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BRITARCH  February 2012

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Subject:

Re: The perverse incentives forcing amateurs to dig up sites

From:

Michael Haseler <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Fri, 3 Feb 2012 20:52:47 +0000

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On 03/02/2012 19:48, Paul Boothroyd wrote:
> I really cannot just read this ongoing debate without now, I hope, contributing something.
>
> Michael, a question or two:
> Why are you so het-up about this?
> Exactly what has happened for you to get so upset.
> Tell us, just who are the bad guys in your story?
1. East Dunbartonshire council are a bunch of luddites when it comes to 
history -- always have been, always will be -- for many years they 
didn't even bother about a county archaeologist. They are so bad, that 
to get information out of them it takes and FOI request and even then I 
have to appeal because they don't respond ... and then finally when the 
information commission issues a judgement against them, they just deny 
they have the information ... so you can appreciate that the last people 
I want to involve is the council.

And I've still not forgiven the council for the great stushy they caused 
me when I took photos of illicit det.ctor digging on the Antonine wall! 
They treated me as the criminal and they never apologised even when the 
police finally took me seriously and found the person in the act!

2. Then we have the local community council who haven't liked me since I 
set up a website. (Mostly because I couldn't find any way to contact them!)

3. Then we have the law in Scotland on archaeology which is a complete 
arse. Honestly it is cringingly bad. We effectively have no law of 
treasure trove, anything we do find is deemed to be the property of the 
ENGLISH queen with the result that even those like me who are 
sympathetic to handing in finds, baulk at the thought of doing so.

Worse, the law is just shoddy and ill thought out. E.g. there is a clear 
contradiction in the law in that the Civic Scotland Act 1982 requires 
finds to be reported to the police, so when the treasure trove unit say 
finds have to reported to them they are just contradicting the law as it 
is written. In other words, the law just smacks of people who couldn't 
really care.

4. Then we have the treasure trove unit in Scotland is as far as I can 
see a "jobs worth" set up. I wasted a whole day on fruitless 
correspondence with someone who just pedantically, and incorrectly & 
unnecessarily referred to the law on a day which was just ideal for 
photographing the site (remember 2011 was the wettest year on record, so 
such days have been few and far between). As I said above, they don't 
exactly encourage anyone to hand in finds, let alone welcome the 
contribution from amateurs. It was as if they were doing me a favour 
talking to me and not the other way around  ... e.g. They have the most 
atrocious website ... it is full of spelling mistakes.

5. And ... given the amount of work involved, the complexity of the 
site, the huge difficulty of tracking down original source material, the 
immense hurdles understanding the site ... I'm seriously doubt I can do 
it justice ... and well the site isn't anything without my work.

In short, if the run in with the treasure trove unit is what I'm should 
expect if I continue work, if I'm going to be treated like dirt just 
because I'm an amateur, I don't see why I should waste my time further  
.... perhaps I'm really just looking for excuses to stop wasting any 
more time on it!!

Mike
>
> It is my experience that local HER people are only too pleased to have sites recorded and passed onto them for inclusion on the database, and are only too willing to credit the 'finder/discoverer'. The record you pass on can be as brief or as detailed as you like, in most cases where a previously unknown site is reported the HER and/or local Archaeology Advisory service may suggest that a member of their team meets up with you to visit the site to assess it.
> However I have never, ever, heard of a site being poached for investigation by the 'professionals' from the 'amateur' discoverer. I an sure that most HER/Advisory teams are much too busy looking at sites threatened by development to want to take on extra work.
>
> Incidentally I personally don't like the amateur and professional labels when attached to archaeology. By definition an amateur does it for love and interest while a professional does it for money.
> But many amateurs are very, very professional - more so than some who are paid............and most professionals do archaeology because they love it - despite the pay!
>

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