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Subject:

Re: more on private collecting by archaeologists

From:

Kelvin Wilson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 17 Jul 2003 12:28:23 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

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It's not my discussion to mingle in- although here in Holland, having
recently become the editor of a small archaeological magazine, I am
now for the first time ever running into detectorists- but I just
want to support Paul Barford on what I think was a very intelligent
reply. He answered the "what have you got? question as complete as
possible and  I feel is fully justified in returning the question.
So, Robert R, enlighten you colleagues, please.

I shall use some of Paul's arguments (especially that on the
endangered wildlife) to try to convince some of my new associates to
get out there and either report (which most of them tiredly do, I
certainly will say) or at least publish in the available media their
collections.

One of them, as yet still a student of archaeology, is contemplating
starting a 'small metals identification and registration' business.
I've been copying loads of material for him on the current English
Portable Antiquities Scheme and consequent discussions in Dutch
archaeological media and have been telling him that his is a good
plan, a gap in the market perhaps, something that certainly needs
seeing to...
Now, does anyone have any further suggestions (or documents that be
read online) how to inspire him further - if there is indeed any
reason to  ;-)   -to do what should be done?






And for what it's worth, some loose shots from the continent:

When I started off as an archaeological illustrator some ten, eleven
years ago, I smilingly asked the first archaeologist I visited at his
house "So, where's ya collection, then?". His straight and totally
right answer was that he did not have one, as this was disapproved of
amongst professionals.
Then about a year ago I visited for the first time the house of a
detectorist. A good man, I'll say, with warm contacts with one very
good archaeologist. Now, his showcases were p-i-l-i-n-g out with
stuff that made my eyes pop. I tried buying a decorated medieval
knifehandle from him- in an attempt to get it away from those
jampacked shelves and, even tough only modestly, publish it somehow-
but he said he never sold stuff. Morally right, perhaps, but that way
it still remains out of the public eye, where in my beliefs it
belongs.
Through him I also met another detectorist... he had a perfectly
formed medieval child's shoe in his even bigger showcase, but the guy
had never even heard of the State Service of Archaeology, where all
Dutch finds ought to be reported. Truly sad.
Another detectorist has given me some of the 'surplus' from his
collection: some broken tin soldiers, a few Napoleonic buttons, a
broken coin(?) with a pope on it and the very large key to what was
likely a pastor's house.... hey, it's nice to feel and hold the real
stuff, but really, I hate having it in my house! It seems out of
place somehow, for somewhere there is a story behind each piece that
would better suit some local museum or local historian. I've invited
to tell him what every item is and where it comes from, but then
what? What do I do with the stuff??
And then as a final note, I have decided to start a series in
aforementioned magazine that deals with its members' private
collections and to accompany each with a small educational corner on
what to do... I certainly do not object to the 'good detectorist's'
attempt at rescue archaeology, but what happens to their collections
afterwards? Have the children dust them off once and a while if it
goes well with their other furniture?

...Sorry for the blurb, but this subject has been very much on my
mind these last days and I just needed to get it off my chest. ;-)




Kelvin Wilson



--


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
  Kelvin Wilson         archaeological illustrator (MAAIS)

                            Ringdijk 15
                            2981 EV Ridderkerk
                            The Netherlands

                            e-mail [log in to unmask]
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