Monday, July 25, 2011

Treasure Hunter Turns "Detective"

For the past couple of days another metal detectorist has been spamming my email inbox to join the other utter jerks who've been doing the same. It seems some people do not want anyone discussing artefact hunting. Steven Taylor a metal detectorist well-known in the Gloucestershire region first decided he was going to set Polish metal detectorists on me, not really recognising the somewhat different (not to say precarious) position of artefact hunting in Poland from that in England. Now he has been sending posts indicating he knows my address and is coming to see me "in two weeks". After, it seems he had worked out the costs and likely consequences (oh, DO bring your metal detector Mr Taylor), he has decided on another form of harassment:
The Poulton Hoard has left a new comment on your post "Collector Buys Exported Hoard but Gives it Back": You seem to have just 2 friends Paul one lives in Canada and another in Germany, I have all there (sic) details as they linked to my site and left a lovely trail, which a blind man could follow. I will post up my new anti barford blog shortly identifying where you and your friends live. With X marks the spot See you soon.
So, if Mr Taylor is not "all mouth and no trousers" as somebody said of him to me three days ago, the blogosphere is reportedly about to be blessed with another anti-Barford blog - this one apparently intends to attack people who even read my texts. That's the third blog opposed to my writing what I write (not counting the libellous Wikipedia article).

The Hidden Dark Underbelly of UK "Metal Detecting"

So yet another metal detectorist attempts to distract attention away from the issues being raised by preservationists like myself; Steve Taylor announces (see the post above) the imminent arrival of a third anti-Barford blog. It seems I am onto something with my comments on British policies on artefact hunting. These people are really hoping if they shut me up, the problems that I identify will continue to be ignored. Probably they are right, these are all things the PAS should be saying, and they show zero interest in doing anything at all in that area. Thirteen million quid over as many years and we still have people like 52-year old Steve Taylor strutting around showing off their contempt for anyone who thinks about artefacts in any way different from himself, as he says on one of the few bits of the Portable Antiquities Society website still accessible to public view:
I cannot stand archaeologist or F.L.O's probably for good reason. I believe the objects in the ground belong to all of us, not just museums.
Or Candice Jarman:
I passionately believe that archaeology belongs to the people - to all of us - and not to archaeologists. [...] In todays straightened (sic) times, can we afford to support so many University Archaeology Departments and Archaeology Units from the public purse?
and John Howland:
Across the Shires, the arkies are squealing like stuck pigs with their holier-than-thou protestations. Like the bully-boys they are, they can dish it out but can’t take it back. I’ve waited for over thirty years for this wonderful day to arrive; ‘tis music to my ears..... Well done Alan Melton. [my hyperlink - PMB]
Together with all the fellow anti-archaeological shout-down-the-opposition crowd: Jeb, Sheddie, Deepseeker, Belzoni, Baz, Kevmar, Clive Hallam, Edward Thompson and the many dozen others, too many to remember individually, whose idea of engaging with archaeology is to simply disrupt anything that looks as if it might develop into a sensible discussion about important issues (like the ACCG coineys then). That there is such a groundswell of non-compliance and opposition in the UK should not be shielded from view by the tendency of the advocates of artefact hunting intent on producing the impression that "the majority of artefact hunters are responsible". But it is not them that is doing the damage to the archaeological record which is being done by laissez faire wishy-washy pseudo-policies on artefact hunting in the UK. What does Britain plan to do with the rest? Ignore them and hope they go away? Pretend they don't exist and maybe they'll come round? Or take steps to deal with them that are inevitably going to cramp the style of the responsible guys? But then, is it not precisely the passivity of the majority of the "responsible guys" towards the extent of the loutishness in their ranks of the hobby that leads to this situation?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

More on Death Threats from Portable Antiquities Society


Regarding his threats sent to my blog ('Portable Antiquities Society Makes Death Threats'), the head of the Portable Antiquities Society has again contacted me explaining:

when you make libellous remarks about someone, you really don’t know who you are dealing with. I have always been known as a nasty piece of work, and people who have caused me trouble usually pay a high price.

It seems quite a lot of UK metal detectorists have not the foggiest idea what libel actually is. Nobody has made any libellous comments about the Society or its creator, and the law is entirely clear what recourse the injured party has if they allege that they have been libelled.

That many metal detectorists are "nasty pieces of work" is amply confirmed by what they themselves say about what colleagues have threatened or done in various circumstances and what we hear from PAS staff when Roger Bland is not listening and other UK archaeologists who have confronted them (most avoid doing so). Mr Taylor has a "reputation" and its not the first time this individual has been mentioned on the pages of this blog. So yes I think we all get a fairly good idea what kind of person we are dealing with from the words of his own mouth. There are many like him in the ranks of British metal detecting. Join a forum or two yourselves and take a look at what you see.

We might ask why the Mr Taylor thinks I am "causing him trouble" by looking at the material he himself posts on the internet. Like everybody else, I have every right to look at what is made available in the public domain and every right to express my opinion about it. Certainly much more right than Mr Taylor has threatening anyone at all over it.

Incidents like this brought out into the open show that it really is about time the public in Britain woke up to just what kind of people are among those going out in the fields onto archaeological sites with metal detectors either within or outside the law and taking away unsustainably large numbers of archaeological finds for entertainment and profit.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Read Steve Taylor's Website at your own Peril

From the not-so-urbane Steve Taylor, metal detectorist, an off-blog email just received:
Hi Arsehole I see you like my Roman coin and press cuttings, maybe you could give me a little boost on my website. By the way got a little surprise for you in your home country. In comunication with a couple of polish people, got a little job for them. Play with fire and you get burnt, little boy. See you soon or not
I'm in communication with quite a few Poles about metal detecting too, what a coincidence. Let us see with whom Mr Taylor is networking.

Let it be noted, this was precipitated by me looking at the public sections of Steve Taylor's Portable Antiquities Society website. So I guess Mr Taylor does not really want people looking at the finds depicted on his website. Why do you think he's so touchy about them that he is so concerned to induce others to give past viewers a "little surprise"?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mouthy CPAT? The Debate on Preservation in Wales

A few days ago some bloke from the Wrexham Heritage Society got irate that I pointed out that they were really just a metal detecting club. He thought he'd stick the knife in:
We are supported by the PAS, C.P.A.T & The National Museum of Wales. I would like to ask, why an archaeologist that we have recently worked with called you Paul barford "a mouthy twat"?? This i found very amusing.
No doubt. This archaeologist of course will only say such things behind people's backs, never to their face - let alone justify what issues they have with what I am saying about artefact hunting and the preservation of the archaeological record. Metal detectorists may find such behaviour "supportive", but is it going any way to fulfilling the aims of collaboration with artefact hunters simply to dismiss the sort of concerns raised here? Personally, I think an archaeologist should be addressing the wider issues of artefact hunting and collecting in their dealings with the public. Here however we seem to be observing how it is in practice, with the archaeologist shying away from saying anything his or her metal detecting "partners" might find controversial or unpalatable - so they just play along with the "we are on your side' ploy. Or perhaps this person really believes that archaeology is just about hoiking the stuff out?

Is it the archaeologists of the National Museum of Wales that have such a low opinion of somebody who urges we take a closer look at the way we treat the archaeological record and are telling the Wrexham Heritage Society artefact hunters of this?

Now interestingly enough, we know that in their collaboration with metal detecting clubs in northeast Wales, two of these bodies mentioned by the bloke from Wrexham, the Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust and the Portable Antiquities Scheme are actually represented by the same person. He is named on the PAS website. If we Google this guy's name he turns out to be a weedy young guy with long hair and a beard and who seems to spend most of his time talking to Womens' Institute meetings. If it is this gentleman who as part of his "archaeological outreach" to the public is expressing such an opinion of his older and more experienced colleagues, then he might at least have the decency to make such comments first to my face and say why he is "supporting" artefact hunters in this particular way and why he thinks the issues raised by myself (and my colleagues?) are just so much "mouthy twattery".

I do not expect he will. Still, if the gentleman concerned is the local FLO, we can take comfort from the fact that this sort of "outreach" about matters of concern will soon be ending, the Portable Antiquities Scheme is being closed down in Wales next year, and outreach to the public (if any) will take place through other avenues.