As someone who actively supports the PAS in its current form I thought I'd
share the experience of a front line user it I may, after all better to hear
some positive good news.
Since starting to record with the PAS in 2003 I have been able to see the
vast majority of its progress forward particularly in its outreach to the
general public of which metal detectorist are but a part.
I now have over 1000 records recording the details or nearly 1500 finds
which initially were recorded to 6 figure NGRs, but since 2005 to 10 figure
NGRs, that is to within 1-3metres of the finds spot due to the offsetting of
hand held GPS devices. Before I met my local FLO I have to admit to being
ignorant to the value of a find-spot, but that changed and I changed my ways
to become responsible.
In the time since 2003 I have both promoted the PAS and finds recording on a
website I help run called UKDetectorNet ([log in to unmask]). I have
always believed it's far better to encourage people to change their ways
through example than to point wagging fingers with the tut tut attitude. Yes
of course there are those you will never win, but I still believe we are
changing and the majority of people who do detect will/are coming around to
a recording ethos.
As to whether the PAS are fulfilling their mandate, then I have to again say
from my personal experience they are. I have been with my FLO and helped
record hundreds of finds at rallies, I have sat with him in museums in and
around the Bristol area on a Saturday recording finds that members of the
public brought in (not just detectorist), I have been a speaker at
historical groups with him (not a detectorist in sight), I have lectured
with him and another FLO (including Roger Bland) at two universities (not a
detectorist in sight), I have helped him with school lessons at my recent
University dig at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, (not a detectorist in
sight) and I'm going to be with him during Archaeology week at an outreach
to members of the public. So to say that the PAS is so detectorist
orientated is just not true. The PAS has and is fulfilling its remit and
doing it very well from what I can see and I have a very god idea of what's
going on at the grass roots end of things.
As for me, the effect that the PAS has had on me is immense and life
changing. I record all my finds, sites and have discovered and recorded many
new sites which are or will end up on the SMR/HER. I am in the middle of a
degree course at Bristol University, with the total support and a reference
given by my FLO. I now donate finds to the City Museum on a regular basis
(particularly Early Medieval) quadrupling their collection. I offer my time
in any way that will help in outreaching the general public, detectorist
included. Now this can be multiplied time and time again, how? Because the
PAS is working and it is fulfilling its remit to people like me.
We do have a finite resource and yes we do need to get it recorded, but this
was always going to be a process that took some time, from the coal face of
the hobby I can certainly say its is working and will continue to work
provided the Government can get past the briefing of some that in their own
right are going to create a monster. I don't know if many of you remember
the days before the PAS, well I do and it was not good. Unrestricted
detecting without a thought for recording (except an enlightened group
working through people like the late Tony Gregory). Let me explain what will
happen if the PAS is pushed into the Renaissance Hubs (who don't even cover
parts of the country such as Dorset and Somerset). First of all people will
move because they have mortgages to pay, but as soon as they are they will
start to look for new jobs elsewhere. When this happens we will see a skills
brain drain, lets alone the fact that detectorist will not travel to museums
who may be 30-40mile or so away. Then when we lose those skills we'll lose
what's left of the PAS. Now were all not silly here, it is blatantly obvious
that an unrestricted hobby will not be allowed to rise again from the demise
of the PAS. So the call will go up for a ban on detecting,citing the
Valletta Convention and getting the UK to fulfill its duty. There most
certainly won't be a middle ground of a licensing system as that just could
not be policed sop a ban it will be. All that will create is an army of
people willing to break the law and continue on their merry way where they
cannot be seen and with the blessing of landowners who will just stick two
fingers up to any law about who goes on their land.
So, the ultimate success of the PAS is far better than the ultimate failure
to have finds recorded by thousands of disenchanted people who will continue
in the pursuit of their hobby anyway!
----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Barford" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 12:42 PM
Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Sustainable archaeology - was archaeology v.
> Steve Burch writes:
>> Paul it is no secret that you have been the single biggest critic of the
>> PAS since day one <
> I do not see why I would have to keep it a "secret". The PAS is a public
> organization, spending public money and claims to be doing outreach for
> archaeology with it. No reason then why archaeologists and others cannot
> discuss that here or elsewhere, is there? And if we think they are doing
> it wrong, why can we not be frank and say so and why?
> I personally think it is doing it utterly wrong, I have good reasons
> (which I give) for thinking so; if that bothers them or anyone else, they
> can answer the criticisms.
>> I can only suspect that any archaeological organisation that caters to
>> the public adding to the archaeological record is abhorrent to your
>> 'professional' sensibilities.<
> No, I think if an organization is doing archaeological outreach, it should
> be primarily doing ARCHAEOLOGICAL outreach.
> Somewhere along the line some wires have got crossed and expanding the
> database (which is not the same as "adding to the archaeological record")
> has instead become the prime aim of the PAS which as I said is constantly
> leading it (as an ARCHAEOLOGICAL outreach organization) into some very
> ambiguous situations.
> > The truth of the matter is that the end game is for the
>> PAS to be absorbed into local museums,<
> I believe that is no bad thing. The Portable Antiquities Scheme is for the
> whole public, like the museums are. It makes economic and methodological
> sense to amalgamate the two systems. This was recognised back in 2002,
> nobody raised a fuss then. After all, the museums are where the public
> were going with things they had found before 1996, many finds coming to
> the PAS still come to it through the FLOs being museum based and people
> bringing finds to the museums identification services and being referred
> to the FLOs. Putting the facility (back into) museums may well bring it
> back to meeting the needs of the general public while in past years it has
> been too focussed on "getting finds for the database from tekkies" at the
> cost of other considerations.
> The PAS had a specific function (which when you look through the
> smokescreens it seems it has not really achieved), it had ten years and
> eight million quid to do it, maybe its time to see whether there is not a
> better way to build on what it did and achieve a more sustainable and
> holistic system. Why should that be at all alarming to the 54 million
> people who pay for it and are not metal detectorists or portable antiquity
>> How do you envisage the PAS being dismantled into local museums with no
>> central control placing it in a better position to outreach to the
> I think it will be better placed to outreach to the wider public linked
> with rather than separate from the outreach already being done by museums
> and other bodies, why duplicate the effort?
> We will have to agree to differ over how useful that "central office" has
> been, they are after all directly responsible for the current major
> shortcomings of the Scheme.
> For example - like the topic we were discussing, helping the public to
> understand what archaeology is and where it differs from artefact
> collecting. As I said, you'll find better answers to that on the Time Team
> webpage than the PAS one. Does that not strike you as being a little
> incongruous after eight million pouinds and ten years of outreach? What
> actually have they done with all that time, money and resources to change
> PUBLIC ATTITUDES? (note I said public and not "metal detectorists" - and
> the degree to which attitudes have in fact changed there is debatable).
>> going from a time when the recording of finds was an exception rather
>> than the rule of the hobby,<
> This is rubbish actually. If you were to cut out PAS visits to MD clubs
> and participation in rallies, you would find that the number of artefact
> hunters coming forward is in fact no greater than those in the days before
> PAS (have a look at the data in the 1995 CBA/EH report). The sole reason
> for the PAS "success" is that they get tekkies to show things at club
> meetings and rallies. That is not actually "changing attitudes". It's a
> You will note that NEVER has the PAS actually released any figures on
> this. We really do need to look more closely at current and past reporting
> patterns before drawing conclusions where to go in future. So isn't it a
> bit odd that after ten years of liaison, we actually do not have any
> collated data whatsoever on this? So what is this review going to work
>> a successful body which has and is the envy of many countries across the
>> globe, <
> No, its the envy of portable antiquity collectors mostly in the US. But
> then take a GOOD look at the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild who wrote to
> support the PAS and see what their agenda is... Very dodgy bedfellows
> indeed for an archaeological outreach organization .....
> Paul Barford