Skip to main content

Responsible metal-detecting: a revised code of practice

© David Gill
The annual heritage day at the RSA earlier this month provided an opportunity to discuss the new Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales (2017) on an informal basis.

The endorsements of the revised code are notable by the absence of certain organisations:
  • Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum of Wales / PAS Cymru, 
  • Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers, 
  • British Museum / Portable Antiquities Scheme, 
  • Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, 
  • Council for British Archaeology, 
  • Country Land & Business Association, 
  • Institute for Archaeology (University College London), 
  • Historic England, 
  • National Farmers Union, 
  • Royal Commission on the Historical & Ancient Monuments of Wales, 
  • Society of Museum Archaeologists.
The endorsement by UCL's Institute of Archaeology is interesting given the forum piece on metal-detecting that appeared in the Papers of the Institute of Archaeology (and that is largely uncited by members of PAS although is noted by archaeologists working in Spain).

We are reminded that "being responsible" means:
Working on ground that has already been disturbed (such as ploughed land or that which has formerly been ploughed), and only within the depth of ploughing. If detecting takes place on pasture, be careful to ensure that no damage is done to the archaeological value of the land, including earthworks. Avoid damaging stratified archaeological deposits (that is to say, finds that seem to be in the place where they were deposited in antiquity) and minimise any ground disturbance through the use of suitable tools and by reinstating any ground and turf as neatly as possible.
This is a timely reminder as we approach the third anniversary of the removal of the "Lenborough Hoard". Members of PAS could, perhaps, address the five points highlighted by the Lenborough case.


Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The scale of the returns to Italy

I have been busy working on an overview, "Returning Archaeological Objects to Italy". The scale of the returns to Italy from North American collections and galleries is staggering: in excess of 350 objects. This is clearly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the material that has surfaced on the market without a history that can be traced back to the period before 1970. 

I will provide more information in due course, but the researcher is a reminder that we need to take due diligence seriously when it comes to making acquisitions.

Stele returns to Greece

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has announced (Saturday 8 September 2018) that a stele that had been due to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London in June 2017 has been returned to Greece (Friday 7 September 2018). The identification had been made by Cambridge-based forensic archaeologist Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.

It appeared that the stele had been supplied with a falsified history as its presence with Becchina until 1990 contradicted the published sale catalogue entry. It then moved into the hands of George Ortiz.

A year ago it was suggested that Sotheby's should contact the Greek authorities. Those negotiations appear to have concluded successfully.

The 4th century BC stele fragment, with the personal name, Hestiaios, will be displayed in the Epigraphic Museum in Athens. It appears to have come from a cemetery in Attica.



"Beating sites to death"

Policy decisions for protecting archaeological sites need to be informed by carefully argued positions based on data. Dr Sam Hardy has produced an important study, “Metal detecting for cultural objects until ‘there is nothing left’: The potential and limits of digital data, netnographic data and market data for analysis”. Arts 7, 3 (2018) [online]. This builds on Hardy's earlier research.

Readers should note Hardy's conclusion about his findings: "they corroborate the detecting community’s own perception that they are ‘beat[ing these sites] to death’".

Pieterjan Deckers, Andres Dobat, Natasha Ferguson, Stijn Heeren, Michael Lewis, and Suzie Thomas may wish to reflect on whether or not their own position is endangering the finite archaeological record. 

Abstract
This methodological study assesses the potential for automatically generated data, netnographic data and market data on metal-detecting to advance cultural property criminology. The method comprises the analysi…