Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pond Drying UP?

Metal Detector man Gary Brun continues the discussion of the Minelab Awesome-hole-puncher metal detector for "responcible" (sic) metal detecting in depth. Now he's decided to start on me:
Paul cares about the Heritage but goes about banging his drum the wrong way. In fact he does himself and his writing partner Nigel Swift from Heritage Action no favours at all (there long awaited book still hasn't been released after all the who-ha... watch out.. we'll expose etc.) and his campaign against the PAS is falling on deaf ears.
The reasons why the book is not out yet need not concern Mr Brun, but he can be assured that the arguments offered in it are all the stronger for the delay and the rewriting. Nothing I have ever written has been subjected to such rigorous editing and legal advice. It is not a book the British artefact hunters and their supporters or indeed collectors in general should be in a hurry to see in the bookshops. Unless of course they are impatient to engage in dialogue with the issues it raises.

As for deaf ears about the PAS let him look out for a forthcoming forum piece by David Gill in the papers of the Institute of Archaeology and the ensuing discussion.

The issues which have been raised about the PAS - not just by me - cannot go on being ignored forever and we keep unquestioningly throwing money at an ineffective solution to protecting the archaeological record. My great regret is that the Crosby Garrett fiasco came too late for the book, never mind, perhaps if lots of Minelab owners buy the book I'll get a chance to do a second edition.

Mr Brun continues:
Mr Barford trawls the Internet to find whenever he can information about metal detectorists to add to his poison darts to our hobby and to the PAS system. He is an expert at dissecting information and using it towards his own aims. I myself have stopped responding to the guy for a long time now and just sit back and watch his pond dry up. In fact so do many in the archaeological profession too.
Yes there are many jobsworths in the British archaeological profession who pick and choose what they like to read about the PAS too, and turn their backs to the uncomfortable issues, many who actually believe in a "partnership" with the metal detectorists who go around with the kind of tools I was discussing. I think they are wrong, and am willing to say why (justified from the point of view of the preservation of the archaeological record and public perceptions of archaeology)... sadly very few of them have the guts or gumption to say to my face what (apparently) they will say to their gor-blimey metal detectorist fans. If that is the archaeological "pond", then let it dry up, there are no depths there to gaze into.
We at promote responsible detecting, recording of finds and abiding by the laws of the land. Mr Barford can make as many assumptions as he wishes... but we know what we are doing and what we stand for. In fact our UKDFD site hit another milestone yesterday with over 25,000 validated items on our database,add to that the number of academics around the world who are using our data in their thesis and reports is fantastic. [...] Keep recording your finds guys and dont worry about a few middle aged cronies with personal axes to grind.
Wait a second "OUR" UKDFD site? Ours as in Minelab's? What an odd thing to say. Anyone who has followed the debate about the beginning of this private initiative (started off with twelve, down to five volunteers staffing it) will find this laughable. OK, so question, does Minelab endorse the "Code of Practice for responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales" or do they not? The important thing is that this sees reporting finds to the Portable Antiquities Scheme as a fundamental indicator of responsible artefact hunting. It does not consider the UKDFD a proper record fulfilling the same conditions as the PAS. So Minelab, you are represented by a guy who promotes an "alternative responsibility", do you endorse that, or do you endorse the official code of practice agreed with eleven bodies in the UK? Which side is metal detector producer Minelab on?

Also of course the problem is not JUST whether something is merely law abiding or not, waht we want is law-abiding and ethical. There is more to ethics than showing and telling your latest goodies on the UKDFD web- showcase. Like the issue of extracting archaeological artefacts from archaeological sites on permanent pasture. I do not see the Minelab owners forum "promoting" responsible detecting by telling that bloke who wrote about it that he should be keeping off such sites. Just what Gary Brun is promoting on that forum and his many appearances on others is all too clear. Check him out.

As for the final personal remark, most metal detectorists combating the preservationists seem to be "middle aged cronies". Gary Brun is 46. Gordon Heritage is looking a bit rough too.

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