that he hadn’t had ‘it’ since 1959. “Jeez”, I said. “Yeah,” says he, “And it’s only half-past eight now.”
Nevertheless, there are some other thoughts to consider before sallying forth and not least of these is breakfast, and a proper breakfast will set you up for the day ahead. My own preference is for a couple of poached eggs on toast, or a potato waffle, fresh coffee, toast and marmalade. After which you’ll need to consider what food to take with you.
Treasure food needs to be a cocktail of good nutritional value, portability, and light in weight. In summer it’s imperative to carry ample water. However, one litre of water weighs 1-kg (approx. 2.2lbs) which reduces through the day as it is consumed. So what about the type and amount of food to take on your treasure sorties?
He swears it’s tea?
I always carry a handful of boiled fruit sweets along with a bar of chocolate so as to maintain blood sugar levels, but only in winter when temperatures are colder preventing the chocolate from melting, otherwise in summer, it’s a fruit bar or mint cake. Lunch is invariably an apple/banana, 2-ozs of Cheddar cheese, and a portion of flapjack. If the hunting area is close to where I park my car, I’ll return for a sandwich and Thermos of tea/Bovril.
It’s worth remembering that even on the coldest days in winter, cold food is as nutritious as hot food, though nowhere near as morale boosting. To this end, especially if I’m doing a remote coastal spot, I carry an ultra-lightweight butane gas stove; small aluminium backpackers’ kettle. Believe me, a mug of tea/coffee/Bovril on a bitter winter day is life’s greatest pleasure…well almost. I limit my all-up weight in the backpack to seven pounds including water.
Now fishing, that’s a totally different story!
Probably the worst thing you can do in winter is to carry a hipflask loaded with whisky or brandy, which at first gulp delivers a warming sensation but within minutes, lowers the body’s temperature. Neither is it much of an advantage if you get pulled over on the way home by the Highway Patrol or Traffic Police and breathe whisky fumes over the cops. No problem if you’re the passenger, but otherwise you’re in doo-doo.
ON A VERY DOWNMARKET BLOG…ANOTHER FAIRY TALE FROM THE BROTHERS GRIMM
“Professor David Gill has just asked a very direct question that challenges the whole basis of the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s database: “How far can we trust the information supplied with the reported objects? Are these largely reported or “said to be” findspots?“
Prof. Gill (aka the ‘Ginger Whinger’) makes the bullets Warsaw Wally and Heritage Harry fire, and judging from the question posed, shows that Gill is attempting (and failing miserably) to sabotage the ground-breaking work of the widely and well-regarded, factual PAS, that currently – and unlike the AEC – is the firm basis for a host of on-going academic research projects.
The answer to his question is obvious…Researchers can and do trust the information of the Portable Antiquities Scheme as opposed to the wholly invented fictional data masquerading as ‘scientific’ in the now widely discredited Artefact Erosion Counter that he supports.
Indeed, Gill, Barford, and Swift, are in no position – holding the moral low-ground as they do – to question the veracity of anyone or anything so long as they keep administering the Kiss-of-Life to ludicrous AEC. In the meantime, the mighty PAS rolls on.
However, on the website Academia.edu, Gill lists his antecedents thus:-
Professor of Archaeological Heritage and Director of the Heritage Futures Research Unit at University Campus Suffolk. He is a former Rome Scholar at the British School at Rome, and was a Sir James Knott Fellow at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He was previously a member of the Department of Antiquities at the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, and Reader in Mediterranean Archaeology at Swansea University (where he also chaired the university’s e-learning sub-committee). He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He is the holder of the 2012 Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) Outstanding Public Service Award, and the 2012 SAFE Beacon Award.
Curiously, Gill makes no mention of his association (wisely perhaps) with the Artefact Erosion Counter. Understandable of course: A hand-in-bra relationship with the AEC is perhaps not the best thing to have on one’s CV?
Remember…..(And it’s Not Just Politicians, Either)
“A hypocrite is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump and make a speech for conservation”….Adlai E. Stevenson
I’ll see y’all in the bar!
October 30, 2014
DO YOU THINK THEY REALLY KNOW WHO HE IS?
Here’s a perfect example of unalloyed, industrial strength narcissism by the man himself, the anti-collector, serial insulter, and anti-metal detectorist, Paul Barford. It’s one of his best yet! This is a collectors’ piece. ENJOY:-
Monday, 27 October 2014 PAS: “Working Across the County”
I re-sent my query to my local FLO on the Langham Hall rally, and got this:
“Thank you for your email. I will be working across the county and therefore out of the office until Wednesday 29th October. I will have limited access to emails during this time, however please rest assured that your email has been received and will be addressed as soon as possible. If you have an urgent finds related issue or Treasure declaration please contact the Portable Antiquities Scheme Treasure Department on +44 [….]”
While I am resting assured that if I were a metal detectorist I’d now get a reply, I really wonder whether the FLO has a mobile phone for use when “the other side of” an English county, and why Treasure declarations are not being directed to the Coroner, as the Treasure Act requires.
Er…um…since when has a FLO been local to Warsaw? Someone take the lad aside and explain geography to him, huh? For some unfathomable reason HE THINKS his query is more important that anyone else’s, simply because he is a British (undistinguished) archaeologist of unknown provenance, living in Warsaw (Poland) which in his mind demands an immediate reply! Hahahahah! Oh dearie me! Hahahahah!
The words; ‘dickhead’, ‘pompous,’ ‘a,’ and ‘what,’ spring to my mind. Barford as usual is seemingly incapable of grasping the kindergarten fact that his local Fields Liaison Officer (FLO), is NOT actually…er… local to him; since by no stretch of the imagination can Warsaw be described as local to the English county of Essex. In days past, when having deserted his homeland and cuddling-up to Polish Communists in 1986, then he might well have had a higher profile to command immediate action.
What a stupid Comrade!
“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits”….Albert Einstein
I’ll see y’all in the bar!
October 26, 2014
$5,000 UP FOR GRABS?
Sunday July 24, 1892 was not a good day for John Ruggles and his brother Charles….
About two months earlier John and Charlie held up the Wells Fargo, Weaverville to Redding stagecoach at a point some five miles north-west of Redding, settling on a location on what is now known as Middle Creek Road, at a point where the stage would be moving slowly and the horses tired from the uphill gradient. They ambushed the stage on May 12, 1892, and all went according to plan, until the guard riding shotgun inside the coach opened-up peppering Charlie with buckshot. More shots rang out, and passenger George Suhr, and Johnny Boyce the stage driver, along with guard ‘Buck’ Montgomery were all wounded. John Ruggles ran up to the seriously wounded ‘Buck’ and finished him off by shooting him in the back with his revolver at point-blank range. Johnny Boyce managed to regain control of the team and drove off as fast as the horses could manage.
Thinking his brother Charlie was mortally wounded, John grabbed the express box he believed to hold $20,000 in gold coins – but in fact it held only $5,000 – made off. The stage finally made it into Redding where a posse was organised and returned to the scene and found the wounded Charlie still lying in the road. He was taken into custody to get medical attention, though at this stage his identity was still unknown. He had been hit thirteen times with buckshot; his most serious wounds having knocked out some teeth and exiting out via his neck.
In custody, he soon recovered well enough to be questioned though refused to say who his partner in the robbery had been; the shrewd Wells Fargo detective John Thacker quickly figured it out. Charlie finally admitted to Thacker his accomplice had been his brother John.
A bounty $1,100 was posted for John’s capture, and on 19th June, in his hometown of Woodland, California, while eating a meal in the Opera Restaurant, he was arrested by Yolo County Deputy Sheriff, Wyckoff, who walked in, sat down at the table next and levelled his pistol at the outlaw’s head. Taken by train back to Redding, John was overcome with joy at seeing his brother was alive and a tearful reunion ensued.
Their trial was set for July 28, 1892. In an effort to save himself and his brother, John sought a deal with the Wells Fargo detective Thacker that the stage guard, Montgomery, had been in on the hold up with them. He told Thacker that he’d hidden the gold in Middle Creek, saying that he’s attached to the strong box a floating device that came within a foot of the top of the water that would help him in finding it later. True or not the $5,000 in gold coins remains unrecovered.
Though precise times vary, nevertheless on the 24th a vigilante group seeking to avenge the cold-bloodied killing of ‘Buck’ Montgomery, forcibly entered Redding jail, dragged the brothers from their cell to a spot where Shasta Street meets the railroad, where they were summarily hanged from a derrick. No one was ever prosecuted for the lynching.
If you ‘google map’ Middle creek Road Redding, this will give you the scene of the crime. Good luck!
A DAZZLING NEW SCHEME
This from the Portable Antiquities Scheme website:
Unearthing the past: Heritage Lottery grant supports new initiative to get the best from archaeological finds
Every year, metal detectorists, farmers and walkers discover archaeological finds that could have important stories to tell us about the past in Wales. But do we get the most out of these discoveries?
Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales in partnership with The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales has attracted a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to fulfil the exciting potential of new discoveries. The project Saving Treasures, Telling Stories has been awarded £349,000 to work with finders and communities and enhance the archaeology collections of national and local museums across Wales.
As part of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures initiative, which supports museums, libraries and archives in developing their collections through strategic acquisition projects, the Saving Treasures, Telling Stories project will create a long-term collecting culture to underpin responsible discovery and reporting.
The Saving Treasures project will establish collecting networks across Wales, enabling museums to share skills, expertise and knowledge and offering training to interpret collections in new and strategic ways. It will also allow for targeted purchases of newly discovered artefacts to develop national and local collections over a four-year period 2015-2019. This will involve discoveries covering many periods, from the Stone Age to Medieval times.
The project will deliver a three-year programme of community projects, taking inspiration from significant artefacts or treasure discoveries. Museum staff and partners will collaborate with community groups and participating audiences to develop their responses to the portable heritage on their doorsteps. Community project outcomes will be co-presented in local museums and the national museum, with a range of digital media presentations created and captured online.
A lively and engaging website will be developed for the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales, as a point of access for profiling discoveries, stories, successes and creative responses relating to the portable heritage of Wales.
There will be bursaries for journalism or media studies students and additional volunteering opportunities linked with collecting, community projects and Portable Antiquities Scheme work.
Peter Wakelin, Director of Collections and Research, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, said:
“Each year hundreds of objects of archaeological significance are found by metal detectorists in Wales and there are some 20-30 discoveries of treasure. This is a crucial resource for understanding the past”.
“Targeted purchases of newly discovered artefacts for national and local collections, collecting activities, ongoing resources and community projects will make a lasting change in bringing together detector clubs, local museums and communities around the stories new discoveries reveal.
“This five-year project will help to create and celebrate a new culture around collecting the portable archaeological heritage in Wales and this generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will help us save more treasures and make them more accessible to wider audiences to tell their stories for future generations.”
Rachael Rogers, The Federation of Museums and Galleries of Wales:
“We are delighted that this scheme is going ahead. It is a great opportunity for museums across Wales to work both with Amgueddfa Cymru and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales to develop their archaeological collections. We particularly welcome the opportunity to work with local communities that this project will bring”.
Jennifer Stewart, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, added:
“Collecting Cultures was a hugely popular grant programme and we have responded to this positive feedback by bringing it back a second time. Our first Collecting Cultures grants made a real difference to how cultural institutions approached and planned their long-term collecting strategies. Now, five years on, we’re pleased to be able to help a much wider range of applicants, including Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales in partnership with The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales.”
Proof, if proof were needed, that collectors and metal detectorists are getting a big thumbs-up from government as they continue to swell the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s database. Worryingly though, few archaeological societies, especially the amateur kind lauded by Nigel Swift, Heritage Action’s ridiculous, gobby, Chief Mouth and Barford bag-carrier, and one of the loudest, empty-headed detractors of metal detecting, contribute hardly anything.
One has to ask:- Why, if metal detecting is how Barford and Swift would have everyone believe it is; founded on greed, theft, trespass, lies and deceit, why is the government pouring £-millions in to it? Perhaps the smell of bullshit has I suggest, finally reached the nostrils of those in power.
I guess the ‘Chuckle Brothers’ have been ‘sussed’?
“Jealousy is the fear of comparison”….Max Frisch
“The thermometer of success is merely the jealousy of the malcontents”…Salvador Dali
I’ll see you in the bar…
COUNCIL TELLS THE MUSEUM ASSOCIATION TO GET STUFFED
In the wake of the Museums Association’s decision to suspend Northampton Borough Council’s membership for the heinous heritage ‘crime’ of selling its own property – the Sekhemka statue – a Council spokesperson told the pompous Museums Association (MA) to stick its membership where a monkey stuffs its nuts.
Replying to the MA’s action a Northampton Council spokesperson put it somewhat bluntly:-
“It is curious that the Museums’ Association is choosing to review our membership when we have already notified them that we have resigned from the Association and have no desire to ever re-join. Having reviewed the value of membership we could not see what benefit it offered to our museums. We are focusing on the future and our exciting plans to invest in improving both museums including the huge expansion of the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery rather than the odd bureaucracy of an organisation we no longer belong to.”
Unsurprisingly, one archaeo-blogger put his own spin on events by racing to the MA’s defence:-
“Northampton Borough Council is only the fourth organisation that has been barred from membership in the MA’s 125-year history.” Oooh! And I doubt they’ll be the last.
Hat’s off to Northampton Borough Council for giving the bossy-boots, po-faced MA the Agincourt Salute.
RODNEY TROTTER* LIVES!
Talking of po-faced organisations, the Daily Express’ Adrian Lee, writing about the new BBC sit-com, Detectorists, a gentle comedy ‘ revolving around the bizarre world of metal detecting,’ quotes the National Council for Metal Detecting’s General Secretary Trevor Austin, on the self-important and near-impotent NCMD’s decision to wash its hands of any involvement in the making of the new detectorist sit-com because, “We didn’t think it was something we wanted to be involved in. It does worry me that they are taking the mickey out of metal detecting. It is a serious hobby.”
Really Trev! And to borrow a line from another famous sit-com, Only Fools and Horses, “What a 24-carat plonker you really are!”
*Rodney Trotter a main character in the UK television sit-com series, Only Fools and Horses.
Is a treasure hunter an archaeologist who’s been mugged by reality?
WHAT’S MISSING FROM THE BOVINE SCATOLOGY LIST?
A ‘hoiker’ hater writes:-
“[…]…archaeology per se does not fight world poverty, ebola, capitalism, globalism, industrial pollution, global warming, terrorism, the progressive extinction of the world’s wildlife, child abuse, drink-driving, drive-by shootings, police brutality, or anything else.”
Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted that his list is the recognizable face of academia’s self-righteous, smug, and detector-hating political Left Wing; though this particular ‘hoiker’-hater, maintains his woeful standards by tritely avoiding revelations that some archaeologists have thrown their lot in with brutal regimes where the violent crushing of political dissidents, and State-sponsored murder was commonplace. Pre-democracy Poland is a perfect example. Bizarrely, he expects the world to take him seriously. Ha, ha, ho, ho! Oh, dearie me, not on this form!
Small wonder his anti-collecting, anti-detecting blog, is a burlesque of absurdity.
“LUSTRATION”…someone, somewhere, reading this edition of the Malamute Saloon, knows precisely what the word means, and knows too, that I know what it means.
SOMEONE OUGHT TO TELL HIM
The first episode of television’s new sit-com, Detectorists, is receiving critical acclaim. “It is a classic sitcom set-up which has been executed well here […] viewers have already struck gold,” writes Rupert Hawksley in The Telegraph.
Sam Wollaston, writes in The Guardian equally enthusiastic, “It’s sharp, nicely observed, good to look at, with lovely understated performances from Crook and Toby Jones.”
The series will – on current form – greatly inflate the public profile of the detecting pastime and generate new hobby-interest which augurs well for the retail section. It bodes less well for the green-eyed naysayers, the whingers, the whiners, the ill-mannered, the ill-educated and the rest of the detritus at the arse-end of immoderate archaeology’s pantomime horse and pecking order.
Meanwhile, over on a familiar unrestrained and downmarket blog (where, horseshit rules OK!), there’s a typical piece of the Knows-F**k-All-About-Detecting genre. Indeed, while trying to carve a new career as a TV critic and somewhat disastrously it must be said, the writer validates his trifling comprehension with a pubertal effort worthy of a work experience ‘yoof’s’ first outing with a pen:-
“The detectors used are not the cheapest […] During the first meeting with a landowner we see, there is no signing of any search-and-take agreement. We were shown no checking to see if the land was protected, no organised search technique… How typical is that? And when will the Essex FLO feature?”
So, the nit-picking plodder – who’s obviously never heard the maxim of writing about what you know – wants ‘typical’ eh? Never mind the Essex FLO, what he should do is introduce is a bearded, spectacle- wearing chinless wonder, into the equation; one with a nause-rating of ‘8’; dresses like his mum buys his clothes, and typically, squeals, bawls, and throws his toys out of the pram whenever metal detecting or the PAS hits the headlines.
Detectorists is a sit-com my old son, not a documentary. Better not give up yer day job, eh?
Over on Washington DA Peter Tompa’s blog, Cultural Property Observer, he posed the question:-
Archaeological Assault Brigade?
There is some talk in twitterdom about the need for archaeologists to team up with the military to defeat ISIS/ISIL. CPO is all for it. Committed archaeologists should sign up, get some basic military training, and be inserted into Syria and Iraq to help reclaim archaeological sites from terrorists.
What could this mean if hordes of arkies mobilise?
Can we expect then, to see that threadbare fighting unit, Vlasov Barford’s Kommissars, who always fight to the last Heritage Action man, or who surrender en masse (as they did when Communist forces marched into Poland), and again, when faced with withering Truth Missiles fired by high IQ metal detecting ‘special forces’?
They will of course be supported and well to the rear, by Swift’s Mercian Fibbers, known colloquially as the ‘long range snipers,’ who avoid hand-to-hand combat at all costs preferring to report fictional attacks to the police. Behind these will be the Canadian, Knell’s Pioneers, experts in digging latrines when under heavy fire. Their Vocal Support Division (Infantry) will try to halt the enemy’s attacks with shrill cries of; ‘It’s Soooooo unfair!’ or the coup-de-grace, ‘You utter bastards’.
The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy….Corrie Ten Boom
I’ll see you all in the bar….
September 15, 2014
Here’s One for ATPro Beach Hunters
As most proficient UK beachcombers are (presumably) aware, 5p and 10p coins (along with 1p and 2p coins) are iron-cored. However, when they are found in ‘recently lost’ condition the ATPro reacts favourably to the copper wash exterior of the 1p’s and 2p’s, or the nickel wash of the 5p’s and 10p’s. BUT, when these coins have been exposed to prolonged periods in a saltwater environment the iron core ‘bursts’, whereby the coins invariable register as ‘Iron’ – similar to bottle caps – by setting-off the ‘Iron Audio’ mode. In this condition they are worthless anyway…or ‘Barfords’ as me and Jack Dey call them…as in:-
”Found anything Jack?”
“Yep, a couple of £1-coins, and a Barford.”
Though the ATPro’s ‘Iron Audio’ feature is a superb innovation – like when the first loaf of bread came sliced – relegating steel bottle caps to the dustbin of history, which on the face of it is no bad thing…but… BEWARE!
On a recent beach sortie and for some fortuitous and unfathomable reason I dug a dubious ‘iron’ signal and into the sandscoop came a ‘burst’ 5p. I checked the hole agan, and a strong ‘77’ digital signal sounded indicating a £1-coin. Sure enough, in the next scoop of sand , up came a shiny £1-coin. The 5p had partially ‘masked’ the £1-coin having been directly above it or at the very least, overlapping it, thus presenting a dubious ‘Iron’ signal to the ATPro. The ‘Iron Discrim’ was set at ‘35’ my normal beach setting. I doubt whether a smaller coil would have separated the two, BUT, that £1-coin could have been a gold ring! You get my drift? The odds of a ‘burst’ 5 or 10p coin masking a gold ring are, well, who-knows-what, but certainly possible has as happened with the £1-coin.
John Howland taking a tea break….honest!
I now operate the ATPro with the ‘Iron Audio’ facility ‘ON’, but with the ‘Iron Discrim’ to ‘15’ or less, in the hope that ‘bigger’ more valuable targets will overpower ‘burst’ 5 or 10p’s. I don’t how these settings affect US and Canadian users, though I understand that some Canadian coins can be more than a twinge in the rectal region. Perhaps ‘Bill from Lachine’ will chuck in his ten cent’s worth – all contributions gratefully received.
Tired of Life? Then DON’T Read This…
If you hunt beaches and bays where huge tidal ranges are the norm, what follows just might save your life. Those of you already aware of the ’12-ths Rule’ then I suggest y’all put the coffee pot on, or pour large Bourbon, or go and get your leg over, while I explain to the less knowledgeable.
Right! For you newbies it’s all about numbers…..Remember…..1, 2, 3 …. 3, 2, 1.
The Flood Tide (incoming) runs for six hours from LOW and HIGH Water; not at a constant flow, but slowly gathers speed galloping in during the 3rd and 4th hours of the flood, with the pace decreasing towards High Water. On some slightly shelving beaches where there might be up to, or over 400-yards of exposed foreshore, it races in faster than some people can walk and cutting off the unwary an consigning them to an untimely death. You can work out the speed of the tide by knowing its range and if you don’t know what ‘range’ means…don’t go out on a beach until you do; and that ain’t negotiable. An incoming (Flood) tide runs approximately for six hours at roughly the following rate:-
1st hour is equal to 1/12 of the tidal range… Rises 3-ft
2nd hour is equal to 2/12 of the tidal range… Rises 6-ft
3rd hour is equal to 3/12 of the tidal range… Rises 9-ft
4th hour is equal to 3/12 of the tidal range… Rises 9-ft
5th hour is equal to 2/12 of the tidal range… Rises 6-ft
6th hour is equal to 1/12 of the tidal range… Rises 3-ft
If say, there’s a 36-ft tidal range in your area, then you’ll see from the above scale, the greatest movement of water occurs during 3rd and 4th hours of the Flood (incoming) Tide. This is especially critical if you’re say, wreck hunting, at the back of a horseshoe-shaped bay backed by high cliffs.
Assuming then, you are hunting in a 36-ft tidal coastal location, the speed of the Flood Tide during the 3rd and 4th hours is rising at the rate of 1.8-inches per minute. Once the ‘tips’ of the horseshoe are covered by the Flood tide – your escape route is now effectively blocked – you are in deep, very deep, doo-doo! Your only ‘out’ is by climbing the cliffs.
I never ceased to be astounded by the number of beachcombers who cannot read, or even grasp the rudimentary essentials of a Tide Table… after all, it’s basic knowledge not rocket science, as is getting a handle on local weather conditions. Here in Dorset, sadly, we lose at least one angler every year somewhere along our magnificent coastline and often on the deeply shelving, and unforgiving Chesil Beach, which in a fierce ‘South Westerly’ is a death trap….locals avoid it like the plague in these conditions; they know the fish will still be there the day after!
There’s a place I know where high value Spanish gold and silver coins can be found washing ashore where on a Spring Flood Tide the window of treasure hunting opportunity is about one hour. Whenever I hunt here, I ALWAYS carry a mobile phone and a smoke distress flare – just in case.
“The archaeo-blogosphere is stuffed full with Richard-heads, thus:-I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it”…..Edith Sitwell
I’ll see y’all in the bar!
September 3, 2014
TO ALL MY NEW READERS…WELCOME
Some of you newbies will have arrived here out of sheer of curiosity I dare say – morbid or otherwise – others will have been shepherded to the Malamute Saloon by very second-rate, down-market, archaeo-bloggers, who want you to experience how a real blog is run and written; one where self-deprecating humour rules and where absolutely no-one has their heads stuck up their arses. Read the intro to this section of Stout Standards and you’ll get the drift of what to expect…if that’s not to your liking then you’d be well advised to ‘Foxtrot Oscar’ immediately.
You can almost always find John Howland on the beach (if not there check the closest pub)
Herein, as you’ll discover, we defend our excellent, educational, and wholesome hobby and give full support to the UK’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), which, unlike the heavily discredited Artefact Erosion Counter (AEC) – no doubt spawned by Wyborowa and Wincarnis-fuelled scribblings on the back of a beermat in a downtown Warsaw speak-easy – the PAS’s database has solid foundations and has proved its worth time and again as the launch pad for countless academic theses and formal studies. To date, no one has yet based any formal academic study based on the admitted guesswork upon which the AEC is founded.
We at Malamute Saloon are avid and unapologetic defenders of coin and relic collectors, and coin and relic collections, both private and public. Neither is this a forum for debate. If you don’t like what we stand for, then bugger off back to the twerps who sent you here; but I know you’ll return.
Contrary to what the hare-brained numpties on the fringe of the archaeological world profess is ‘The Truth’ (more correctly their Truth) herein you’ll find the facts…not the gangrenous propagandist claptrap of the hard Left – mostly driven by washed-up, peripatetic sock-puppets of Polish Communism – but good old fashioned, common-sense and fair play. We do not believe that private property (or collections) should ever be grabbed and state-owned. Ours, in the UK at least, is a property-owning democracy and long may that continue. You disagree? Then North Korea is your Shangri-La.
The Malamute Saloon is the metal detecting blog the nutters and psychos on the fringe of radical archaeology hate the most and I am arguably, the most hated detectorist, writer, and an author of the lot. Why? Because I/we fight my/our corner; take no prisoners, and continually shred their specious arguments against metal detecting and collecting. Mostly though, we ignore them, as entering into debate with the kind of souls who pull wings off flies is a futile endeavour. Nevertheless these are the kinds of people archaeology allows itself to be represented by – without comment – and who are …frit, yes, frit, to rein them in. Small wonder some many people regard some UK archaeologists as …gutless shysters.
Simultaneously as detectorists are being berated by the loony fringe for all manner of heritage ills, hundreds of thousands of unrecorded and unclassified artefacts from so-called ‘proper’ archaeological excavations are languishing unloved in sheds and hangers across the British Isles. The scandal of the archaeological record is a shambles unlike the database of the Portable Antiquities Scheme now nearing to record its one millionth artefact on its infinitely valuable database, of which the overwhelming majority of its records are detector-found pieces. The current outrage is not of detectorists’ making but of archaeology’s own, prompting the serious question of whether the nation’s heritage ought to be left in, or indeed is safe in, the hands of archaeology. On present form, it’s unfit for purpose.
Incredibly, archaeological finds are normally NOT RECORDED on the PAS database – though they are encouraged to do so. The loss of vital archaeological data is incalculable. Vitally heritage data has gone down the drain; lost forever by the UK’s bumbling excavators who as the evidence shows, don’t know their arses from their elbows. Even the most vitriolic of anti-detecting evangelists and archaeo-bloggers, Paul Barford, was inspired to write, “The problem, however, is one that affects museums throughout the British Isles.” I doubt there will be a public enquiry into the scandal. There never is… when arkies are involved.
So there you have it…the stall is set out…take it or leave it…but I know you’ll come back.
Welcome to the Malamute Saloon.
Here’s one for the propaganda sock-puppets…
Celebrity and secrets don’t go together. The bastards will get you in the end….George Michael
I’ll see y’all in the bar….
August 15, 2014
MY ROMAN COIN UPDATE
Some of you might remember that some time back while beachcombing I found a Roman coin? Well, after a lot legwork it turned out to be a Dupondius (Latin two-pounder) of Domitian, a brass coin used during the Roman Empire and Roman Republic valued at 2 asses (1/2 of a sestertius or 1/8 of a denarius), and probably shows Fortuna the goddess of fortune and personification of luck in Roman religion, on the reverse.
Dupondius Domitian (obverse left/reverse right)
Though she might bring good luck or bad: she could be represented as veiled and blind, as in modern depictions of Justice, and came to represent life’s capriciousness. The dupondius was introduced during the Roman Republic as a large bronze cast coin, although even at introduction it weighed less than 2 pounds. The coin featured the bust of Roma on the obverse and a six-spoked wheel on the reverse. Though not in the best condition, being the best part of 1,800 years old, it represents a rare piece for the particular area, and maybe an important piece in the local archaeological record owing to its find spot. I shall carry it as a good luck token. In the hope it leads me to buried gold.
It shows, yet again, the value of metal detectors in heritage research. I am keeping the record of its find for future referral.
Financial value? Not a lot.
John Howland, somewhere in a pub, on the Southern coast of England…
August 8, 2014
For those of you following Bubba’s first trip to the US and to Atlantic City in particular….heeeere’s Johnny!!
AC ‘86 – PART TWO…WHAT A REVELATION…THE LIMEYS HAVE LANDED
For the two Limey guests at the FMDAC’s 1986 Atlantic City bash (yours truly and Gerald Costello) the whole shabang was a revelation: Indeed, Atlantic City itself was a revelation: Trump’s Castle Hotel and Casino our home for a couple of nights was, yeh you guessed it, a revelation. The huge laser display board flashing out the message; Atlantic City Welcomes the Federation of Metal Detector & Archaeological Clubs, was, well,… illuminating! Geddit?
Before heading to Atlantic City John had to get provisions
Trump’s Castle as one would expect from a hotel Donald T puts his name to, was A1, First Class, Top Hole; resplendent with its glitzy décor and general razzmatazz that makes Buckingham Palace look like a hovel. We’d been a long time on the road and Gerald and me were ‘Donald Ducked’ [Cockney rhyming slang for exhausted] by the time we reached our destination. The prospect of crashing-out in our room on the zillionth floor of this cultural edifice, beckoned enticingly; like a $20 trollop to a sailor. They say that on a clear day, from the zillionth floor and looking south, you can even see poverty.
Slinging my suitcase and valise on my bed, I settled into a comfy chair, feet up, and spun the top from a bottle of Rebel Yell, and with full ice bucket on tap, a soft-pack of Winston King Size, and the prospect of a great two days ahead of me, all was fine with the world. “Good God,” says Gerald, “You’re not going to drink all that tonight are you?”
“ ’kin watch,” I says, “Shit, bourbon makes me sooo horny.” It sure cured Gerald’s snoring: he never slept a wink that night, while I however, slept the ‘Sleep of the Just’; I’d teach him to buy ‘dry’ plane tickets.
At the following evening’s pre-dinner drinkies do, I bumped into Dick Tichian; bumped into former US Marine, Cliff Stefens; stepped over Dick Stout; bumped into several pleasant ‘suits’ from Whites, Garrett, and Tesoro, along with characters who’ve passed into treasure hunting folklore lore. “Hey, over here!” shouted the now sadly late Sam Abramo, an attorney of some repute, clutching a replica of the Hand of Faith gold nugget, the largest at the time ever found with a metal detector, and something ‘on the rocks’ in the other.
“You drinkin’ Jaarn?”
“You kiddin’ me Sam? C’mon, get ‘em in ya bloody cheapskate, I’m thoisty.” I liked Sam. He was the kind of guy who if he couldn’t do you a good turn, wouldn’t do you bad one – which is saying something for a lawyer – his wit was as sharp as his fees. He lived respected and died regretted. A good bloke.
The sun came up early the next day, and Stouty having surfaced from his pit and lurching into the real world rendezvoused with me in the Breakfast Bar, where over bagels, orange juice, and coffee – good US coffee –
conned asked me, if I’d like to address the assembled throng later that morning on the topic of treasure hunting in the Old Country. “Yeh, no probs,” I lied, “But what do you want me to speak about?”
Ever the diplomat, “You’ve bull-shitted your way in the hobby so far, so do what your good at,” he charmingly reassured me.
According to the billing I’d be the second act following what was in the event, Charles Garrett’s spellbinding talk about electro-magnetic fields in relation to treasure hunting with metal detectors, followed by an equally engrossing tale of his search for the Nez Perce Indian Treasure. Yeh, ‘preciate, Dick!
Leaving them rolling in the aisles…
There was no way I was going to compete with ‘Charlie G’s’ offering notwithstanding his reputation in the treasure hunting fraternity, his scientific background, and his role in the Apollo missions. Talk about after the Lord Mayor’s Show has gone past all that remains is the crap!
Nevertheless, diving straight in I regaled them heartily with stories about ‘mud-larking’ on that section of River Thames that flows through London, along with tales about hunting for Roman, and Celtic coins, and all about the one guy who hunts ‘eyes-only’ on the banks of the Thames to feed an unfortunate habit. “Great Jaarn,” one said later, “Really soporific!” I think that’s Arkansas patois for super-duper. Eat your heart out Charlie G!
Well into my stride I threw out challenges:-
“Any questions?” expecting in-depth treasure hunting queries.
From the back of the auditorium came…”Do you have ring-pulls in Britain?” (Oh by the way, and for the information of anyone from rural Arkansas reading this, we have running water, street lamps and electricity here in the Old Country).
“Yeh,” I shouted back, “And if I’m not mistaken they’re a bloody US invention.” He seemed proud of the fact they were. I guess he was from Arkansas.
“What about archaeologists?” someone else enquired.
“What about them?”
“Do you have good relations with them?”
Recalling the sharp wit of a cockney NCMD member who shall remain nameless, I adapted his legendary retort to a similar question some years earlier and luckily, failed to quote him verbatim, “Well not personally, but I know one detecting club secretary who’s fu…er… sleeping with one”.
“Do you have any trouble from them?”
“Only the fact that a bunch of the loony fringe [yes, we had nutters even in those days] have been seeding fields with tin-tacks to disrupt metal detectors. The farmers aren’t best pleased since these creeps are doing this at night and cattle are picking them up on their tongues and legs.”
John having fun…note though the cop is not laughing!
The following day’s AC Beach Hunt was, yeh, was you’ve guessed it… unlike any detector hunt either I or Gerald had seen before or been involved in. Back in the UK hunt prizes where mostly trowels, finds aprons, a metal detector donated by a manufacturer if you were lucky, but here, they were giving away the kinds of prizes people wanted; cars, metal detectors in profusion, and ancillary kit like you’ve never seen. What an eye-opener, but most of all, it was a supremely enjoyable treasure hunt populated by guys and gals, who from what I could fathom, were the cream of the rank-and-file of the US treasure hunting community. I even won a Compass metal detector and managed to stow it aboard on the plane home. We made many new friends too, which in a way gave way to the infamous incident of the ‘Twenty Bucks’.
What happened was this:-
On the AC Boardwalk with Stouty, we met up with some of the above mentioned treasure hunting reprobates. “Hey, Jaarn, loved your gags last night at the dinner. Fancy a beer?” What? Has the Pope got a balcony? So off we all trooped – detectors and all – into a Boardwalk bar where the draught ‘Bud’ flowed copiously accompanied by equally plentiful Bourbon chasers. “I didn’t know you English guys drank Bourbon chasers,” said a guy from Arkansas, “Well,” I said, “We don’t all drink medieval mead and dress like Robin Hood.”
“Yeh, but you guys got all them ancient ruins,” a guy from Little Rock said.
“We lost a lot of them, not so many nowadays,” I countered.
“How come,” he says.
“In the late 1940’s and 50’s most GI’s stationed in the UK married ‘em and took ‘em back home.”
“Ah, I see. Right!” Yep, definitely from Arkansas.
“Hey old buddy, old pal, my old mate,” whispers Stouty, “Any chance of a loan, say $20? It’s my round soon…and well…you know how it is.” As the saying goes; a friend in need is a pain in the ass. I coughed up the dough.
“Yes sure,” I replied, thinking to myself, ‘shit,’ another Lend/Lease deal!
John was a winner….
Any suspicions I had about Stouty’s connections where confirmed when he took me and Gerald to the best table in one of Noo Joisey’s top eateries where the clientele all bore striking resemblances to the likes of ‘Bugs’ Moran, ‘Bugsy’ Siegel, ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd, John Dillinger, ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly, ‘Legs’ Diamond, and Frank Costello, all of whom had a Jean Harlow type blonde ‘broad’ hanging from their arms. The rest looked like they’d tried to go the distance with Rocco Francis Marchegiano.
The Italian proprietor, a real one-off, whose only word in English in which he was fluent which began with the letter ‘F’ and who realising Gerald’s surname was Costello, his Sicilian bon hommie really came to the fore. I kid you not, it was a night to remember.
More next time.
The “New Joisey eatery” John is referring to was the “Lighthouse” in Weehawken, New Jersey, without a doubt one of the best Italian restaurants I’ve ever eaten in and that includes Italy as well. The only name I knew the owner by was ‘Romano” and he was a delightful man. Unfortunately the Lighthouse is longer in business….
FEELING THE HEAT
Following on from the previous curry recipe here on the Malamute Saloon I’m relieved that no-one has yet complained about having the red-hot rectals, or of marking out the hockey pitch as we sometimes refer to the morning after effects. I live in hope, ha, ha, ha! A good hot curry should induce sweating which in turn cleans the pores of the skin and what follows, though a little cooler, will do precisely that.
Hot curries are addictive in that they cause the body to release endorphins (a natural pain-killer). The same effect is possible with hot Tex-Mex chili too I suspect. But hot curries are for Sahibs, the menfolk, not wimpy gringos.
British Beef Raj Curry
This curry is finished off with serving bowls of sultanas, chopped boiled eggs, chopped fresh tomatoes, and desiccated coconut, crispy poppadums, from which the diners add according to taste, along with a dollop of apple, mango, or tamarind chutney. A sprinkling of sliced bananas is a useful addition to counter the fire of the chillies. Always serve with boiled rice.
- 25g/1oz butter
- 750g/1lb 10oz steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon Madras chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1½ tablespoons garam masala
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 600ml/20fl oz. beef stock
- 50g/1¾oz desiccated coconut
- 100g/3½oz sultanas
- Two chopped red chillies with seeds
1. Melt the butter in a large, sturdy pan (a cast-iron skillet is ideal) over a medium heat. Add the steak, in batches, and fry for a few minutes until browned and then remove to a plate. Add the onions to the same pan and fry for 10 minutes, or until softened and golden-brown.
2. Add the garlic and fry for one minute, and then return the meat to the pan, along with any juices on the plate. Stir in the chilli powder, turmeric, one tablespoon of the garam masala, and the salt, and cook for one minute.
3. Add the stock, followed by the coconut and sultanas. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over a low heat for 45 minutes to an hour or until the beef is tender. Stir in the remaining garam masala and serve. Often, a good dollop of straight-from-the-fridge yoghurt (Greek style) over the beef soothes the heat. Enjoy!
Remember the Golden Rule about drinks with curries….it’s water always, beer sometimes…wine NEVER.
NOT-SO-DUMB AND DUMBER
An archaeologist and a treasure hunter are sitting next to each other on a long flight. The archaeologist thinks (as they all do) that treasure hunters are so dumb that he could get one over on any one of them dead easy…
So the archaeologist asks if the treasure hunter would like to play a fun game.
The treasure hunter is tired and just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and tries to catch a few winks. The archaeologist persists, and says that the game is really, really, a lot of fun.
“I ask you a question, and if you don’t know the answer, you pay me only $5; you ask me a question, and if I don’t know the answer, I will pay you $500,” the archaeologist says.
This catches the treasure hunter’s attention and to keep the archaeologist quiet, he agrees to play the game.
The archaeologist asks the first question. ‘What’s the distance from The Earth to the Moon?’
The Treasure hunter doesn’t say a word, reaches in his pocket, pulls out a five-dollar bill, and hands it to the archaeologist.
Now, it’s the treasure hunter’s turn. He asks the archaeologist, ‘What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down with four?’
The archaeologist uses his laptop and searches all references he can find on the Net. He sends e-mails to all the smart friends he knows, all to no avail.
After one hour of searching he finally gives up. He wakes up the treasure hunter and hands him $500. The Treasure hunter pockets the $500 and goes right back to sleep.
The archaeologist is going nuts not knowing the answer. He wakes the treasure hunter up and asks, ‘Well, so what goes up a hill with three legs and comes down with four?’
The Treasure hunter reaches in his pocket, hands the archaeologist $5 and goes back to sleep.
This from the greatest Heavyweight of all time:-This from the greatest Heavyweight of all time:-
“Why waltz with a guy for 10 rounds if you can knock him out in one?“...Rocco Francis Marchegiano,(aka, ‘Rocky’ Marciano, aka, ‘The Brockton Blockbuster’)
49 fights, 49 wins,43 by KO
I’ll see y’all in the bar
July 20, 2014
GOLD, LIKE LOVE, IS WHERE YOU FIND IT
One of the best sights in my part of the English Riviera is seeing treasure hunters out on the wet sand at Low Tide and keeping well away from the ‘Dry’. Sure, they will find coins and rings but not in any profusion. Some will find more than others but the one thing they all have in common is they are following a dictum penned when UK beach hunting techniques were in their infancy. That dictum states the best place to hunt for rings and jewellery is out on the wet sand at Low Tide.
In those early days over thirty-five years ago, the development of successful UK beach hunting methods was a ‘suck-it-and-see’ learning curve, and yes, sure enough the early pioneers did find gold and silver below the High Water mark; and that apparently, sealed the deal. But it ain’t necessarily so.
Like inland hunting, the best finds (usually) come from habitation sites or where people gather in number: The equation is, High People Numbers + Habitation/Meeting Places = Casual Losses. However, on beaches it’s a little different in that in the UK where water temperatures are generally nippier; most beach users tend to stay up in the dry sand areas, with only a small percentage venturing into the briny even on the hottest summer days. In Florida, Spain, and in the hotter beach resorts, the opposite is true; more people are in the water, thus, losses are commensurately higher.
Rings (for example) found below the High Tide Line, have been washed there by eroding wave action having originally been lost in the dry sand. Some of course will have fallen from the fingers of swimmers and medallions torn from their necks by wave action. Indeed, popular swimming holes in lakes or non-tidal places will see a gradual build-up of lost items.
9-carat ring found amongst sea shells of same weight – 2.8 grams.
Certainly wave action tends to distribute items by weight and shape. The 9-carat ring* in Photo 1 weighs in at 2.8-grams and was found ( by Jack Dey) amongst sea shells of the same weight close to the High Tide Line, dry sand side, and the inference is clear. Nonetheless, quality finds will nearly always come from areas where:-
(a) Beach users gather, usually signalled by an abundance of trash (a sure sign of treasure)
(b) Using the correct coil configuration (size and type) for the prevailing conditions
(c) Working slowly amongst the junk
Had Jack assumed the digital readout of ‘52’ was a pull-tab it would still be there waiting for another more thorough detectorist. Injudicious use of the Discrim Mode can be costly – I and Jack dig all signals…we also have an enviable collection of pull-tabs.
My best piece of jewellery to date, can be seen on the Garrett website, and came from way up in the dry sand with a Sea Hunter II pi, having drawn a blank on the wet. It’s hardly forensic proof I know, but I’m quite content that the dry sand is the vault, and a carefully operated metal detector the key.
*Registered ‘52’ on the Garrett ATPro International – as do pull-tabs.
Q: What’s 6” long, 2”wide, and drives women wild?
A: a $100 bill!
“Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.” – George Carlin
I asked God for a good Roman site to detect, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I went out Nighthawking and asked for forgiveness. – Me.
What they’d have you believe…
All archaeological research is groundbreaking.
“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.” Marcus Tullius Cicero
Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum…
“The Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure Act have revolutionised archaeology, ensuring that finds found by ordinary members of the public are rewriting history. Many of the most important finds have ended up in museum collections across the country, thanks to the generosity of funding bodies. The PAS is a key part of the British Museum’s nationwide activity to support archaeology and museums through its network of locally based Finds Liaison Officers (FLO). The Museum is committed to the long-term success of the scheme.”
The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism….William Osler
I’ll see y’all in the bar!
July 1, 2014
AT PRO & AT GOLD TIPS
My reader emailed to ask for a reprise of some earlier tips about getting even better results out of a couple of Garrett’s detectors – the ATPro and ATGold — so here goes. But first a word of warning: Though these tips will not invalidate your Warranty, they could fast-track newbies into a twilight home for the terminally ga-ga.
ATPro – Going Deeper, Going Gold!
If despite owning a Garrett ATPro International (ATP), your haul of gold rings is a tad on the lean side, try this over the next three/four beach outings. Dig all signals of ’45’ and above — it’s soft sand after all — in PRO ‘Custom’ with Iron Discrim at ‘30’, or, in PRO mode with ‘All Metal’ and ‘Iron Discrim’ set to ‘00’ out on the wet stuff. Besides digging pull-tabs, you’ll also be digging platinum too!!!! Let Stouty how you get on, with pics if possible for publication on here.
Indeed, you can ‘sharpen’ the ATPro by dropping the GB to between ‘12’ and ‘14’ when working over dry, or saltwater (wet) beach sand. It’ll be noisier than normal, popping and crackling and liable to take those among you of a tense disposition to the edge of insanity….but you will find deep coins and rings especially when harnessed to the ‘45’ technique. Give it three/four goes, eh? But I have to say, that I cannot pay the medical bills should you go completely doolally!
Despite what Garrett’s blurb writer says about the ATGold (ATG) not being up to the mark in a saltwater environment, this supreme nugget hunter actually turns in a not half-bad performance over the salty wet stuff. So, if you’ve got one of these jobbies and fancy a few hours on the beach…give it a go! It’s superb up in the dry sand when in DISC 1 mode.
However, if during your beach sortie and for some inexplicable reason you’re tempted out onto the wet sand, then DISC2 (US coins mode) is where it’s at! It’s a pre-set mode that eliminates one pixel of foil and two pixels in the pull-tab range, and Ground Balance accordingly. You’ll soon start digging coins and if you’ve been a good Boy Scout, heavier gold rings will start to show – at least those weighing in excess of 4-grams. You can forget smaller, thin-section gold rings, but then again, half a loaf is better than nowt in an area previously thought to be off-limits to ATG’s. How do I know this? Garrett’s Steve Moore tipped me off when I had a problem with a section of highly mineralised beach known to contain some tasty bits and pieces.
I haven’t a clue about this latest Garrett (pi). Sorry folks!
WHAT A GUY!
A Scotsman and his wife were walking past a chic new restaurant.
“Did you smell that food?” she asked. “Incredible!”
Being a kind hearted Scot, he thought, “What the heck, I’ll treat her!”
So, they walked past it again…
Ferrari ‘375 Plus’ Fetches £10.75-Million at Auction
A fine example of the legendary ‘375 Plus’ was sold at Bonham’s Auctioneers for the record sum making it the most expensive car sold in Britain. Only five were built and they competed in the 1954 World Sports Car Championship; at Le Mans, Silverstone, and in the Italian classic, the Mille Miglia. This particular car still bears traces of the 1957 Cuban Grand Prix race colours.
But let me play Devil’s Advocate for the moment. Following the dictum of archaeology’s ‘Hard Left’ faction who promote the notion that all land, artefacts, and collectibles should belong to the People (read; them!), would this Ferrari be better served – as would all other collectibles presumably – by being taken into public ownership, as opposed to being stored in a private collection where it will (according to them) only be appreciated by privileged few? But as an archaeological artifact, one has to ask; has this superb example of automobile heritage lost its contextual importance? Further, is it ethically right to deal and profit in or from collectables?
Perhaps it all depends who’s in power at the time, and who defines what constitutes a ‘collectable’. I suspect Stalinists, Marxists, Leninists, Ho Chi Minn-ists, Pol-Pot-ists and émigré Englishmen of the Burgess, Philby, and Maclean manqué, will have little doubt.
“They Got an Awful Lot of Football in Brazil… “
My apologies to Ole Blue Eyes, but this is serious. Can you believe it: The USA getting so far in the World Cup when England went out in the early stages? I mean, it’s the English national game! It’s simply not cricket, old boy. How would the former-colonists like it if an English team went to the US and won their World Series? Huh? Huh? And what’s the FMDAC/NCMD or Task Force, doing about it? That’s I’d like to know?
I reckon ‘Yogi’ Berra (NY Mets, and Yankees) had it right when he said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
(1) An old Jewish man is dying in his hovel in the Steppes of Stalinist Russia. There is a menacing banging on the door. ‘Whose there?’ the old man weakly enquires. ‘Death,’ comes the ominous reply. ‘Thank God,’ he says, ‘I thought it was the KGB.’
(2) A KGB officer is walking in the park and he sees and old Jewish man reading a book. The KGB man demands, “What are you reading old man?”
“I am trying to teach myself Hebrew,” the old man replies.
KGB presses on, “Why are you trying to learn Hebrew? It takes years to get a visa for Israel. You would die before the paperwork got done.”
“I am learning Hebrew so that when I die and go to Heaven I will be able to speak to Abraham and Moses. Hebrew is the language they speak in Heaven,” the old man replies.
“Ah,” says the KGB man triumphantly, “What if when you die you go to Hell?”
“Russian, I already know,” replies the old man
(3) Why do communist archaeologists operate in threes? A. One to read, one to write, and one to keep an eye on the two intellectuals.
“Those who are weak don’t fight. Those who are stronger might fight for an hour. Those who are stronger still might fight for many years. The strongest fight their whole life. They are the indispensable ones.”…..Bertolt Brecht
I’ll see y’all in the bar….
June 24, 2014
C’MON, LET’S HEAR IT LOUD FOR ROGER BARBRICK!
They say ‘Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Man’ and when the ‘hour’ came the ‘man’ was there. Recently, Roger Barbrick got all fired up, and took on ‘City Hall’. This hobby of ours owes him a huge vote of thanks, and we are all the beneficiaries of his tenacity. He recognised a breach in the wall, stepped in and went after the ill-informed local legislators to win a major victory in protecting the future of metal detecting on Massachusetts’ beaches.
Yet again, another piece of arkie-inspired anti-metal detecting legislation was defeated, and yet again, a local authority acting on spiteful partisan prejudice masquerading as ‘evidence’ came seriously unglued.
Roger inspired thousands of detectorists to sign his petition. ‘City Hall’ backed down. Why? Perhaps the elected counsellors realised that thousands of very angry detectorists amounts to thousands of very angry votes that wouldn’t be coming their way. It’s a truism that for every vote lost, TWO have to be won to break even. It’s probably the first time the power of metal detecting votes has been marshalled in this way.
Nevertheless, the depressing element of Roger’s magnificent victory was that it happened in SPITE OF the national detecting organisations (who pocket your cash to supposedly defend your hobby) NOT BECAUSE of them. To me at least, that sounds their death knell.
Nonetheless, just imagine what a committee of ‘Roger Barbricks’ might achieve nationally!
Large ones all round!
If you have any doubts whatsoever about the sanity of some of the more vocal anti-metal detecting archaeo-bloggers’, check out a couple of the more vociferous cess-pits where the outbursts are likely to confirm your suspicions. Here you’ll learn – according to one of the outpatients — that ISIS terrorists are financially supported by anyone who collects coins or relics, which certainly includes metal detectorists. Yep, you read it right!
The psychosis lurking in these unhinged logic illustrates perfectly the extent of their phobias and the fragile grip these people have on reality. In the terms of their warped logic then, you, your family, and anyone else who supports your hobby, supports terrorism. Arguably what’s more disturbing, is that these people are not getting the counselling they so obviously need.
On the other hand, they could simply be; repugnant, malicious, ignorant, wilfully ill-informed, and certainly ill-mannered specimens of the human race – nutters!
Over on the Peter Tompa’s excellent Cultural Property Observer blog the Washington, DC Attorney poses a question:-
“It’s estimated that there are only approximately 11,000 archaeologists in the United States […] of this small number, only an infinitesimal few seem to be active in lobbying against private and museum collecting, perhaps 50-100 or so.
“So, why all the influence? Could it be because this small group works hand in hand with foreign governments (including most recently the Egyptian military dictatorship) that offer excavation permits? Or that they are joined at the hip with cronies in both the State Department and in US law enforcement? Or that their time and efforts are effectively funded by tax or tuition dollars? Or that lazy media outlets are all too often ready to take what they say at face value rather than actually check sources? Or, all of the above? “
Er…all of the above Peter!
Some of our critics already know and abide by Mark Twain’s celebrated quote ….
“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please”…
I’ll see y’all in the bar!
June 19, 2014
GETTING TOP DOLLAR FOR YOUR COINS
Here in the UK roman, Celtic, and medieval hammered coins are regular ‘keepers’ but some hobbyists to my knowledge are selling too cheap. How then do you get the premium rate for your finds, especially coins? Well for starters every British treasure hunter should have on the bookshelf a copy of Seaby’s Coins of England (often available in charity shops at a fraction of the new price), and Roman Coins and Their Values, as guides of what to expect pricewise. However, bear in mind that the figures quoted are the buying, not the selling prices. The principle of what follows applies equally Stateside.
However before we get into the meat of the subject let’s get one thing out of the way first; that of Nighthawking and the illegal acquisition of coins and finds. Trespassing on any land at any time of the day, not just at night, with the intention of stealing coins and other valuable artefacts is theft and covered by the Theft Act.
In truth, the £66.000 Nighthawking Report (paid for by the taxpayer!!) showed less than 1.5 incidents of so-called ‘Nighthawking’ per month; or put another way and to put this so-called ‘heinous crime wave’ into perspective, more people are caught and prosecuted for riding their bikes at night without lights. The ‘1.5’ figure is a worrying statistic in that there are some really dumb asses out there, but like death and taxes, the brain dead will always be with us.
It works like this:- Fred and Jim are going out to trespass and steal roman coins (for arguments sake) from a protected archaeological site under the cover of darkness. The penalties if caught are severe with the possibility of several months in the ‘slammer’ a real prospect. Let’s further suppose they find ten roman gold coins, each worth on the legitimate market, a Grand apiece. But these coins have no provenance, and the dodgy dealer knows this so offers them a fraction of their real worth in cash, say, £50 per coin. That’s a total of £500 split two ways for a night’s work which works out at £20 per week in wages over the three months. Oh, these guys are smart! Not!
The moral of the story is to do the job properly; get the requisite permission of the landowner, do the agreement, then sell them fully provenanced and recorded at the highest price! Simples! If you later call in on your farmer/landowner and drop say, £500 ‘smackers’ in his/her mitts, you’ll be held in the highest esteem and offers of other farmland will come rolling in as other landowners clamor for a slice of the action. Works for me!
A Fistful of Celtic – The Man With no Name is Back: The Dodgy Dealer is Waiting!
Never mind trying to identify stone circles in metal detector adverts, here’s a real poser: ‘Horn-rimmed Harry’ another bad-mouthing ‘anti’ arkie; he of the girly shoulder length hair is at it again and looking decidedly shit-faced when recognized by two of my informants as he was leaving a London coin-dealer’s premises in somewhat of a hurry and tucking what appeared to be a bulging wallet into an inside coat pocket. Why the haste one wonders? Perhaps he was bursting for crap? Yes, of course, that must the reason……
A man who had been caught Nighthawking thousands of pounds worth of Roman Gold bracelets went to a lawyer seeking defence. He didn’t want to go to jail. But his lawyer told him, “Don’t worry. You’ll never have to go to jail with all that money.” And the lawyer was right. When the man was sent to prison, he didn’t have a dime.
The two arkies were having lunch when suddenly one of them jumped up and said, “I have to go back to the office – I forgot to lock the finds safe!”
The other arkie replied, “What are you worried about? We’re both here.”
Remember (the words of Mighty Confucius)….
Swinging chain denotes a warm seat…
Man with no lining to trouser pockets, feel cocky all day…
I’ll see y’all in the bar!
May 23, 2014
There’s a lot of confusion particularly amongst some UK novice detectorists as to the ins and outs of written agreements with landowners. In fact, it’s all very Straightforward. If you want it Kosher then go to the fountain’s head for refreshment: The Portable Antiquities Scheme is the source, handing down excellent advice on the subject from its website http://finds.org.uk/ (much of it applicable in principle to the US too, by the way). I quote:-
Guidance for landowners, occupiers and tenant farmers in England and Wales
Metal-detecting, Field-walking and searching for Archaeological Objects: guidance for landowners, occupiers and tenant farmers in England and Wales
This guidance had been jointly produced by the Country, Land & Business Association, the National Farmers Union and the Portable Antiquities Scheme, September 2010.Finds Agreement…
*It is recommended that landowners/farmer occupiers have a written ‘finds agreement’ (available from the CLA or NFU) with anyone wishing to search, outlining the nature of the permission, the area to be searched and what happens to any objects found.
*Many people go to the countryside to search for archaeological objects. They mostly search on cultivated and arable land.
*The majority of people looking for archaeological objects are metal-detector users, and are likely to be members of the National Council for Metal Detecting (www.ncmd.co.uk) and/or the Federation of Independent Detectorists (www.fid.newbury.net). Both organizations have a Code of Conduct by which their members are required to operate as a condition of membership and also provide members with public liability insurance.
*Field-walkers and/or other amateur or professional archaeologists also may seek permission to search. In most cases they will recover finds from the soil surface, such as worked flint or pottery, but (with the landowner/farmer occupier’s permission) may also wish to excavate. Such individuals may be affiliated to a local museum, archaeological society, university or be professional archaeological contractors. Many archaeologists will be members of the Institute for Archaeologists (www.archaeologists.net) and follow its Code of Conduct.
*A Code of Practice on Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales (see http://www.finds.org.uk) has been endorsed by all key archaeological bodies & metal-detecting & landowner/farmer organisations. This is the first time that these bodies have joined together to define responsible metal-detecting and provide a clear definition of what constitutes good practice.
*Landowner/farmer occupiers also have a duty of care under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 and 1984
Bill Pearlstein, a principal of the US law firm, Pearlstein & McCullough, summed-up the basis of it all when he wrote on Washington, DC, Peter Tompa’s authoritative Cultural Property Observer blog, that, “The fundamental principal of US and UK law that no one can ever take title of stolen property has been the basis of numerous successful claims for the return of antiquities.”
Some of the more astute and better organised detecting clubs and groups retain their own firms of solicitors (attorneys in the US) – whose names appear on the clubs’ headed notepaper – and who negotiate mutually agreeable search contracts with third parties. The contents of these contracts are nobody’s business except the signatories: It’s their deal, their business. The same goes for rallies. These are legal and wholesome events enjoyed by many and the fact the usual suspects foam at the mouth in protest, is hard luck on them!
A group of terrorists burst into the conference room at the Hilton Hotel, where the British archaeologists were holding their annual convention. More than a hundred archaeologists were taken hostage. The terrorist leader announced that unless their demands were met, they would release one archaeologist every hour.
THE CAN OF WORMS THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO OPEN….DAYHAWKING!
It’s manifestly obvious, even to the terminally dim, that anyone venturing forth on land that’s not theirs requires permission – Rights of Way accepted — to do so from the landowner. Though it’s mainly metal detectorists who chase down this permission, other pursuits requiring similar access include among others, ‘field-walkers and/or other amateur or professional archaeologists’ who all need the same agreements to some degree or another. Precisely how many amateur fieldwalkers/archaeologists ride roughshod over landowner’s rights by wilfully ignoring written permission, or how they divvy-up of their ill-gotten pottery shards and flint tools without the landowner getting a fair shake — though figures are apocryphal – is at best rare; at worst non-existent. There’s little more frustrating than researching a meadow or field only to have had these ‘Sunday Strollers’ removing artefacts willy-nilly and all going unrecorded. Is this ‘irresponsible’ archaeology? Of course it is!
What at first glance appears to be a new phenomenon, currently dubbed, ‘Dayhawking’, has been going on for years, especially by well-meaning bumbling amateur history societies. Indeed, archaeology has a long and distinguished record of looting other country’s artefacts mostly craftily cloaked in the mantle of ‘research’. Yeah, right!
The total sums ‘earned’ from this insidious mugging is anyone’s guess; but assuming the miscellany of items hoiked from the UK’s arable farmland as just one prime example, pans out at £1.00 per item, yes just one pound, for every pottery shard and flint tool stolen without written permission since 1900 say, must run to millions of pounds.
I often come into contact with landowners in a social context, and many tell me they have given verbal permission to non-detectorists (arkies, etc.) on the basis that, “they seemed harmless enough,” and are astounded when I tell them pottery shards and flints are worth good money. “What b******s”, one NFU man told me, “Thanks for the information.”
Whereas all NCMD/FID affiliated metal detecting clubs initiate written agreements as a matter of course, sadly similar ‘agreement templates’ are unsurprisingly, you might think, missing from archaeological websites. This suggests amateurs of the Sunday afternoon, rambling ‘Bobble-hatted Brigade,’ dupe landowners to ‘opt in’ – or put crudely…. ‘If they don’t ask, we won’t tell ‘em.’ One has only look at the PAS database to discover the huge discrepancy between the over-abundance of detector-found items compared to what amounts to a famine of artefacts from archaeological activity. Why is this I wonder? I’ll leave that for you to answer!
So, be alert to the threat of Dayhawks. Tell your landowners about them and negotiate where you can; sole search rights!
A guy goes down for breakfast and it is quite obvious his wife has the hump with him. He asks he what’s the matter? She replies, “Last night you were talking in your sleep and I want to know who Linda is?” Thinking quickly on his feet he tells her that Linda was ‘Lucky Linda’ and was the name of a horse that he bet on that day and won him £50. She seemed quite happy with the explanation and he went off to work. When he got home that night, his wife had the hump with him again. Asking her what the matter was now, she replied “Your horse just phoned.”
May 14, 2014
Pirate’s Treasure Up For Grabs!
Born near Calais in northern France between 1688 and 1690 into a wealthy middle-class family, Olivier Levasseur after a good education, became an officer in the French navy and fought in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714); a period of hostility between the European powers, including a divided Spain, over who had the right to succeed Charles II as King of Spain.
France’s King, Louis XIV, conferred on Levasseur Letters of Marque, effectively licensing him as a privateer — or pirate — to attack foreign shipping and seize cargoes for the French crown. Privateers were an accepted part of naval warfare and were authorised by most of the major naval powers.
By the cessation of hostilities and he and his crew had developed an unquenchable thirst for the adventurous, not to mention lucrative, pirate life; a lifestyle they were reluctant to abandon. In 1716 they threw in their lot with master pirate, Benjamin Hornigold.
A born leader, Levasseur was every inch the pirate figure, and looked the part; sporting a livid cutlass scar across his face. His bold, swift, attacking and raiding style, earned him the soubriquet, ‘The Buzzard. ’ The legend of Levasseur was born. He had found his niche in life. He was successful, very successful, amassing great wealth from his nefarious activities and is widely regarded as the wealthiest of all pirates and much of his vast wealth remains undiscovered.
In one of piracy’s most renowned exploits he captured the Lisbon-bound, Portuguese galleon ‘Nossa Senhora do Cabo,’ loaded to the gunnels with treasure. Levasseur boarded her without firing a single shot because the Cabo, having been seriously damaged in a violent storm had jettisoned her cannons to avoid capsizing.
The captured booty was vast; gold and silver bars, chests laden with golden Guineas, precious stones, pearls, silks, and religious icons belonging to Goa’s, Se Cathedral, including the fabulous, so-called, ‘Flaming Cross of Goa’ made from the purest gold, inlaid with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds (valued at around £10,000,000). The Cross was so heavy, three crewmen were required to carry it aboard Levasseur’s pirate ship!
As was the pirate custom, the captured treasure was shared amongst the crew with each man receiving some £50,000 in golden guinea pieces, and forty diamonds apiece. Levasseur naturally, took the ‘Flaming Cross of Goa’.
In 1724 the French government issued a pirate amnesty. Levasseur despatched an emissary to the Indian Ocean island of Bourbon (now known as Réunion) east of Madagascar, to talk terms with the French government’s representative. However, the amnesty came with strings attached… the French wanted the return of their stolen loot. Levasseur was having none of that!
For next few years he kept a low profile living a quiet life in a hideout in the Seychelles. However, French agents eventually captured him on Madagascar, where taken prisoner, he was shipped in chains to the town of Saint-Denis, on Réunion. On 7th July 1730, he was hanged for piracy.
Standing on the scaffold, he tore off a necklace which he threw into the assembled crowd with his final words, “Find my treasure, the one who may understand it!” The necklace bore a code of seventeen lines leading to, legend says, his fabulous treasure. The whereabouts of the necklace remains unknown. Many tried to decipher the code; it remains unbroken.
The code is reproduced along with an alphabet believed to have been used by Levasseur previously which some believe, believe has masonic undertones.
If you think you want to tackle this be sure and read the following first…..
Seychellois man tormented by treasure hunt
Congrats to Odyssey Marine
The world leaders in underwater exploration have done it again with the recovery of gold bullion from the wreck of the Central America which went down in a storm off the Carolinas. Their success again highlights the fact (unpalatable for some) that private enterprise leads the way in underwater exploration and treasure recovery projects.
Investing in these ventures is a gamble but one worth taking, as opposed to what might one expect in the way of financial returns from sinking one’s ‘hard earned’ into (presumably) for-profit private archaeological companies? Not a bloody lot I suggest. I can already hear the gnashing of teeth and the whining and moaning from certain quarters at this obvious truism.
Critics of Odyssey Marine are more often than not, green-eyed heritologists rampant with jealousy, or others of this ilk with radical axes to grind. Naturally enough, they very conveniently forget to mention that Odyssey funds its own explorations, unlike archaeology that relies on financial support often arm-twisted out developers, builders, local councils, or unwilling tax .
The result? Simply look at the appalling situation across the country where millions of artefacts hoiked from archaeological digs are languishing unloved, unrecorded and unclassified. The loss to the historical record by some of these so-called professionals, beggars belief.
All of which raises the question: Should ‘private-enterprise archaeology’ be more accountable to its financers, particularly where the term ‘professional’ is the incestuous metaphor for ‘excellence’? Some people earnestly believe the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport, consider primary legislation to put an end to this shameful state of affairs.
Ty Brook – The Thinking Man’s Treasure Hunter
Following on from Dick Stout’s comments on Ty Brook, I have to add that if one thing in this life is for-sure, Ty Brook, will never see the inside of the US Diplomatic Corp’s staff canteen! No Suh! I doubt they’d even give him the key to the Janitor’s toilet! He is to diplomacy what the Boston Strangler was to door-to-door salesmen; you see, he’s possessed of this very embarrassing gift for saying things the way they are. He takes no prisoners. Oh yes, he’s an A-1 electronics engineer; A-1 treasure hunter and writer who he knows what he’s talking about!
His book, Inside Treasure Hunting, is a revelation; what he writes is equally applicable to the UK. The section on buying and selling used equipment for example, is a real-eye-opener. His comments and advice on over-twiddling with the controls, especially the DISCRIM and SENS, will as usual, fall on the stony ground of the terminally dim.
It’s all good stuff and well worth a read and well deserving of a place on every thinking treasure hunter’s bookshelf.
Oh Yes, Size Really Matters…
I sometimes wonder – not so much how many hobbyists really understand this hobby – but how many really understand the workings and capabilities of their machines. During a recent sojourn in the Duchy of Cornwall I managed a couple of beachcombing sorties to a particular cove; mostly sandy but with a rock-strewn reef exposed by the Ebb tide.
During one of the sorties I met up with a fellow traveller searching the boulder-strewn and rocky reef section of the beach, an area screaming out for a small-diameter coil and a sharp thin-ish trowel, or screwdriver for hoiking out coins wedged into, and between the rocks. He was searching with a hard-wired, 10”-coil, and a spade-type digging tool. Me? I had my ATPro kitted out with a 4.5”-Super Sniper and a 25-yr old Alligator trowel.
During conversation, he grassed-up his detecting mate, “My pal searches here with a 15”-coil.”
“Well good for him,” says I, “That leaves more for the rest of us.”
He looked baffled.
“And he takes ages to dig down through this stuff. I don’t even bother! This area has been picked clean,” he advised, then looking down at my machine (the ATPro), “Ah, there’s a lot of them down here. They’re very popular.”
“Surely,” I says, “You both must be missing lots of stuff, especially that mate of yours?”
He again looked baffled.
“Anyway, have you found anything?” says I.
“Only this,” says I, “Right where you were hunting along the edge of the rocks. It was end-on, with a crisp clear signal,” fishing out what appears to be a sestertius of Emperor Commodus (31 August 161 AD – 31 December 192 AD). According to the Cornwall Heritage Trust, ‘Roman sites and finds in Cornwall are few and far-between, providing only tantalising glimpses of their presence…’.
The coin weighs 10.6 grams and is 26mm in diameter, and struck from oricalcum, a golden bronze alloy. It may have been washed inshore from a roman shipwreck, particularly bearing in mind that the romans evolved a lucrative trade exporting tin-ore mined in Cornwall, to Europe.
“Those small coils don’t miss much do they,” he said.
This time I looked baffled. This is not rocket science, I mused to myself.
Why, I wondered, was my new pal using a non-changeable, 10-inch hot-wired coil in an area where he must have known a 10”-coil would be as effective as a concrete parachute? More to the point why does his pal insist on using a 15”-incher over the same ground; where all coins will be end-on, wedged in rocks and ‘blind’ to most coils over 8”-diameter and where a screwdriver or thin trowel, not a shovel, is the ideal recovery tool?
I’ll tell you why. He’s a beachcomber who works the sandy areas out on the extremes of the foreshore; rightly he opts for depth. But mistakenly, he imagines he’ll find the same degree of success over rocky reefs. The problem for him is that he’s trying to cover the entire beach with a single machine and one that doesn’t allow for coil interchangeability. His metal detector was the type that’s perfect for deep, wet/dry sand work only.
As I’ve written previously, I’d always opt for a smaller coil before buying a larger diameter one especially something half the size of Texas. On beaches where rocks and rubbish rule…go small!
“Gold is a treasure, and he who possesses it does all he wishes to in this world, and succeeds in helping souls into paradise…”
I’ll see y’all in the bar,…arrrgh!
May 2, 2014
THE LOVE THAT DARES TO SPEAK IT’S NAME…TREASURE HUNTING!
My apologies to Oscar Wilde; playwright, wit, and celebrated homosexual, who first coined the phrase, though in the example above I substituted ‘To’ for his original ‘Not’. In the late Victorian era, when dear old Oscar was holding court in Victorian London’s artiest haunts and affecting minor outrages with his mon amour, Lord Alfred Douglas, being ‘gay’ was punishable with incarceration in one of Her Majesty’s hotels. Oscar finally wound up doing two years Penal Servitude (hard labor) in Reading Gaol – the inspiration for his famous ballad.
Thank goodness in these enlightened times society is more understanding. Nowadays, tyrants are narcissists, hard-Left archaeo-politicos who peddle the Marxist line that private property is a no-no, along with other assorted dross posing as academics (even detectorists!) whose life’s work is portraying detectorists/ treasure hunters — that’s YOU by the way – as the kind of thing one might inadvertently step in on the sidewalk. They get their rocks off insulting anyone they consider their intellectual inferiors…usually detectorists/treasure hunters.
Of course, there’s nothing unethical in being a treasure hunter – far from it. Neither is there anything wicked about hunting for profit PROVIDED, I suggest, that what you find is legally found, and suitably recorded somewhere; in a diary perhaps; on a pack of Marlboros (other cigarettes are available); or better still, with a museum – just give ‘em the data. It’s YOUR history too! More people own metal detectors than dabble in archaeology as a pastime….so don’t let the tail wag the dog! The United States is the spiritual home of treasure hunting…be proud of that heritage.
From my experiences of visiting the States, I know there’s cadre of detectorist/treasure hunters who have amassed superb collections of material from the Civil War era — for example — and who are themselves experts in the subject. The problem is that researchers unconnected with metal detecting have a hard time tracking down these expert historians; they and their collections scattered to the four winds.
Perhaps what’s needed is a register/database of these clued-up specialist historian? From my own experience as a freelancer and editor, tracking down good and reliable specialists can be a nightmare; not only where a photograph of a particular artefact is required for illustration, but how and where to locate such a piece. If such a database existed it would prove to be an invaluable research tool.
If it were possible to engage this database – if the will exists to bring it to fruition – it would dovetail neatly with an emerging new phenomenon. Taking their cue from the UK’s world-beating Portable Antiquities Scheme, some of the shrewder US archaeologists are beginning to both recognize the advantages of tapping into this seam of knowledge, and are slowly realizing that the usual lurid tales about metal detecting is nonsense propaganda. Some are even on the receiving end of ad hominen insults and abuse from the aforementioned vacuous ‘academic’ archaeo-dross for siding with us, and many are keen to put daylight between these weirdoes and mainstream archaeology for fear that all archaeologists will be similarly branded.
So while we have to contend with our detractors, so do some archaeologists.
A translator is someone who liked words as a kid but didn’t have enough charisma to be an accountant.
It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.….W. C. Fields
I’ll see y’all in the bar!
April 27, 2014
Most of you will recall the debate on Stout Standards when UK archaeologists tried to deny that they, unlike us ‘unscientific’ types, carefully excavated the top three to four feet of topsoil – the same topsoil in which we as detectorists find our casual losses. These UK archaeological know-nothings, aided and abetted by their bum-licking stool-pigeon who inhabit the fringes (yes, this kind of low-life really does exist), collaborated to say that ABSOLUTELY, we were destroying so-called, (but) mythical contextual data in that topsoil.
This is the logo of RESCUE. Says it all really!
Now ‘Eres a Funny Thing!
‘North Korea detains a ‘rash’ American’… headlined a brief report. Intrigued, I read on…
According to the brief report in Britain’s Daily Telegraph on the 26 April, the North Koreans detained a US citizen identified as Miller Matthew Todd, 24, for “rash behaviour” on the 10 April while passing through immigration control. According to the North Korean news agency, KCNA, he was taken into custody for “his rash behaviour in the course of going through formalities for entry.” Upon his arrival, the KCNA announced, he tore up his tourist visa shouting that “he would seek asylum” and had come to North Korea “after choosing it as a shelter.” Blimey! What sort of loony-toon would leave the free West to live under communism?
April 22, 2014
THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER AWAKENS
Over on a certain Warsaw blogsite where miscellaneous claptrap masquerades as educated opinion, and rarely fails to disappoint, has just had a top-up of the usual ad hominen and sexist insults. It’s all quite amusing, though it says more about those who commit this kind of nonsense than those on the receiving end of the vitriol.
The latest effort is a classic, laced with latent envy. The Warsaw blog’s chief scribe informs us that Roberta Mazza, a Classics lecturer and Ancient Historian at the University of Manchester (UK) wrote a screed on her blog under the attention-grabbing title, ‘Papyri, private collectors and academics: why the wife of Jesus and Sappho matter,’ giving intricate details about a fragment of papyri. The Warsaw blogger quotes Ms Mazza thus:
“Dirk Obbink does not provide any detail on acquisition circumstances and documents in the final publication of what is now called in papyrological language ‘P. Sapp. Obbink’, just out (Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 189, 2014, 32-49).
The Warsaw scribbler then adds a rider:
“It seems rather unfortunate that somebody (Dr Obbink himself?) chose the scholar’s name to define the papyrus. It rather suggests he himself is the owner. Is he? How come?”
Is Wally on a Roll?
So, the famed Dr Dirk Obbink of Oxford University has secured a place in posterity by having an important piece of papyri named in his honour? Well not too worry I say to our Warsaw-based comrade, an internationally respected, academic colossus; you have your place in posterity too. Another type of paper exists that certainly reveres your memory…it comes on a roll of about 240 perforated sheets and usually found in the smallest, public room in most museums.
“The United States of America became the envy of the world because we welcomed the best and brightest minds from anywhere on the planet and gave them the opportunity to succeed” (I guess the dunces went East? Dick.) ……Naveen Jain
I’ll see you in the bar
April 15, 2014
AN INTERESTING PARA ON THE ODYSSEY MARINE WEBSITE
“Although the UK is not a signatory to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Convention for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage (CPUCH) and therefore not bound by CPUCH, Odyssey’s proposed agreement is consistent with the archaeological principles of CPUCH.”
Precisely why the UK is not a signatory to CPUCH’s shenanigans is unknown; maybe Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) is following the lead of the US?
WHERE HAVE YOU HEARD THIS BEFORE?
On the face of it UNESCO appears to be a safe anchorage for a host of fellow travelers: Self-righteous culturists; holier-than-thou archaeologists; and sanctimonious heritage crusaders.
Contrary to the soap-box ravings of Unesco’s fanatical evangelists, along with some of its bigoted casual labourers demanding full legal control over everyone else’s culture, and anyone audacious enough to question — what many people regard as — a rag-bag, corrupt, doctrine; this organization of international collaboration (so-called) is hardly the epitome of a non-corrupt, crime-free, non-political Utopia. An amalgam of sleazy, right-on, Collectivists perhaps.
The New American magazine’s recent analysis of Unesco unsurprisingly perhaps, pulled no punches.
“…In 1984, President Ronald Reagan, responding to considerable public outcry over a long string of UNESCO abuses, announced that the U.S. was dropping its membership in the organization. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by that time had accumulated a longstanding record of notoriety for waste, corruption, subversion, and espionage,”
Neither is The New American alone in its views:
UNESCO Damaging the World’s Treasures?
E. Guinea Leader Sends Playboy Son to UNESCO
The New American, continues:-
“Tens of millions of our tax dollars could soon flow into the massive UNESCO bureaucracy to fund a plethora of radical activities. UNESCO is busy worldwide promoting […] usurping national sovereignty over historical landmarks and natural wonders, claiming authority over maritime salvage and excavation, and devising new spiritual guidelines for humanity. Most importantly, UNESCO is pursuing a dangerous agenda that aims at establishing its authority as a global school board that will direct lifelong education for every soul on the planet.
“Noble-sounding words. Almost since its inception, however, UNESCO has been a lightning rod for criticism and bitter debate, due largely to its service as a conduit for blatant Communist propaganda, a forum for virulent anti-Americanism, and an aggressive advocate for radical social engineering. In 1955, Congressman Lawrence H. Smith of Wisconsin described the United Nations and UNESCO as “a permanent international snake pit where Godless Communism is given a daily forum for hate, recrimination, psychological warfare against freedom, and unrelenting moral aggression against peace.”
“Anti-Communists, patriotic organizations, and veterans groups had been protesting and documenting the offenses of UNESCO for many years and building the case for withdrawing U.S. membership, but it was UNESCO’s proposed New World Information Order (NWIO) that finally proved to be the last straw. Under the Orwellian NWIO scheme, UNESCO proposed to license and control all journalists, broadcasters, and media personnel worldwide — the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights notwithstanding. This finally got the attention of members of the “liberal” press, who for decades airily dismissed the warnings of UNESCO’s conservative critics. The NWIO provided the critical impetus needed to spur U.S. withdrawal.”
The cannier readers will already know where to find the dogma’s Mother Lode; now crystalized into a calorie-free regime, dubbed the Warsaw Diet, intended for the consumption of archaeo-politico weirdoes dipping their serving spoons into the rancid gumbo of a poisonous anti-collecting, anti-detecting, and anti-American blog. This dictatorial, but plentiful fare where the truth is carefully filleted out, is ravenously wolfed down by the loony fringe, along with the Commissars-in-Waiting, and heritage hangers-on, for whom, “usurping national sovereignty over historical landmarks,” is a core strategic belief.
“The Gipper” got it right it perhaps. The “Kipper” (two-faced, yellow, and gutless) and like the effect a smoked fish can have on one’s digestive system repeats; getting it wrong, again, and again, and again!
“How can you spot a communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you spot an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin” …..Ronald Reagan
I’ll see y’all in the bar!
April 11, 2014
TREASURE HUNTING AT ITS VERY BEST
TAMPA, Fla., July 22, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – “Odyssey Marine Exploration pioneers in the field of deep-ocean exploration, has recovered over 61 tons of silver bullion this month from a depth of nearly three miles.
“This recovery of bullion from the SS Gairsoppa, […] consists of 1,574 silver ingots weighing about 1,100 ounces each or almost 1.8 million troy ounces in total, sets a new record for the deepest and largest precious metal recovery from a shipwreck. The silver has been transported to a secure facility in the United Kingdom.”
The 5,237-ton SS Gairsoppa with her cargo of pig iron, tea, general cargo, and silver ingots (then worth £600,000 – $1.8 million US) inbound to London from Calcutta was part of convoy SL.64, when she was detached to Galway due to lack of fuel.
Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor
On February 16, 1941, west of Ireland, a patrolling German Focke-Wulf Fw 200 ‘Condor’, a four-engined long-range reconnaissance/attack aircraft circled her at 08:00 and being in radio contact with U-101 directed the submarine into the attack. Kapitänleutnant Ernst Mengersen* the U-101’s commander put a torpedo into the Gairsoppa’s starboard side by the No. 2 Hold. She went down within 20-minutes; her last reported position; 50°00’N 14°0’W, 300 miles (480 km) southwest of Galway Bay, Ireland.
Three of the ship’s lifeboats were launched, but only one, in the charge of the Second Mate Richard Ayres with four Europeans and two Lascars on board, made it away; the remaining crew were lost. By the 13th day adrift in wintry Atlantic seas only Richard Ayres, Robert Hampshire the radio officer, seaman-gunner, Norman Thomas, and a Lascar seaman, remained alive. Ayres’ boat reached the Cornish coast two weeks later off the rock-strewn, Caerthillian Cove in the parish of Landewednack. The boat capsized in heavy seas off the Lizard Point. Only Ayres was pulled from the sea alive. The others Robert Hampshire, Norman Thomas, and the unknown Lascar sailor, died trying to get ashore. They are buried in St Wynwallow’s Churchyard, Church Cove, Landewednack, Cornwall.
In 2011, Odyssey Marine discovered the wreck and her cargo of silver bullion bars with an estimated value of £150-million ($210 million US), delivering twenty per cent of the silver bars to the Royal Mint who have minted twenty-thousand .999 fine silver Limited Edition coins, denominated as a 50-pence pieces, struck from the recovered silver bullion.
SS Gairsoppa Britannia 2014 UK Quarter-Ounce Silver Coin £30.00 each
A fine tribute, and memorial, to a gallant crew.
Kapitänleutnant Mengersen among the crew of U-101 after patrol in December 1940
Kapitänleutnant Ernst Mengersen
Born 30 Jun 1912 Bremke, Lippe, Died 6 Nov 1995 (83)
12 ships sunk, total tonnage 68,071 GRT
1 warship sunk, total tonnage 1,190 tons
3 ships damaged, total tonnage 20,159 GRT
Co-incidence: Norman Thomas’s surviving aunt it transpires, a near neighbour of mine.
“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake”….Napoleon Bonaparte
I’ll see y’all in the bar!
April 6, 2014
THEY JUST DON’T ‘GET’ IT!
This little gem from that droll charity’s website, the Council for British Archaeology, under the heading;
Treasure and Portable Antiquities
“Treasure hunting’ appears to be becoming increasingly popular in the US and now the UK. It is therefore increasingly vital that everyone fully understands all the issues involved in the search for ‘treasure’ and the potentially devastating impact this can have on archaeology.”
Never mind all that bullshit CBA…what about the damaging impact archaeology has on metal detecting? It’s about time the CBA got it through its collective s dense noggin that searchers for ‘treasure’ have as much right as CBA members have to search for what they term ‘archaeological items’, and the days are over when they could insult us, and lie without being taken to task. Them days is over! And on current form, treasure hunters/detectorists are streets ahead in the reporting stakes as the dreadful situation that endures in the UK proves.
If there is a ‘devastating impact’ on the heritage, then it’s one caused by archaeologists themselves by allowing hundreds of thousands of priceless artefacts to lay unrecorded, unclassified, in hangars and sheds across Britain. The Institute of Archaeologists in Ireland (IAI), describes the situation as, “a very serious problem”. Even the CBA’s freelance sidekick, the detector-hating archaeo-blogger and AEC clairvoyant, Paul Barford, was moved to helpfully throw his hat into the ring, “The problem, however, is one that affects museums throughout the British Isles.”
All of which seems somewhat at odds with CBA Director Mike Heyworth’s remarks further down their website’s page:-
‘New discoveries have a lot to tell us about past human behaviour, but this can only happen if we record the fullest information about the finds and the place they are found. Evidence from the past is fragile and should not be damaged or lost in an attempt to generate financial profit for individuals. Britain’s treasures should be available for everyone to understand and appreciate, and kept safe and available for long-term study.’
Indeed, Britain’s treasure should be available for everyone to understand and unlike archaeology, detectorists and treasure hunters log finds with the Portable Antiquities Scheme; where again, unlike archaeology, hundreds of thousands of artefacts are NOT lying about in plastic bags unrecorded.
I doubt the CBA’s ‘rubber heel squad’ — if they have one — will pour into any passion into the badly needed investigation into the corruption, theft, and cause of the prevailing maladministration of the nation’s heritage. Whether any CBA members or affiliated archaeological groups have been party to the current ‘widespread’ scandal, and in the absence of a definite and positive statement from the CBA’s top brass, then the dark cloud of nudge, nudge, wink, wink, hangs over them.
Conceivably, the CBA ought to seriously consider issuing an edict; that all its members report the fruits of their excavations to the PAS so as to be sure of correct recording, and classifying.
Until then CBA, don’t lecture treasure hunting/metal detecting. You’ve got work to do!!
Two men are approaching each other on a sidewalk. Both are dragging their right foot as they walk. As they meet, one man looks at the other knowingly, points to his foot and says, “Vietnam, 1969.” The other points his thumb behind him and says, “Dog crap, 20 feet back.”
As the scandal of unclassified artefacts piling up in sheds and hangars across the land gathers momentum, there’s one outstanding question that needs answering….security. We know that down the years rogue archaeologists (oh yes, they exist) and those employed on excavations have slipped more than the odd roman oil-lamp down the sides of their Wellie boots, though such nefarious activities have , and still are, deflected towards metal detectorists as the sole cause of dodgy stuff hitting the cobbles. Precisely how a metal detector will locate a ceramic bowl or lamp is never explained by these propagandists.
Nevertheless, the right questions urgently need asking and archaeology put under intense scrutiny, especially where the public funding of excavations is involved. Daring to even suggest the question is in the eyes of some archaeologists tantamount to Heresy. It’s never popular and I can hear some in archaeology squealing like stuck pigs at the prospect, or, sticking pins in voodoo dolls of me, hoping that I’ll drop off this mortal coil before the truth emerges.
With highly collectable (read, pricey) ceramics such as oil-lamps, one has to look at artefact integrity and excavation security. Once artefacts highly saleable pieces have been hoiked from the ground only the terminally dim are unable to guess their future; currently, a proportion wind up in a shed, unclassified, un-recorded, though for others they with the added bonus that their origin is un-traceable. In an ideal world, every piece should be traceable back to the precise point from whence it was recovered. But we don’t live in an ideal world and shady archaeologists stride the globe; otherwise this rotten situation such as exists would never occur.
If the security surrounding archaeological artefacts is as porous as some believe, where are these stolen goods heading? Collectors? Maybe…but collectors are fully aware that for an item to have any value as a future investment, provenances are vital; and corrupt officials know this only too well also, which brings us the soft underbelly of heritage wheeler-dealing… corruption…who’s providing these faked provenances for stolen items? Though I can’t tell you precisely, I can certainly say who’s not and it ain’t treasure hunters or metal detectorists.
“I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it. …. Edith Sitwell
I’ll see you in the bar….
April 1, 2014
by John Howland
Britain’s archaeologists are apparently world leaders when it comes to maltreating artefacts. This depressing lack of an efficient recording and classification system makes that which is happening in Egypt look almost regimented. That hundreds of thousands of precious artefacts hoiked from excavations by ‘archaeologists’ (often by assorted work experience ‘yoofs,’ or students whose only motivation is the possibility of an ‘off piste’ leg-over at base-camp) are languishing unrecorded and unclassified, is nothing short of a national disgrace. Heads must roll.
The scandal broke in the wake of a report by the BBC’s, News Northern Ireland correspondent, Kevin Magee who reported that, “Hundreds of thousands of archaeological items recovered from historic sites in Northern Ireland are lying unclassified in plastic bags and boxes.
They are often being kept outside the jurisdiction because there is no proper facility to store them. One estimate says up to 24 container loads of archaeological objects are being stored by private companies.
The Institute of Archaeologists in Ireland (IAI), said it was “a very serious problem”. It said no tangible progress had been made to find a solution […] “It cost millions of pounds to dig the material out of the ground, but because of storage problems, neither students nor the general public can access them,” his report claims.
To no-one’s surprise at all, archaeology’s top brass have so far escaped censure, nor are resignations expected any time soon. In a perfect world, resignations would be a matter of personal honour – but we are dealing with cavalier archaeologists – some of whom clearly don’t know their dutiful arses from their ethical elbows. This putrid state of affairs demands the guilty ones be de-frocked, or whatever it is they do with disgraced archaeologists, whose next job (for which they are apparently under-qualified) should include the work mantra, ‘Do you want fries with that.’
But what do we get from archaeology’s arrogant element in reply to this national disgrace – you know the ones, them that’s always banging on about detectorists not recording ‘finds’? Nothing! Not a peep! Schtum! Behind-the-scenes apparently, there’s a concerted damage limitation exercise under way to deflect public attention away from the scandal by turning up the propaganda wick to encourage the belief that the real scourges of the heritage are detectorists. It reveals a particular mind-set amongst these Artful Dodgers: Go on the attack and sweep any deficiencies under the carpet. Well that bullshit won’t work here and certainly won’t for as long as I can tap the keys on my keyboard.
For a start, we have the ‘random number generator and AEC diviner’, Nigel Swift, giving hectares of space on his pisspoor blog over at the Heritage Journal posing the ersatz question, ‘So what IS responsible metal detecting?’ No doubt this incisive question causes enormous erectile functions amongst the dimmer of his male commentators’ along with the holier-than-thou ‘responsible detectorists,’ he’s got in tow. The question he should be asking is, ‘So what IS responsible archaeology?’
In one breath, this out-of-touch, detector-hating Grampy (one of Barford’s UK sock-puppets) berates detectorists for all manner of heritage crimes, whilst simultaneously ignoring the UK’s greatest heritage scandal of all time – one that’s going on right under his nose, and he can’t, or won’t, come to terms with it. You couldn’t write this stuff!
The millions of alleged heritage crimes ‘Grampy’ Swift attempts to lay at metal detecting’s door pales into insignificance by comparison to this latest archaeological outrage. But what of gobby Barford? You know the chap, the British fellow who claims to be an archaeologist who lives and works in Warsaw, Poland. Surely this scandal is right up his alley, innit? What’s his take on it all? “The problem, however, is one that affects museums throughout the British Isles,” he writes accusingly, but on what evidence he’s based that fact, he remains his usual coy self. Perhaps the Council for British Archaeology, always keen to be at the forefront when it comes to hammering the hobby, have something to say? Nope…f**k all! Could it be those who’ve caused this debacle are affiliated to the CBA? What one wonders, does the CBA and the Museums Association make of Barford’s all-embracing claim of UK museum inefficiency?
So it’s hardly surprising to my mind and others, that heritage matters are of such vital importance they MUST NOT be left in the hands of people who simply can’t cut the heritage mustard. If ever there was a case for archaeology as a whole being legislatively bound to report their activities to a body that can actually do the business, then PAS is precisely the organisation to do it.
Tax-payers hard-earned money has been squandered by the millions on ‘archaeology’ and which now ought to be diverted away from incompetent ‘archaeology ‘and ploughed into the PAS to ensure nothing like this scandal ever happens again to our heritage. What will the Minister responsible make of it? Well if there’s any guts in Government and considering the amount of piss-taking, insults, and criticisms levelled at Conservative Culture Ministers – let me remind you Minister…Nigel Swift, Editor, Heritage Action is in the vanguard; read his blog to get the full flavour, http://heritageaction.wordpress.com/ Show us Minister, what you’re made of and get stuck into archaeology, Big Time. Save us taxpayers even more money…PLEASE!
The last thing archaeology needs is more money – they’d only squander it on useless conventions, piss-ups, and ‘Lefty’ conferences designed to condemn you and your government.
It’s the PAS that needs more cash so as to manage that which archaeology is clearly incapable of doing; properly recording and classifying OUR heritage, which is far too important to be left in the hands of the current crop of nincompoops.
If you believe that public money ought to be diverted from ‘archaeology’ and into a scheme to reduce the hundreds of thousands of artefacts piling-up every day in unsuitable warehouses and storage facilities, then make you views known to the Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Maria Miller at:- Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 100 Parliament Street, London, SW1A 2BQ. Tel: 020 7211 6000. Or email at: – firstname.lastname@example.org marked ‘For the attention of the Rt Hon Maria Miller MP.’
Burke or Hare? The Sound of Silence.
Non-archaeologist digs up human remains – shock horror!
Archaeologist digs up human remains and puts them on show in a glass case for people to gawp at? ….Deafening silence all round, and especially from Warsaw Wally along with others of his particular ilk.
One man’s alleged body-snatcher (?) is another man’s student of prehistoric peoples and their cultures by analysis of their artefacts, inscriptions, and monuments (!) Jeez…give us a break!
“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters”… Harvey Mackay
I’ll see y’all in the bar!
March 28, 2014
A PAS FOR THE US?
Before deciding either way you need to understand precisely what is meant by a Portable Antiquities Scheme. In the UK, the PAS describes itself thus:-
“The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a DCMS [Department of Culture, Media, and Sport] funded project to encourage the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales. Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, many of these by metal-detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work.”
Judging from the responses to straw polls along with ad hoc comments from US hobbyists, the general consensus is that few, if any, valid reasons exist why such a scheme would not work in the US given there’s goodwill and determination on both sides: Which if harnessed correctly, could provide an historical record the like of which has never been seen previously in the US. The UK’s PAS is a truly impressive undertaking delivering a unique database upon which over four-hundred levels of academic research are currently being undertaken ranging from a Masters Degrees down to sixth-form A-Level archaeology studies.
Opponents of the PAS concept – predominantly in the minority – are incredibly within the heritage circus itself, or, camped out on the lunatic-fringe. Antagonists fear the PAS chiefly because it possesses the potential to expose ‘bad’ archaeology; which after gutting, exposes the entrails to intense public scrutiny. ‘Bad’ archaeology is problem archaeology itself must address; it has nothing to do with metal detecting. Critics of PAS are only too aware that sooner, rather than later, someone in the press corps, or even Congress, will land the sucker-punch question: What the hell have we been paying you guys for when all this stuff is coming in from amateurs?
So, a PAS for the US? Certainly, and why not? Even metal detecting’s arch-enemy who once dubbed its devotees as ‘in-breds,’ was moved to acknowledge that, “…archaeologists who for sixteen years have been trying to make it [the PAS] work and assess and present the results in the positive light that has earnt artefact hunting its current good reputation in the UK.” – Paul Barford, a translator living and working in Warsaw, Poland, commenting in this column on 2nd February, 2014.
Even his associate at Heritage Action (a volunteer internet ensemble) bandied about the words of archaeologist, Dr P Prentice – words of nuclear proportions:-
“Real archaeologists without an agenda have acknowledged for some time that amateur metal detectorists do little real damage to the archaeological record” – heritageaction quoting the good archaeologist on the Barford’s PACHI blog, Wednesday, 26 March 2014, by which time Barford had retracted earlier approbations and in an unsurprising volte-face, blurted out:-
“Artefact hunting is not considered anywhere else “a win-win for anyone who loves history”, it is called looting, and archaeologist Prentice perhaps should think more carefully about the broader significance of what he so glibly says in support of artefact hunters.”
A PAS-system quite rightly elevates the status of metal detecting hobbyists to such a degree that radical opponents such as those in the UK and Europe who’d have us all summarily executed, are incandescent with self-righteous anger. But their efforts to thwart are fragmentary; amateurish to the point of being puerile, and unable to withstand proper scrutiny. Nonetheless, expect large helpings of this displeasure plus the usual ad hominen abuse (of the kind they dole out to me) as the US/PAS gathers momentum near the Start Line. This kind of airy-fairy censure is no cause for concern…and is best ignored.
That said, there is apparently, a deal of initial support from American heritologists too, not least from Florida archaeologist, Lisa McIntyre (herself a target of ad hominen abuse from unchivalrous archaeological extremists), whose tacit approval is in the vanguard of the fledgling US/PAS movement. From a personal standpoint, she would be an ideal figurehead to move things along. Though I don’t always agree with her comments on various aspects, at least she is possessed of the common decency to discuss matters in an adult, insult-free manner, and radically, has a CV with traceable provenances.
The general consensus between hobbyists and the likes of Lisa McIntyre is that all finds really ought to be recorded along with valuable ancillary data. As with the UK’s system once finds are properly recorded on the PAS database, they are handed back to the finders, who can then keep, or sell them to the highest bidder. Items that are legally found, legally recorded, can be legally sold. Indeed, all finds, complete with their written provenances, will certainly reinforce private collectors and museums who acquire pieces with the assurance that such artefacts are coming into the market-places legally, as opposed to illicitly or clandestinely excavated.
An added bonus of a PAS-scheme provides protection for private collectors, and collections resulting from metal detecting activity, from radical critics on the fringe of sanity tempted to point fingers with unconfirmed accusations of theft or illegal activity.
Naturally enough, a PAS should also apply to all the thousands of items that go unrecorded from archaeological excavations so as to avoid the truly appalling state of affairs in Northern Ireland as a prime example. In the UK, archaeologists are not bound to record finds with the PAS with the depressing result that on the 25th March 2014, BBC News Northern Ireland, reported:-
“ Hundreds of thousands of archaeological items recovered from historic sites in Northern Ireland are lying unclassified in plastic bags and boxes. They are often being kept outside the jurisdiction because there is no proper facility to store them.
One estimate says up to 24 container loads of archaeological objects are being stored by private companies. The Institute of Archaeologists in Ireland (IAI), said it was “a very serious problem”.
It said no tangible progress had been made to find a solution.”
Curiously, while our history and heritage gathers dust, languishing unrecorded, nearly one million artefacts have been fully recorded and logged with the UK’s PAS database, predominantly by the matchless labours of Britain’s metal detectorists. Seeing as how this hobby contributes to the overall record, I’d like to see contributors getting a little more information in return with extra data accompanying each record such as the type and make of metal detector used, size of coil, and approximate depth.
Currently, the US is losing heritage data at an alarming rate; not because of clandestine or criminal trespass, but simply because the finds that are lovingly cared for in private collections remain uncoordinated. Authors and students wanting the deep-study of military movements in the Civil War say, would if they had any sense, try to make contact with the legion of expert relic hunters specialising in this era. Currently this web of experts is at best a loose patchwork, suggesting an improved system is required. But how? Where is the mechanism for this to happen?
Whilst some Civil War relic hunters are extremely well-educated, the lack of a university degree should not be mistaken for lack of expert knowledge! Nevertheless, these Civil War experts are scattered and various and for the serious students not easy to track down. I’m sure a US/PAS would be able to rectify the situation and bring these knowledgeable souls to the fore.
I am certainly not advocating legal compulsion, quite the opposite, since contributors to a voluntary scheme tend, in the main, to have greater integrity and respect with an undoubted willingness to share historical information. I’d bet a dime to a dollar that the appalling situation that exists with the UK’s inability to record artefacts from its own heritage uncovered by orthodox archaeological excavation, also exists to a greater or lesser extent in the US.
Perhaps campaigners of the US/PAS should seek-out the opinions of influential and internationally respected numismatists such as Washington lawyer, Peter Tompa, and Dave Welsh, et al, and bring them into the loop.
A PAS for the US…..you choose! No guts, no glory!
A couple of treasure hunters, Fred and Bill, are hunting a field close to a main road. Fred is just about dig out a gold coin when he sees a hearse driving slowly past. He stands up, removes his headphones and cap, closes his eyes, and bows his head in prayer.
His friend Bill exclaims: “Wow, Fred, that’s the most thoughtful and touching thing I have ever seen. You truly are a kind man.”
Fred replies thoughtfully: “Yeah, well we were married for 35 years.”
“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game”…….Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I’ll see y’all in the bar
March 19, 2014
FID ANNOUNCEMENT TO MEMBERS… March 2014
“As most of you are aware Colin Hanson passed away in late January. At the time we decided to look into offering an alternate 3rd party liability insurance so there was a choice of groups to go with. Out of politeness and etiquette we contacted Colin’s family, with various discussions over the past month we have taken over FID itself with the families blessing. At present the whole system is on a card file index so there is a lot of work to transfer Data onto a database, so please understand we have lots to do…please have patience with us. If you have outstanding payments for renewal etc., we will deal with them ASAP. You were informed by Elaine that you will be covered until the end of this year, which is still the case. This will give us enough time to sort things, change all the stationary with all the new details, etc..
For now we will adapt what we have.For this year you will not receive any bulletins, these will start again in 2015 if all goes to plan. We did not take over any finances from Colin and his family, all that is left in the account will be donated to cancer research as requested by Colin, so we are starting completely from scratch financing things ourselves.
We will be having a dedicated phone line installed the number is yet to be issued, you can get us on mobile number 07944 464822 or email email@example.com. This is so it separates it from our home life and Central Searchers. At Elaine’s request please do not contact her anymore regarding FID… all enquiries to us. For any future correspondence please contact us on CSFID 27, Webb Road, RAUNDS, Wellingborough Northants NN9 6H
Kind Regards Richard and Gill Evans.”
I wish Central Searchers the very best of luck in getting FID back on track.
WE ARE NOT ALONE….
Dr David Clarke (http://drdavidclarke.co.uk/secret-files/secret-files-4/) is a senior lecturer in journalism at Sheffield Hallam University where he specialises in teaching media law and investigation skills, writes on his absorbing blog:
“What is known today as the Rendlesham Forest incident has been described as “the world’s first officially observed, and officially confirmed, UFO landing” – Britain’s equivalent of Roswell. And as the witnesses were all US Air Force personnel, their accounts have naturally been regarded as being highly reliable and credible.”
So, there you have it…we have allegedly been visited by aliens. But over on one particular blog where the writer — one Paul Barford – who lays all the heritage ills at the door of detectorists writes about a mysterious hoard found at Rendlesham, Suffolk (complete with dodgy spelling and odd grammar):
“Fields on a Suffolk farm have yielded small but hugely significant finds which have led archaeologists to believe they have found a royal home and one of the most important settlements in Anglo-Saxon East Anglia. The investigations have been kept secret because of You-Know-Whos,”
The surveys began in 2009 after nighthawks – treasure hunters using metal detectors illegally – began looting the fields […] Mr Argent said the investigations took place around the diary [??.Ed] of the working farm, waiting until fields had been harvested, with a team of four authorised and responsible metal detector enthusiasts combing the fields in all weathers.
That’s what we need more of, authorised metal detectorists.
Jude Plouviez, lead archaeological officer at the county council for the project, […] “What has been lost from the field at Rendlesham is suggested by the finds that were recovered by the survey, such as a number of 6th Century copper-alloy items.”
Key Barfordian and archaeological words:
(a)‘believe they have found’ = usual suffixed by ‘important ceremonial.’ Actually means, have no idea.
(b)‘Is suggested by’ = absolute certainty
(c)‘What has been lost’ = What has been found
(d)‘hugely significant’ = slightly trivial
(e)‘took place around the diary’ = ‘took place around the…journal/personal organizer.’ Not to be confused with ‘dairy’, a room or building where milk and cream and sometimes other perishables are stored.
(f)‘You-Know-Whos’ = aliens?
Is it possible that Wally is covering-up the alleged nocturnal activities of his fellow beings on the planet where he lives in blaming extra-terrestrial visitations on the unknown, unproven, existence of nighthawks? Was architect, David Vincent, right all along about the ‘aliens’? That they had certain characteristics by which they could be detected, such as the absence of a pulse and the inability to bleed. Nearly all were emotionless and had “mutated” little fingers which could not move and were bent at an unnatural angle.
Is She Correct?
“Authoritarian political ideologies have a vested interest in promoting fear, a sense of the imminence of takeover by aliens and real diseases are useful material”…Susan Sontag
I’ll see y’all in the bar!
March 13, 2014
ME? NOT RESPONSIBLE?
I am advised that being ‘responsible’ means being nice and polite to Prof. Boor-ford, who holds the Warsaw Chair in Modern Disinformation Here goes:-Thanks Paul….(This from his blog):“The Warren Cup: A piece of mimetic craftsmanship around 1900?
“Brilliant phrase that, “mimetic craftsmanship” (metal detectorists: that means “fake”).”
I’m obliged to Paul for pointing it out. I know what mimetic means as do most detectorists I suspect, but you know what Paul’s like – he just loves a ‘larf’ with us ordinary folks! Aw, Bless him.
I don’t want to appear ‘picky’ but what do you call a man who…
- hides his identity;
- his occupation;
- his past;
- keeps schtum about his UNESCO (cash-in-hand?) odd-jobbery;
- and, who surrounds himself with the cloak of an ‘archaeologist’?
A Mimetic? Could well be, though judging from the rancid (Paul: that means putrid) content of his blog…emetic (Paul: that means causing a person or animal to vomit), might be more on the nail.
On the Subject of (Rancid) Blogs …
A Bum Steer?I can heartily recommend the above mimetic’s blog and the entry under the banner:-
Tuesday, 11 March 2014: Caveat Emptor: The Warren Cup, a piece of mimetic craftsmanship around 1900?
Here you’ll discover the so-called Warren Cup that depicts an ‘ancient’ homo-erotic scene on the side of this silver drinking vessel. Whether the cup is a forgery as is suggested, I know not, nor do I overly care, but I defer to Paul’s apparently far superior knowledge about homo-eroticism when he states, that, “Prof Giuliani observes that one of the sexual positions depicted is copied from an Arretine depiction of [explicit deleted] copulation, but the artist applied it anatomically incorrectly to [explicit deleted] copulation, thus (it is suggested) giving the forgery away. (This logic is surely only watertight if one assumes that an ancient artist depicting a homoerotic scene had actually practised [explicit deleted] him/herself.)”
Why ‘assume the logic’ Paul? It’s illogical. There’s no reason that I can see why the ‘ancient artist’ should have been a practicing gay. Then again, hypothesis (Paul: that means “supposition”) is your hallmark. For those interested further, check out his discredited Artefact Erosion Counter for details! All-in-all, I think he’s talking through the orifice he says the ‘ancient artist’ favoured – again!
GENESIS? WONDERFUL NEWS!
Taken from the Task Force Blog:-
TASK FORCE ATTENDS MEETING WITH THE ARCHITECT OF THE PORTABLE ANTIQUITIES SCHEME
On February 17, 2014, Minelab Americas hosted a conference in Chicago featuring Mr. Norman Palmer, one of the authors of the English “Portable Antiquities Scheme” (PAS) law as the speaker.
Those attending the conference were: Malissa Salzinger, Jeff Otero & Jin Peng of Minelab Americas; Stuart Auerbach & David Spencer from Kelly Co (Stuart Auerbach was also Alan Holcombe of White’s Electronics proxy at the meeting); Michael McComb of First Texas; Matthew Hallisey of Government Affairs, Connecticut; Mark Schuessler from the FMDAC; James Hurst of Garrett; J. Smith, Historical Archaeologist from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission; Jim Selburg of Outdoor Outfitters, and Allyson Cohen from the Task Force for Metal Detecting Rights Foundation.
The purpose of the conference was to introduce leaders from the U.S. Metal Detecting Community to the English “Portable Antiquities Scheme” law.
Mr. Palmer gave a slide presentation, during which time he discussed the metal detecting laws in England, and how they have helped provide for a more mutually respectful relationship between the detecting and archaeological communities in their country.
The English system is successful because detectorists and archaeologists have accepted the need for a system of government oversight, and the proper documentation of finds. The PAS law provides for trust, cooperation and mutual respect between the two groups.
The English government also realizes that financial rewards, based on fair market value, is the best incentive to foster an honest system where all parties involved benefit.
In order for something like the PAS system to move forward here in the U.S., it would also have to be enacted as a law, and it was noted that the Florida Treasure Coast could benefit greatly from this type of law.
Finding lawmakers who are interested in Metal Detecting or Treasure Hunting, and who are willing help by introducing pro Metal Detecting legislation, would be a good first step.
The Task Force would like to keep on top of this idea, and will work with Minelab and all the other attendees in promoting a system similar to the Portable Antiquities Scheme in the United States.
Here’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to move the hobby up a gear Stateside. I urge you all NOT to let this unique opportunity to slip through your fingers. It matter not one jot that ‘modern’ history stretches back to around 450-years especially in New England. History is history and should be recorded at every opportunity. Native American history dates back to time immemorial.
If you lose this opportunity, then the US hobby fully deserves what will surely follow. As in the UK, hobbyists are advancing knowledge as never before. Hundreds of archaeological jobs depend on a healthy PAS system and together, great strides are being made. Only those on the loony fringe will oppose this strategy.
Neither should US legislators turn their noses up at a PAS system. The first one who picks up the ball and runs with it will carve a niche in history.
Nah, being nice to Barford ain’t for me! Don’t seem right somehow….
“The history of free men is never really written by chance but by choice; their choice!”…..Dwight D. Eisenhower
I’ll see y’all in the bar!
March 9, 2014
HELPING THE SICK…GIVE GENEROUSLY
Apparently, those suffering with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) show certain characteristics which easily identify them, typically displaying some, if not all of the following traits:
- An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges
- Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships
- A lack of psychological awareness (see insight in psychology and psychiatry, egosyntonic)
- Difficulty with empathy
- Problems distinguishing the self from others (see narcissism and boundaries)
- Hypersensitivity to any insults or imagined insults
- Vulnerability to shame rather than guilt
- Haughty body language
- Flattery towards people who admire and affirm them (narcissistic supply)
- Detesting those who do not admire them (narcissistic abuse)
- Using other people without considering the cost of doing so
- Pretending to be more important than they really are
- Bragging (subtly but persistently) and exaggerating their achievements
- Claiming to be an “expert” at many things
- Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people
- Denial of remorse and gratitude
The so-called ‘seven deadly sins’ of narcissism are:
- Shamelessness: Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.
- Magical thinking: Narcissists see themselves as perfect, using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to dump shame onto others.
- Arrogance: A narcissist who is feeling deflated may re-inflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.
- Envy: A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person’s ability by using contempt to minimize the other person.
- Entitlement: Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.
- Exploitation: Can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.
- Bad boundaries: Narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist are treated as if they are part of the narcissist and are expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist there is no boundary between self and other.
Should you stub your toe against, let’s say a doctrinaire anti-metal detecting/collecting blog for instance, where the writer in his/her ravings meets any of the above symptoms (1 to 16, and 1 to 7), you’ll have hit the Mother Lode. Beware though, if you value your time; there’s no benefit or profit to be had in arguing/debating with an obviously unbalanced mind. It’s treatment and/or counseling that’s needed, not argument or provocation.
Meanwhile over on the banks of the Vistula…
Our old pal continues to delight with his pisspoor blog and takes incivility and pomposity to new heights in a reply to Charles Peters who had the temerity to question the great man:-
4 March 2014 01:20
Paul Barford said… @ Charles Peters
And your “subject matter” is ?You really are being very tiresome.
First of all, your entire history of posting comments over here (and elsewhere) in reality consists of various attempts at “gotcha” comments, rather than questions intended actually to elicit information, and whatever you say that goes for this series too. There is nothing in what you say that I can “share with and engage in a mutually interesting conversation”
Secondly, it is not, and has never been, my intention to use this blog as a means of having a “dialogue” with collectors. This is ABOUT them, not FOR them.
Thirdly I say again, take it to the FLO, it’s her job to answer queries like that.
Alternatively you could just look it up, the PAS audience survey says the PAS website is “excellent” at providing this sort of info, so why are you not using it?
Fourthly at the moment, I am trying to contact my friends in Ukraine and find out how they are, and you keep pestering me with your silly gotcha games and asking questions that a normally intelligent person could find the answers of themselves. So yes, you are being lazy and a timewaster.
Fifthly, yes I am both pompous, and verbose, you forgot arrogant and afew other adjectives. I can live with it. Nobody makes you read what I write.
As I say, go and pester the FLO with your questions, that’s what she’s there for.
Now you could be forgiven for thinking — particularly bearing in mind Barford’s evident enthusiasm for communist Poland where it seems the political climate was more to his liking back in 1986 – his “friends in Ukraine” who he’s so anxious to contact could well be Russian?
Our man describes himself as a: “British archaeologist living and working in Warsaw, Poland. Since the early 1990s (or even longer)……” bashfully avoiding precise dates presumably in deference to the current political tensions between Ukraine and Russia. To set the record straight, in 1986 he was sucking on the cultural teat of the former totalitarian Soviet Communist satellite state, Poland. Ironically, in today’s Ukraine, the Russian invaders have for their President the former Head of the KGB, Vladimir Putin. The KGB, the Committee for State Security, infiltrated spies to the Polish ‘Solidarity’ movement, and into the Catholic Church; and in ‘Operation X’ the KGB coordinated the declaration of martial law by General Jaruzelski’s Polish Communist Party; however, ‘Solidarity’ finally blunted the KGB’s iron grip over the Polish people in 1989 when the communists were booted out and democracy restored. Neither would it surprise me in the least if our man shared Putin’s view that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geo-political catastrophe in modern times, as opposed to its nativity.
But take note! Barford is the apple of the eye of the UK’s increasingly comical Council for British Archaeology (CBA) and will remain so for as long as he wages his odious, brainless, offensive claptrap, of a mission against metal detectorists. This is the man who with his equally fatuous chum, tries vainly to breathe life into the rotting corpse of the Artefact Erosion Counter (AEC); a nutty fact-free database cocktail, blended from conjecture, speculation and fantasy. He has a penchant (metaphorically, speaking) for jerking-off the more naïve in our ranks, the self-styled ‘responsible’ ones, as much as they seem to enjoy being on the receiving end of his metaphorical ’jerkery’ — much to everyone else’s relish and glee.
In what appears to be one of his rare acts of…Yo Dude, respect! he describes me as, “a dangerous nutcase…” which draws me to the conclusion – as a fly to a turd – that he’s like a crêpe chef who can’t flip ‘em over – yep, you’ve got it…. a useless tosser! Yo Dude, No Respect!
Here on Stout Standards, we’re proud to have destroyed the credibility of Barford and Swift’s AEC by exposing it for what it really is; hilarious, meaningless twaddle. Even Swift is emerging from the darkness and into the Light of Truth by admitting that ‘maybe’ the AEC really does, ‘lack credibility’ and that ‘maybe,’ it “should be viewed with contempt.”
“What is Archaeology if not knowledge?” asks Swift. If archaeology is based on the principles of the AEC he’s answered his own question….archaeology, Nigel and Paul, is fact-free guesswork posing as…well…er…um…bullshit!
“You can’t fix stupid”…Ron White
I’ll see y’all in the bar!
March 5, 2014
WHEN IN DOUBT…ASK!
I’ll lay even money that at some stage in your treasure hunting career you’ve secured permission to hunt on potentially ‘treasure rich’ land that’s been so mineralized it rendered your metal detector marginally less effective than a concrete parachute? You have? Well read on and try this for size. The problem I encountered recently was not inland, but coastal. Nevertheless, I’m sure it might well strike a chord. Indeed, the answer might open up for your immediate perusal, a heavily contaminated area; one that’s previously has been ‘no-go’ treasure tract. Alternatively, it could turn out to be a smack in the kisser! One never fully knows which way these things are going. So, what’s it all about then?
On a beach close to me, is a pebble reef of such ferrous intensity there’s hardly a machine able to cope with the conditions, save perhaps Garrett’s ground balancing ATX pi, though I’ve yet to use one hereabouts. The reef is a natural treasure vault. One machine I’d definitely ruled out was my ATGold. Its manual reads:-
“Because the AT Gold is optimized to find small gold pieces, saltwater use is not recommended for this detector [my italics]. Its ability to find small gold makes it equally reactive to the conductivity of saltwater. This detector’s ground balance adjustment is optimized to provide the greatest resolution in the normal ground range and is not designed to address saltwater. The ATGold (ATG) will, however, perform well for hunting coins and jewelry on dry sand beach areas.” That’s as unambiguous as it gets you might think.
Certainly the ATG’s efficacy in the dry sand areas of the beach is as the manual says, but take it closer to the saltwater and it screams in protest louder than an archaeo-blogger caught in a lie. The ATG is not a saltwater ‘beach machine’ in the accepted sense of its stable-mate, the ATPro.
The manufacturers, Garrett, inform us it’s: “Highly Recommended – Prospecting, Coin, Jewelry, Cache Hunting, Relic Hunting, Organized Hunts and Shallow Fresh Water Hunting,” […] and that its 18kHz frequency is specially selected…”for enhanced detection of small gold nuggets, jewelry, coins and relics!” The ATG is a ‘nugget hunter’ having carved for itself a reputation par excellence which for many is the benchmark by which other types are compared. It has a fine bias towards to all things gold — especially small gold — and not just nuggets; gold rings, gold jewelery, and gold coins (especially small ones). Inland, when fitted with the ‘standard’ coil from the ATPro, it morphs [in my view] into an eye-wateringly efficient relic-hunting tool.
Such is the contamination of the pebble reef; previous attempts to open up its secrets have rendered my ATpro (even with the Sniper coil) near-unusable with a constant background noise banging away in my eardrums making it impossible to pick out the good signals. My Sea Hunter II pi was not much better either; marginally worse even. The ATG was a ‘no-no’ too; it being an inland machine and goes berserk near saltwater. Thus it was back to the drawing board and a chat with Mr. Johnnie Walker (a fine Scot) to mull things over in a search for the solution.
In the event I sent a begging email to my old friend, Garrett’s globe-trotting in-house treasure hunter, Steve Moore with the details of the problem. His ten cents worth might well be worth far more and hold the key, which when dropped into the Inbox came like a smack in the mouth: “ATG may be the answer. The next best thing will be a PI machine that can ground balance to that mess.” Huh? Wassat? Beach? ATG? Huh?
Why was he contradicting the manual? Why would I take an ATG whose manufacturers claim “saltwater use is not recommended for this detector” for walkies to the very environment it’s claimed it can’t handle? Huh? Wassat? Beach? Huh?
In follow-up emails he went on to explain the ATG’s DISC 2 (the US coin) Mode could provide the key to unlocking the reef’s vault, but warned that gold detection might be reduced on small items. A quick bench-test proved him right on thin-section gold rings though heavier stuff targeted well. Steve Moore still had me baffled, though more likely I’d lost his plot; nevertheless, hope sprang eternal.
AT Gold set-up in Disc2
Down at the water’s edge, ATG in hand, it crossed my mind that I might be the victim of a cruel example of an American practical joke…nah, he wouldn’t do that to me…would he? After all, I mused, we’d quaffed heartily of the ‘Stingray’ Ale in Dorset’s best hostelry, the 1776 Square & Compass Inn, when he last visited God’s Country. I pressed on.
Steve Moore with certain rogues and vagabonds outside
a certain Dorset hostelry.
The tide was fast approaching High Water and the pebble reef almost covered, but I reckoned I’d got about 45-minutes over the reef. However, not wholly convinced DISC 2 might be a winner, especially with all those pre-set gaps in the Notch Discrimination Scale, and notwithstanding Steve’s email advice that it might miss some gold, I set up the ATG according to his advice:-
DISC 2, and GB’d (over the reef) to ‘90’ set the GB window to ‘6’ so as to spread the GB variance; dropped the SENS to ‘3’; Iron Discrim to Max; and Iron Audio, ‘off’. Magic! I was not disappointed and the coins, though not the gold ones I’d hoped for, but coins nevertheless, soon appeared before I was flooded-off. Then my digital camera’s batteries went belly-up, immediately followed by two solid-silver, heavily-blackened, coins dating back about 100-years. Steve Moore and the ATG had busted the reef! All Hail the Master!
Silver shilling and six pence
pieces after cleaning
Previously in Malamute Saloon, I wrote that sometimes you have to know when to break the rules of convention. Here was such a case. But before you gallop off to try anything similar, or, become over-enthused by whiskey-fuelled ‘Eureka! Moments’ go for a second opinion from the guys who know about these things.
The ‘ferrous’ pebble reef mentioned, is a rare-ish phenomenon in the UK, though I understand there are parts of the US where the ground conditions are almost equally prohibitive, and seem to recall my knowledgeable American colleagues Ty Brook and Bob Sickler mentioning somewhere, that parts of Georgia (?) meet this detector-busting criteria.
An email dropped in the right ear often works wonders in problem solving, not only with Garrett, but with other manufacturers too. I can only speak for my experiences with Garrett, though I’m told Whites are also up there with the Great and the Good when it comes to such things.
Most manufacturers will be happy to offer technical advice and even happier to receive success stories that may in some way lead to technical or design improvements. If in doubt…ask!
Happy treasure hunting!
Remember…..(Listen up, Wally and Harry)
The truest characters of ignorance are vanity, pride, and arrogance. [and write pisspoor blogs. Ed]….Samuel Butler