I am grateful to Paul Barford for prompting me to listen to Dr Alice Roberts' analysis of the impact of metal-detecting in Britain (BBC Radio 4, broadcast Wed 16 Feb, Thurs 17 Feb 2011). The programme is available from the BBC website.
Three major finds are discussed: the Frome Hoard, the Staffordshire Hoard, and the Crosby Garrett Helmet. There is consideration of the impact of metal-detectors allowing the searching of deeper levels, as well as the "Nighthawking Report". There was an important distinction made between "treasure" and other archaeological material.
Roger Bland of the Portable Antiquities Scheme was interviewed and he noted the finite nature of the archaeological resource. He drew attention to the number of finds being recorded, but nothing was said about the apparent under-reporting among some sectors of the metal-detecting community.
The programme finished with a consideration with the situation in Ireland that takes the protection of the archaeological record far more seriously than in the UK. It was interesting to hear that the Irish authorities were actively on the look out for material turning up on the New York market.
The programme comes in the wake of the Forum Piece on the Portable Antiquities Scheme that was published by the Institute of Archaeology in London.