Joanne Duijns writes on behalf of BAJR:
> David Connolly has been kind enough to write a observation report.
A self-gratulatory text with a facile, overdone ‘paper tiger’ introduction
and facile and cloying conclusion.
It merely illustrates how its author (one of the most vociferous supporters
of artefact hunting and collecting in British archaeology today) understands
the issues raised recently about artefact hunting, large "metal detecting
rallies" at sensitive sites, the role of the PAS and this rally in
particular. I think he has somehow totally missed the point.
The very idea of a "metal detecting day" (actually three) at Thornborough is
one that we should be questioning. The site was declared a landscape of
national importance, and yet the landowner was selling off to collectors
access to its archaeological finds like so many pick your-own strawberries.
The area he made “available” goes right up to the edge of the scheduled area
("oh yes, we will be detecting to within ten metres of the henges!" you
could hear if you phoned the organizers a week before the event). In fact
David’s map shows clearly that of the four areas he saw detected, two ran up
to the edge of the scheduled area for a substantial portion of their
boundaries. Many responsible detectorists rightly stayed away. And yet it
went ahead, with 300 people turning up to take away their own little "piece
of history" from this landscape for their collections and sale.
There are a number of questions a truly unbiased report would raise about
such an event and try to discuss. We see none of them here. We are instead
offered a muddled sermon about "respect" and being nice to one another with
some self-gratulatory and autobiographical details thrown in.
Most of the ‘factual’ content of the report is based on what detectorists
told its author, which on the whole consists of the same stuff as we have
all heard from detectorists time and time again. One “Derek” is specifically
quoted, he was the one who said artefact hunters don’t sell their finds.
Well, Nigel has shown spectacularly how wrong this piece of whitewash is.
When David Connolly arrived at the site he saw "stalls selling coins, some
artefacts"… and from the speed at which it appeared on eBay, it seems a fair
assumption that this dealer (for there seems little doubt from
"romanremains'" other eBay offerings
http://search.ebay.co.uk/_W0QQsassZromanremains this is a dealer)* was
present at the Thornborough Rally ready to snap up the finds as they came
out of the ground. Its a pity that in the interests of objectivity that
David Connolly did not report the results of his conversations with him. I
am sure he has a lot of interesting stories to tell of "detecting practice".
[Is this the guy? [log in to unmask] a metal detectorist from
Shadforth, Co. Durham (from http://www.ukdetectornet.co.uk/index.php?id=94
and http://www.ncmd.co.uk/individual.htm) the 'nick' and address tally with
the eBay seller's....]
David Connolly claims to have learnt and presented to us “the truth”, but it
is clear he has been listening only to one side. For example [on page 8], he
concludes that the “PAS has to learn”.. and then cites the case of an
artefact hunting rally where the FLO was unable to attend. Perhaps before
including this in his “review of […] Portable Antiquities Scheme methods
[sic]”, he should have checked the circumstances surrounding this event and
not just listen to the detectorists’ side. I have, and they do not support
the conclusion that David places on it – rather the detectorists need to
“learn” that the FLO is not there just to service their hobby at their beck
and call to provide finds identifications for their eBay sales pitch at
* Look at the awful Roman brooches, stripped, polished, "silvered" and made
suitable for wearing. Who wears these things? Do they have a real fur stole