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
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.
GPS, Map reading and positional recording
Reporting and Recording
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
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
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
- 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
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
a) with the Young Archaeologists Club (whatever you do. don't drop
b) with local detectorists hunting for battlefields (it's around here
c) with a local history group looking for a lost village. (now that was
d) when I am in another country (ahhh I think the going rate is two
So, a mix of professionalism and community looks the best to me. What do
you think? .
Glad to be part of this
ps . I am off until the 10th August . so excuse my silence.