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Subject:

Way forward for detecting and archaeology

From:

"BAJRWebsite.ORG" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Sat, 30 Jul 2005 23:24:33 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Basic Concept. - also available on the PAS and UKDN...   go for it - v long



Metal Detecting is a useful and valid form of artefact recovery and field 
survey and detectorists interest range from the pure hobbiest to those 
interested in further research, training and collaboration.  All of these 
views are valid and should be respected.



Several policy papers have been created and are in use at present, with few 
ever bothering to ask opinions of detectorists themselves, or more 
importantly, understand the value and potential that detecting has to offer. 
This confrontational attitude between 'Heritage' agencies, including 
archaeologists, has created an atmosphere of mistrust which in recent months 
has begun to lessen, in part due to the Portable Antiquities Scheme and a 
number of detectorists and archaeologists willing to listen to each other 
rather than shout and/or make unreasonable demands or ill informed guidance 
documents.



Over the past 3 months, a number of suggestions and ideas have been put 
forward and this simplified proposal takes this one step forward to provide 
a workable solution in the broadest sense.  The details must be properly 
understood and discussed prior to creating a full proposal document and 
presenting it for comment to the main bodies (EH, IFA, CBA, HS, CADW, DEFRA 
etc) who will have to agree (at least in principal) before this can be moved 
forward.  It will always find detractors, but if a majority agreement can be 
achieved then the next step is implementation.



1)   An online/regional course is created for both archaeologists to learn 
about detecting survey and detectorists to learn about archaeological 
recovery and feature recognition.  Both can also learn about basic onsite 
conservation and protection of artefacts.  The regional approach would be 
best, with applied and practical courses available at centres with catchment 
areas of say 30 miles radius.  The course length should be seen as lasting 
either a full 5 days or takes place in an open learning style 5-8 week 
evening class.   Within archaeology, this qualification could be a CPD 
(Continual Professional Development), otherwise a diploma in advanced 
detecting survey could be awarded.    An educational institution would have 
to be approached to provide backing to this, and provide recognition to the 
qualification.  Following on from another idea, recently mooted, 
archaeo-detecting rallies that combine archaeologists and detectorists in 
teams to recover and record over previously unsurveyed areas would be a good 
testing ground for the new skills.



Suggested course modules.

            Detecting - basics, theory and uses.

            Recognising stratigraphy

            GPS, Map reading and positional recording

            Artefact conservation

            Reporting and Recording

            Field Survey

            Researching areas of potential

            Using aerial photographs and old maps

            Designing and running local projects (from funding to finish)





2) Land release

In very broad terms there are 3 main types of detectorists (excuse the 
terminology!)

1.      Pure hobbiest

2.      Recording Detectorist

3.      Archaeological Detectorist

The problem has been in the past that the policy regarding detecting has 
been based on amalgamating all shades into one amorphous grey.  Therefore 
the often used phrase of tarring with the same brush springs to mind.  In 
the extreme, all detectorists were (and by some, still are) seen as 
Nighthawks or thieves, which is like suggesting that all archaeologists are 
tomb robbers.



Each shade must be seen for what it is, and the views of each group 
appreciated.  It is not a divisive approach, but more a recognition that 
within the hobby of detecting people have different aspirations.   In the 
same way that some archaeologists just want to be weekend diggers, others 
want to work in the UK out in the field; others still want to be academic 
professors.  Bearing this in mind, the approach has to reflect the diversity 
and appreciate the opportunities now available.



The Hobby detectorists who does not want to record (or collects only for 
their own collection) for whatever reason, will continue as they are now. 
It is their choice and no amount of coercion, bribes or threats will change 
that.

 -   Proposal - NO CHANGE



The recording detectorist provides details of finds to the PAS with 8 figure 
grid references,  in addition, they may collect finds from the topsoil and 
may even locate new sites - in which they are involved with the recording. 
Finds can even be collated and information shared to view patterns etc. 
Finds can also made available to schools and museums for education.

- Proposal -   by the voluntary act of agreeing to record (not the act of 
recording) the opportunity to detect on land presently unavailable should be 
offered.  This will not only present the prospect of recovering topsoil 
finds that would presently be lost (either through plough damage, chemical 
corrosion etc) but allow for previously unrecorded sites to be located and 
protected/evaluated to prevent further damage.  A farmer or landowner would 
still have to be asked for permission, but with the awareness that the 
detectorist was committed to the recording of significant finds.   The form 
of this commitment must be agreed - it could be anything from a PAS card 
that shows the detectorist has contact with PAS and the local FLO and agrees 
to reporting finds; within the present conditions (or more if they want!) 
I would love to see a distribution of tanged arrowheads for example!!



The professional detectorist would have shown an interest in using detecting 
as a tool for further research by taking the detecting survey course along 
with archaeologists - proving to both themselves and others that they are 
more than capable to carry out detecting and field survey to a level 
equivalent to an archaeological recording exercise.   The level of survey 
that they can achieve would be more than adequate to ensure the artefacts 
recovered from sites (even Scheduled sites - given a properly considered 
project.. which would be no different to the requirements set for 
archaeological project - such as the Traprain Environ Surveys excavation of 
scheduled sites on farmland to look at plough damage).  With access to 
archaeological sites would also come responsibility and more than likely 
investigations would be in partnership with other groups though there would 
be nothing to stop individual work.



All groups would be welcome on archaeological sites however, and moves are 
heading in the direction of development sites being made available to 
detector groups to survey topsoil for artefacts to inform the evaluation.



In all cases where archaeological work is carried out, all finds will be 
declared and as with archaeologists, no payment is made, but due recognition 
will be given.  The theme of this preliminary document is to test further 
the attitude and thoughts for a more considered and robust proposal.  It is 
also to show that only through an attitude change that we can work together 
or as individuals but with no them and us attitude.



To those that do not want to record, there is no change from the present, 
for those that do, there is increased opportunity, for those (and that 
includes archaeologists) who want to learn more.  there is another 
opportunity.



I strongly believe that archaeology does not belong to archaeologists - it 
belongs to us.  the Common Heritage or Shared Heritage approach is one  way 
that archaeology will survive and detecting is respected.



No one really loses here and the net gain is in a few years time I might 
start to find archaeology fun again.  at the moment the only time I enjoy 
archaeology is

a)      with the Young Archaeologists Club (whatever you do. don't drop 
it..)

b)      with local detectorists hunting for battlefields (it's around here 
somewhere)

c)      with a local history group looking for a lost village. (now that was 
good!)

d)      when I am in another country (ahhh  I think the going rate is two 
goats!)



So, a mix of professionalism and community looks the best to me.  What do 
you think? .



Glad to be part of this

David



ps .  I am off until the 10th August  .   so excuse my silence.

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