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.

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