A guy walks into the psychiatrist wearing only clingfilm for shorts. The shrink says, “Well, I can clearly see you’re nuts.”
Let’s hear it for two mirth makers who have kept us entertained and laughing throughout the year: The pisspoor archaeo-bloggers Warsaw Wally and Heritage Harry. Just for them, here are twenty-three pieces of grammatical advice, innit!
This is the alleged transcript of the actual conversation of a US naval ship with the Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995 - radio conversation released by Chief of Naval Operations 10/10/95.
Canadians: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.
Americans: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the north.
Canadians: Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.
Americans: This is the captain of a US navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.
Canadians: No. I say again, divert YOUR course.
Americans: This is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, the second biggest ship in the United States Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers and numerous support vessels. I demand that you change YOUR course 15 degrees north. That's one five degrees north, or counter measures will be taken to ensure the safety of this ship.
Canadians: We are a lighthouse. Your call.
• Large, loft-style apartments in New York City are well within the price range of most people--whether they are employed or not.
• At least one of a pair of identical twins is born evil.
• Should you decide to defuse a bomb, don't worry which wire to cut. You will always choose the right one.
• Most laptop computers are powerful enough to override the communications system of any invading alien society.
• It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts: your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessors.
• When you turn out the light to go to bed, everything in your bedroom will still be clearly visible, just slightly bluish.
• If you are blonde and pretty, it is possible to become a world expert on nuclear fission at the age of 22.
• Honest and hard working policemen are traditionally gunned down three days before their retirement.
• Rather than wasting bullets, megalomaniacs prefer to kill their arch enemies using complicated machinery involving fuses, pulley systems, deadly gasses, lasers, and man-eating sharks, which will allow their captives at least 20 minutes to escape.
• All beds have special L-shaped cover sheets that reach the armpit level on a woman but only to waist level on the man lying beside her.
• All grocery shopping bags contain at least one stick of French bread.
•It's easy for anyone to land a plane providing there is someone in the control tower to talk you down.
• Once applied, lipstick will never rub off -- even while scuba diving.
• You're very likely to survive any battle in any war unless you make the mistake of showing someone a picture of your sweetheart back home.
• Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German or Russian officer, it will not be necessary to speak the language. A German or Russian accent will do.
• The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window in Paris.
• A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating, but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.
• If a large pane of glass is visible, someone will be thrown through it before long.
• If staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises in their most revealing underwear.
• Word processors never display a cursor on screen but will always say: Enter Password Now.
• Even when driving down a perfectly straight road, it is necessary to turn the steering wheel vigorously from left to right every few moments.
• All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when they're going to go off.
• A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.
• If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone you meet will know all the steps.
• Police departments give their officers personality tests to make sure they are deliberately assigned a partner who is their total opposite.
• When they are alone, all foreign military officers prefer to speak to each other in English.
While Warsaw-based Paul Barford and his drippy UK handmaiden, Nigel ‘Not Very’ Swift, are at great pains to rubbish the UK’s world beating Portable Antiquities Scheme along with everything and everyone connected with it, they have been caught fairly and squarely with their knickers round their ankles ready for a shafting of epic proportions. Now that their fact-free and heavily discredited Artefact Erosion Counter is shown to be a fraudulent tissue of lies, Barford, when pressed on the AEC's accuracy comes up well short -- as we all knew he would -- unable to answer the salient questions.
This AEC nonsense of theirs, peddled as being ‘scientific’ by these two laughingstocks purports to show, or more accurately, to dupe the casual observer into believing, that the number of artefacts, ‘hoiked’, as their pseudo-scientific jargon has it, from the ground, by Britain’s detectorists, is somehow factual; but is all a lie! And they’ve even sucked-in the CBA to their web of lies and inaccuracies.
The following foot-in-mouth gem from Barford’s PACHI blog exposes once and for all, the fraudulence of the AEC, exposed as a lie on the internet by an anonymous questioner. Read and ENJOY how Barford squirms and tries to parry and defend what has turned out to be the biggest hoax since the Piltdown Man. Looks like Nigel ‘Not Very’ Swift has done a runner to put some distance between him and the truth leaving his co-conspirator covered in crap!
Cop a load of this and ENJOY!
Monday, 9 December 2013
Question posed by "Anonymous":
"The acid test to prove the Erosion Counter's inaccuracy is to demand details of say, artefact number, 10 million and one. Where was it found, what is it, who found it, and when[?]
Well the rate the HE Artefact Erosion Counter has been ticking away means (as I make it) that the ten millionth and first object would have been found a little after one in the afternoon on Wednesday 16th September 2009, while I was in Egypt. The object recorded on the PAS database most likely at that time was Record ID: LANCUM-0F97C8 found at Robin Hoods House, Burnley Lancs. The name of the finder is unknown. This was something like the PAS' "421607th object" (and 268883rd record). The ten millionth and first object dug up by artefact hunters since 1975 which was dug up in a field on the same day may never have been reported to the PAS.”
COMMENT: Here's the proof if proof were needed that the Artefact Erosion Counter is nothing more than pure tosh. The PAS is fact-based, not a propagandist fantasy like the AEC. The AEC is phony and now, thanks to YOU, Barford, the world knows it as well! What’s even better -- to my mind at least -- is that the Council for British Archaeology which is for ever banging the anti-detectorist drum and not widely known for its pro-detecting stance, and who threw its weight behind you, Swift, and the Artefact Erosion Counter (now exposed as utter hogwash) have thanks to your sterling efforts, come up smelling of manure! Never again can the CBA accuse the detecting fraternity of inaccuracy. Well done old son (Oooh, Mikey, you ought to be more careful who you climb into bed with!). Now, thanks to YOU, Barford, the CBA have been made to look utter fools in backing fantasy over fact. I am delighted…I’ve waited over thirty years for this moment, and, ironically, it’s all down to YOU! God Bless you, Sir!
Oh, what an asset to archaeology you are. What a star! Whether they'll be drinking your health in York tonight is anyone's guess; but rather suspect the detecting community will certainly be raising a glass! I imagine too, that a certain Doctor of our mutual acquaintance and his team will be bouncing off the walls in delight, and in fits of laughter, in downtown Bloomsbury tonight.
Large ones all round!
Tales of treasures lost and fortunes found litters American history. Many of the tales dating to well over a century ago are born out of the days known as the Wild West. It’s the stuff of Hollywood legend and matinee idols, of the kind that made screen heroes out of Randolph Scott (a particular favourite), Gary Cooper (and you didn’t mess with him when he’d had more than two-fingers of Rub o’ the Brush), war hero Audie Murphy (Shane), and Rory Calhoun (known for his portrayal of The Texan) notwithstanding his time as a hoodlum who robbed a ‘jeweller’s store, stole a car, drove it across a state line making it a federal offence. He did three years in the Springfield, Missouri, penitentiary, finishing his incarceration in San Quentin). He made good and became a movie star. But my all-time favourite, was Ray Danton, star of The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (1960) and The George Raft Story. All these guys added to the romantic mystique of the pioneer West where truth and fiction blended seamlessly. However….
One particular treasure tale still remains cloaked in controversy. It concerns the so-called Colorado Dimes Incident, where barrels of freshly minted, silver 1907 Barber Dimes, reckoned today to be worth around $4-million to the finder, went AWOL in mysterious circumstances. So what makes these particular Barbers so special? Though some 4,080,000 were struck from 90% silver and 10% copper bearing the ‘D’ of the Denver mint, few ‘D’ Barbers exist today in really good condition, whereas the lost coins if found will be in excellent condition and highly prized. “This coin is tough to find in AU and MS, according to the David Lawrence Rare Coins blog.
Numismatists are divided in their opinions; some reckon that the 1907 Barber Dime is, inexplicably, one of the rarest American coin types, especially in Fine condition even though over four million were minted. Others say precisely the opposite. Today, just a handful exists in reasonably good condition. So who’s right? Depends who you listen to.
The story goes that in 1907, a shipment of these silver Barbers Dimes, were packed in a number of barrels at the Denver Mint, Colorado, and put aboard a Phoenix-bound wagon train. Neither they, nor any of the wagon train crew arrived at the intended destination. Somewhere along the trail they and the Dimes vanished from the face of the earth. Speculation abounds as to their fate: Were they prey to outlaws? Or did the wagon crew make off with them, or, as some treasure hunters believe, the wagon train fell victim to the treacherous terrain, possibly toppling into Black Canyon. Maybe even, the wagon train was swamped as it tried to ford the Gunnison River. My money (yeh, I know, a dumb-ass Limey), is on the latter and somewhere close to the Gunnison River’s Diversion Dam.
No one knows for sure the precise shipment’s precise fate, but if you could get your hands on the contents of those barrels you could be looking at a great payday at today’s prices. Good luck!
In one of his poorly written, near impenetrable blogs, Barford again rants and rages at Tekkies, rounding off his outburst with the best throwaway line in years:
Tekkie-Apologetic Winter [he means the excellent writer, John Winter] and his lowbrow-conspiracy-theory fellows are really getting pathetic with their childish denials. Just what do they take the rest of us for?
I'm not sure about the rest Barford, but I know what many take you for (including some arkies) and it rhymes with Rick!
The Daily Telegraph (November 27) reported that damage to a cricket pitch in the village of Lacock, Wiltshire, was the work of “treasure hunters” armed with metal detectors who’d dug holes all over the pitch.
The secretary of the Lacock Cricket Club, who also tends the pitch, told the Daily Telegraph, the initial attack occurred in late August, but further damage occurred in October. A Wiltshire Police spokesperson added that it was “thought someone had been using a metal detector” which resulted in the digging of holes.
Now, IF this damage is proven to the actions of a rogue metal detector user making a clandestine (presumably nocturnal) search of the cricket pitch and is eventually caught, then must face the full weight of the law. However, apart from holes appearing across the pitch, no evidence exists to link this damage to a metal detectors user, so why assume and accuse the entire metal detecting community on such flimsy evidence? Quite simply, someone has put two and two together and made FIVE! For example you never hear of an armed bank heist being attributed to a skeet shooter simply because they use shotguns too, or, the getaway wheelman described as and Indie Car driver.
The salient point in all this business is where the Daily Telegraph quotes a police source as; “It is thought that someone has been using a metal detector. And as a result, has been digging holes.” Who put that idea into their heads I wonder? Had this damage been attributed to black people, Eastern European immigrants, or Muslims, for example, on evidence this slender, there would rightly be uproar. There are other possibilities too: Perhaps the damage is a result of someone having grudge against the club; someone worm-gathering for fishing bait; moles; an archaeologist perhaps who's trying to blacken the hobby; or even rabbits. I am a metal detecting treasure hunter which makes me a suspect too along with every other detectorist in the UK. Who will clear our names?
If you have any information concerning this incident contact: Wiltshire Police Headquarters, London Rd, Devizes, SN10 2DN, Wiltshire. www.wiltshire-pa.gov.uk. If you are a metal detectorist who objects to this kind of casual assumption of guilt…complain. I have…to the Wiltshire Police Commissioner.
On a plane outbound from New York to London, an attractive lady sat next to hunk of a man, rugged, and squared jawed (not unlike Stouty). She was quite attracted to him.
“Ya’ll on business then?” says the hunk.
“Well sort of,” she replies. “I’m an archaeo-anthropologist and am giving a lecture in London.”.
“What subject are you lecturing on,” replies the hunk.
“Well, actually my research shows that Native American men have the longest organs, and that Polish men have the greatest circumference of the male member. A combination of the two is irresistible to most women.”
“Wow”, says the hunk.
“What do you do?” says the lady archaeo-anthropologist.
“I’m an international treasure hunter,” he replies.
“Pleased to meet you,” she says, “My name is Sadie.”
“Pleased to meet you,” says the hunk, “My name is Tonto Kowalski.”
“Cue a whole load of sly tekkie nastiness and the usual sock-puppetry that Heritage Journal suffers from those that serve as the only voice of the community. Or will we hear from some of the truly decent metal detector users who too are disturbed by the all-too-vague notion of "responsibility" used in blanket form towards this exploitive and destructive hobby? Are there any out there?”
COMMENT: The world regularly hears from responsible detectorists daily (or ‘Heritage Heroes’ as UK Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey rightly describes them). The famed Portable Antiquities Scheme is their internationally admired register that provides the basis for serious and ongoing academic study (see previous Mal Sal for details). Without wanting to seem overly harsh, the now widely discredited and propagandist, crackpot, fact-free, Erosion Counter; a nonsense dreamed-up in a garden shed in a fit of pique by archaeology-supporting anti-detectorists, offers nothing to the historical record. Why, or how, the CBA’s Director allowed his organisation to be sucked in to supporting the ludicrous AEC is anyone’s guess and it didn’t go unnoticed. The fact that it was, is great news for metal detecting! At least, we as a hobby, support accuracy!
“Have a look at what concerns metal detectorists in the USA - apart from their apparent lack of understanding what constitutes a "conflict of interest" in professional archaeology.”
COMMENT: He’s really upset by the slogan, I Am A Metal Detectorist and I Vote. Hardly surprising really, since in 1986, Warsaw Wally emigrated to Communist Poland where democratic freedom via the ballot-box was not widely encouraged!
If you’ve been off the planet for a few years, you won’t know that Paul Barford (Warsaw Wally) is both a Brit and an archaeo-blogger who describes himself as a ‘suntanned sushi lover living in Warsaw,’ Poland. He is virulently anti-detecting, hates private collectors, and often describes detectorists as uneducated and unable to express themselves coherently. His running mate is another Brit, Nigel Swift (Heritage Harry), who edits the very sad blog, Heritage Journal. Both are a constant source of huge global amusement, though some tend to take them seriously. It’s mainly through exposure on this blog that either of these two clowns reaches an audience outside than their closest acolytes.
Wednesday October 23rd 1935 was not a good day for one Arthur S. Flegenheimer. Early evening that day he was enjoying a meal in one of Newark, New Jersey’s top eateries, the Palace Chop House and Tavern with three of his cronies; Otto “Abbadabba” Berman, Bernie “Lulu” Rosencrantz, and Abe Landau. At 10.15pm two professional hitmen entered the Chop House; Charlie “The Bug” Workman and Mendy Weiss. Workman armed with a handgun and Weiss (the back-up man) with a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun. In a classic mafia ‘hit,’ Berman, Rosencrantz, and Landau got it first – all shot several times as they sat at their table and dying within minutes. Realizing Flegenheimer was missing from the table, Workman ran to the mens’ washroom where he found his quarry and shot him in the chest using rust-covered bullets to induce septicaemia should he survive the gunshots. In a matter of minutes, the violent criminal career of one of America’s most iconic mobsters, Arthur S. Flegenheimer, more popularly known as ‘Dutch’ Schultz, came to an abrupt and violent end.
Fatally wounded by the bullet having ricocheted around his guts before exiting through his lower back, Schultz hovered on the brink of eternity for almost twenty-four hours. Even with the wound causing severe internal bleeding which by now had become infected as Workman had intended, Schultz resolutely adhered to the Mafiosi’s Code of Omerta, or code of silence, refusing to say who had shot him, or why.
In hospital, with his condition rapidly deteriorating and the fever increasing, and now drifting in and out of consciousness, often rambling and mumbling the unfathomable, “The glove will fit what I say," and "The sidewalk was in trouble, and the bears were in trouble," the police brought in a bedside stenographer to record everything Schultz uttered. At 8.30pm the following day Schultz met his Maker.
Following his death Federal agents and members of the New York, and New Jersey Police forces tried in vain to make sense of his deathbed ramblings, but all to no avail. Nevertheless, Schultz who’d made millions from bootlegging, the numbers rackets, prostitution, and other nefarious business deals, left an intriguing legacy shrouded in mystery. For years the IRS had unsuccessfully tried to nail him but finally succeeded in bringing him before a Grand Jury on federal income tax evasion charges in mid-1935 but was acquitted; however, the IRS had other tax evasion indictments in reserve. No doubt fearing a potential lengthy prison term, Schultz helped by two trusted bodyguards, "Lulu" Rosencrantz, and Marty Krompier, prepared a ‘nest egg’ by stashing away some $7-million ($50-million at today’s value), in gold coins, diamonds, and cash, all packed into a metal safe.
Schultz and Rosencrantz drove to the Catskills where they buried the safe, some say, on the banks of Esopus Creek. Other rumors suggest he buried the safe near the trunk of a tree, marked with an "X" carved into it, somewhere near Phoenicia, New York. Rosencrantz and Krompier were sworn to secrecy, but "Lulu" couldn't keep his mouth shut and told Krompier where the treasure was buried, and about the map. The location of the cache remains unknown to this day, for soon after its burial, the only two men who knew the secret location were mown down in what became known as The Chophouse Massacre, leaving only Marty Krompier with an inkling of the treasure's location. Krompier’s luck ran out when two gunmen tracked him to a barber’s shop in New York City, where they gunned him down and stole the map. Miraculously, Krompier survived the shooting, but without the map was unable to locate Schultz’s fortune.
In 2001, American journalist and author, Stephen J Dubner, wrote an engaging article for the New Yorker, Dutch Schultz's Millions”. ….the treasure was buried near three pine trees. Or maybe beneath a lone poplar, or fourteen feet from a big sycamore. Schultz definitely carved an X in the tree,….. one pesky treasure hunter has since carved X's on a number of trees to throw off the competition. Some people believed that Schultz stashed the treasure outside of town beneath a rock outcropping known as Devil's Face. (This theory stems from a line in Schultz's famously incoherent deathbed ramble: "Mother is the best bet, and don't let Satan draw you too fast".
The New York Times reported in 1997; “The story goes that shortly before he was gunned down in a Newark restaurant, Schultz drove to the Catskill village of Phoenicia -- one of his regular haunts -- and buried a metal box packed with diamonds, gold, and $1,000 bills. Ever since, rumors have rippled and faded. The treasure is near a stand of big pine trees. It is buried by the Esopus Creek. It lies on a straight line between Mount Tobias and Panther Mountain. Treasure seekers regularly pass through Phoenicia, laden with books, spades, metal detectors and dreams…”
If however you’re tempted to search for Schultz’s treasure then apart from a reliable metal detector, you might want to take along a bullet-proof vest -- the Mafia also would like to get their hands on the cache. Gangland lore holds that Schultz’s enemies -- including ‘Lucky’ Luciano -- spend the remainder of their lives searching for the safe.
I guess I’ll pass on this cache!!
"The twentieth century was brutal for very many people and communities, and a lot of that brutality was due to their perceived "Otherness". The recognition by us all of the importance of this cultural variety is why states are encouraged to respect and preserve the cultural property of various groups, living or vanished, within their borders."
Paul Barford, describes himself as a "Suntanned sushi lover living and working in Warsaw Poland" in 1986 he emigrated to Communist Poland where brutality and murder were part and parcel of the vile political system he embraced; was employed by; and later warmly thanked for the help he received in connection with a book he authored.
Flicking through my new (signed) copy of Robert H Sickler’s extremely entertaining and educational read, DETECTORIST – A How-To Guide to Better Metal Detecting, recently, my eye was taken by an illustration of a particularly revolting Deer Tick (page 4-2). Wondering what such a beast had to do with metal detecting I read on….and wish I hadn’t!
In describing the pitfalls of wearing unsuitable clothing when out hunting he outlines how the eight-legged, blood-sucking, Ixodes Dammini, creeps into one’s clothing and heads for the armpits; behind the ears; scalp; and horror of horrors, the groin. Three or four sentences into Chapter Four, and I was already scratching various body parts in subconscious reaction.
Cop this for a sample horror story as Bob relates: “deer ticks’ carry what is known as Lyme disease. The number of ticks and the people who have been bitten continues to climb toward epidemic proportions. This disease can cause arthritic crippling, nervous system malfunction, heart problems and a list of other serious problems. Am I trying to scare you? Yes I am!” You sure did!
Thankfully, for me at least, these bugs mainly hang out,…” in parts of New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut…” and the Catskills no doubt; so if you’re going after Dutch Schultz’s treasure, keep a wary eye for Deer Ticks carrying violin cases!
DETECTORIST is a well written book and gives the reader the facts, plain and simple, though I must say, it's not solely limited to ‘newbies’. If this slightly larger than A4-size edition could be down-sized to A5-Paperback, it would make a handy companion on a trans-Atlantic flight. That said, it’s still an enjoyable, comfortable, feet-up, large Scotch-sipping fireside read.
What about exporting the British scheme [the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Ed] to the United States?
"It wouldn't work here," said Chris Espenshade, a consulting archaeologist for Commonwealth Cultural Resources Group in Michigan. "It's contrary to our culture." It's the mindset of "It's my property and I'll do what I want" and an American individualism that expresses itself in "no trespassing" signs.
“Furthermore, said Espenshade, "We don't have that kind of treasure in the United States. Most of the people out metal detecting aren't finding big money items. It's not a Celtic gold broach. It's a lead minie ball [an old bullet]."
“Still, he admitted, the compensation afforded by the United Kingdom's laws mitigates the idea that a finder should give away a treasure and not get anything in return.”
COMMENT: In Espenshade’s view, American cultural considerations and mind set, negates a UK-style PAS system to a non-starter Stateside, but I wonder what America’s thousands of detectorists make of it all? Indeed, there are archaeologists out there who I suspect would warmly welcome such a system. Has anyone asked either of their opinions? There are many buried objects of historical importance to the US historical record waiting discovery by pro-active metal detectorists. Age of the artefact is not important and Espenshade is way off the mark to suggest otherwise. Archaeologists by their very nature, are re-active and called in by third-parties stumbling across a ‘feature’.
Not only is he completely off-beam, but flashes that haughty arrogance beloved of academics by taking it upon himself to put the case for thousands of American detectorists, and for all US archaeologists. Indeed, if ‘most of the people out metal detecting’ as he suggests -- presumably he’s an expert? -- are only finding Minnie balls -- then Florida’s law-makers ought to listen to him, and the State’s detecting community, and abandon the totalitarian anti-detecting laws of the kind ‘Uncle’ Joe Stalin would have thoroughly approved. I never ceased to be amazed by some American politicians; on the one hand they are always first to send in the Marines in the cause of freedom, yet, are happy to entertain at home, that which they send their troops to die for, overseas.
Certainly, if US detectorists are finding only Minnie balls, why are some US archaeologists behaving like strutting Commissars in their attitude towards US hobbyists?
Perhaps the opposition to a PAS-style system in the US is more fundamental. Maybe it’s because some highly-placed archaeological nabobs are anxious to avoid at all costs the situation that exists in Britain where detectorists are storming away with fabulous finds; having TV programmes dedicated to their finds, having the respect of Government Ministers, and generally capturing the public’s imagination?
In Britain, many heritage professionals owe their employment to detectorists and the plethora of artefacts they bring to the light of day. If ever this tsunami of artefacts diminishes the mantra for a lot of these people will become, “Would you like fries with that?”
The prickly $64,000 question being dodged by our politicians is; what are we paying archaeologists for and are they value for money? Obscenely, only archaeologists are permitted to answer this conundrum …whereas the tax-payer is left out of the equation.
At the height of the Cold War two diplomats on opposing sides met in the bar of the United Nations building in New York:
A US Diplomat explains to a Soviet Russian Diplomat what democracy means; "In America I have the freedom to call President Reagan and the UK’s Prime Minister Thatcher, dickheads!”
Unimpressed, the Soviet Russian Diplomat shrugs; “So what? In Russia I also have the freedom to call President Reagan and the UK’s Prime Minister Thatcher, dickheads.”
Later on in the conversation, an English diplomat joins them at the bar, and turning to his Soviet Russian counterpart, says, “Y’know, Ivanovich, we in England have the best secret service in the world. All our top agents were educated at Cambridge University.”
The Soviet Russian downs his vodka and replies, “Yes, and so were ours.”
In 1986, three Polish archaeologists find themselves locked up by the Secret State Police, and they ask each other what they’re in for. The first arkie says:
“I was always ten minutes late on the dig so I was accused of sabotage.”
The second arkie says: “I was always ten minutes early on the dig, so I was accused of espionage.”
The third arkie says: “I always got to the dig on time, so I was accused of having a Western watch.”
Why do ex-SB* officers make the best Warsaw taxi drivers? Because you only need to tell them your name and they'll already know where you live!
*(Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs), or SB, was established in the People's Republic of Poland in 1954. It was the main security organization in Poland after 1956. It tortured and executed anyone suspected to be a dissenter.
Is it right for amateur archaeological clubs (those whose allegiance is to the Council for British Archaeology) to be allowed to stroll at will across our green and pleasant land gathering flint tools and collectable pottery shards without even a nod towards a Code of Conduct; without Third Party Insurance, or even telling the landowner, or even recording what they’ve ‘liberated’? Of course it isn’t. With orthodox archaeology types well in the minority, their well-meaning but ill-structured interference in the historical record is damaging.
All of which illustrates how more seriously detectorists are about accurately recording the heritage (see the PAS database) than the unstructured mish-mash of (often) ageing middle-class Leftists, bleeding-heart liberals, Guardian readers, and those from that strata of society who wear white poppies (for surrender?) on Remembrance Day; all of whom earnestly believe the heritage is their preserve, and playground, to the exclusion of everyone else.
There’s little more galling than to discover that a platoon of these bobble-hatted duffers have been out on a Sunday afternoon ramble, gathering God-knows-what from a site we have been researching and recording. The loss of data must be immense.
Yep, it’s true; size really matters. A large diameter coil will get you down to the depths where the big money lurks, especially on anything above coin-sized. Most ‘two-box’ types, or ‘depth multipliers’ will easily locate a 6”x6” metal cube to well over three feet depth; ideal if you are hunting the periphery of a non-scheduled roman, or other habitation site. In my experience, many hoards come from the ‘outer limits’ of such locations having been originally stashed away by indigenous Romano-Brits as a hedge against civil unrest. My Garrett Groundhog with a Depth Multiplier was/is truly awesome. The Fisher equivalent was, I’m told, similarly impressive, though I have no personal experience of its performance.
Many fabulous hoards have come to light in the UK at least, falling to ‘ordinary’ detectors responding to sizeable hoard-targets, so maybe, hoard locators are not really required? It’s a moot point. However, when I and my late friend Ron Scearce worked newly-acquired farmland we always ‘sterilised’ it by sweeping a Groundhog ADS-mounted Depth Multiplier, a task that took several days. Thereafter we knew the land was hoard-sterile before getting down to the serious business of finding and plotting single coin finds, brooches, and the other paraphernalia in the plough soil.
Nowadays, I spend more time looking for gold, and coins, and my ATPro International serves me well and the 8x11 coil does the biz, though the 4x5 Super Sniper really opens up the trashy areas. For greater depth my Sea Hunter II pi with the large coil is peerless.The PAS Marches On!
Amazingly, the Portable Antiquities Scheme Database is soon to reach its ONE Millionth artefact, so it’s hardly surprising that UK Culture Minister Ed Vaizey is so very impressed with the UK’s detectorists and treasure hunters. They have certainly repaid, with a phenomenal range of artefacts, the Governments’s money invested in the Portable Antiquities Scheme. We have every reason to be proud of the PAS database without which, the heritage and academic study would be so much poorer.
But questions need to be asked, not least among them: Is archaeology, overall, giving the hard-pressed tax-payer, value for money? Hmmm,… doubtful. Indeed, if archaeology ceased to exist tomorrow, what effect would that have on society? Not a lot some say. Apart from its more hard-working exponents, who in the main do a good job, archaeology bears all the hallmarks of a being an over-populated, taxpayer-funded, gravy train; English Heritage is rumoured to have removed the wool from its eyes and lopped 1600 staff from its payroll. The PAS on the other hand, offers greater value involving public participation on a grand scale, much to the annoyance of the intellectually threadbare.
Internationally respected numismatist, California-based David Welsh, sums it up succinctly, “ There will always be extremists who will howl about “artifacts being ripped from the ground” thereby “destroying their context” and “imperiling the archaeological record.” It is becoming increasingly clear that these howls have little to do with reality or common sense, and that those voicing them are very far from being representative of the archaeological mainstream.”
Can anyone imagine our opponents refusing to use PAS-sourced artefact data? Of course, they can’t admit to it whilst simultaneously slagging off the database itself, the Culture Minister, the British Museum, PAS staff, and the UK public in general, can they?
Level of research:-
I was unable to locate any research projects based on, or funded by Heritage Action, or Paul Barford, though their combined bitching and whining about the PAS are freely available. Neither could I find anyone doing research based on their (widely discredited) Artefact Erosion Counter. Strange that, innit?
During a murder trial, the defence attorney is cross-examining the coroner:
"Before you signed the death certificate, did you take the pulse, listen to the heart or check for breathing?"
"So, when you signed the death certificate, you weren't sure the man was dead, were you?"
“Well, the man's brain was in a jar on my desk, but I suppose he could have still been practicing archaeology for a living."
The following screaming banner headline appeared recently (28/7/13) on Heritage Action’s HERITAGE JOURNAL blog (Editor, Nigel ‘Not Very’ Swift) and raised more than a few laughs, even in Arkiedom.
“At last! Paul Barford and Mike Heyworth in total agreement”
Paul Barford did it in just 120 forthright words:“The PAS tries to make out that the “metal detecting community” is for the most part composed of normal, concerned, responsible, intelligent folk engaged in a “study of the past”, but who are just misunderstood. They need to because the government would not give them money otherwise. The actual picture is far more complex, the thrusting on us all of the PAS one-sided rose-tinted spectacle vision totally obscures (and, shamefully, is meant to obscure) the huge element, an undercurrent, of individuals that are portrayed on this blog by the metaphorical device of the fictional Thugwit Brothers. These are the people we need to take into account whenever assessing the hobby, not the 20% who can be brought with varying degrees of success into the fold by persuasion and logic, but the 80% who are totally resistant to anything like that.”Swift then adds; p>So the two of them are actually saying precisely the same thing (as am I). Paul and Mike, peas in a pod, united in thinking this bar chart can’t be ignored…. Artefact Counter 2 as at March 2013 (chart attached)” [At this point, Swift publishes the world famous and fact-free Artefact Erosion Counter, a propaganda graph purporting to show that over 11,000,000 artefacts have been dug-up since 1975, and nearly 3.5 million artefacts have NOT been reported to the UK’s Portable Antiquities Scheme].
Now, ya’ll might think this AEC stuff is powerful ju-ju from the Barford/Swift/CBA/Mike Heyworth Combo BUT, you’d be wrong. Actually, Paul Barford did it not in 120 forthright words, but 140!
However, you could well be forgiven for thinking that if Nigel Swift can’t count his own words accurately, or that 140 is beyond his ken, what credence can be placed on his figures -- presumably hoiked out of thin air -- for the Artefact Erosion Counter? Obviously, none of course, and even on this staggeringly poor form, even if his figures had any semblance of truth, he’s still a staggering 1.5-million out! So it's not hard to understand why the AEC is so heavily discredited -- even among archaeologists -- and so widely regarded as pura vitulum stercore!
Certainly feel free to quote me if this AEC fantasy raises its ugly head in the US if it’s bandied about as being an example of what’s happening in the UK. The Portable Antiquities Database backed by the UK Government and the British Museum is where you’ll find the truth.I am not alone in failing understand how the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) claims its Marsh Archaeology Award for example (for voluntary groups and individuals active in the UK), which recognises and promotes innovative and high quality dissemination of the results of research and/or fieldwork through publication, communication and archiving, gels with the blatant inaccuracies of the Swift/Barford/ AEC which bears no relation to fact, let alone quality high dissemination. The CBA, before launching into any attacks on our hobby, really ought to make up its mind if it's to retain any credibility; whether its' either a 'pro' accuracy organisation -- like the PAS -- or, it's a vague guess-timate Barford-esque outfit. On present form it seems as though its been led blindfolded into a box canyon. Behind the scenes murmurings suggest changes on the horizon.
An ingenious example of speech and politics occurred recently in the United Nations Assembly and made the world community smile.
A representative from Israel began: 'Before beginning my talk I want to tell you something about Moses: When he struck the rock and it brought forth water, he thought, "What a good opportunity to have a bath!" Moses removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water. When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished. A Palestinian had stolen them!
The Palestinian representative at the UN jumped up furiously and shouted,"What are you talking about? The Palestinians weren't there then."
The Israeli representative smiled and said, "And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech."
I fail to comprehend the pleasure obtained from a visit to the eponymous ‘Miss Whiplash,’ let alone paying for the privilege of being whipped, thrashed, and generally humiliated. But ostensibly it seems, those who enjoy being demeaned (without the whips, chains, and physical pain), can have their noses rubbed in the excrement of others …..for free!
You want proof? Then mosey over to Nigel Swift’s, Heritage Action blog, where under the heading, "Ed Vaizey insults every archaeologist and heritage professional!", scroll down to the comments section and you’ll see someone known only as, ‘SDG Member,’ getting, and enjoying – evidently -- the full treatment with all the extras. Over on Paul Barford’s notorious anti-metal detecting blog, ‘SDG Member’ gets another humiliating exposition!
Barford and Swift’s humiliation of ‘SDG Member’ shows why these two odious creatures are so loathed by right thinking archaeologists and detectorists alike. Whatever Culture Minister Ed Vaizey makes of them along with the insults they’ve hurled his way together with outrageous calls for his resignation, is anyone’s guess. Presumably, and in the absence of any condemnation, The Council for British Archaeology, and English Heritage, to name but two organisations with links to the Heritage Action blog, fully approve of Barford and Swift’s antics?
Why not contact the Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, and show your support for his sterling support of the PAS and metal detecting in general, and register your revulsion at Barford and Swift. You’ll find him at … email@example.com
Tompa is one of the great minds and opinion formers in world numismatics. What follows is taken from Peter Tompa’s recent blog:
“Even worse, one voice in the archaeological blogosphere [Barford. JH] has taken all this to an extreme. Indeed, he goes so far as to demand that what should be considered good news instead requires the resignation of the responsible Government Minister.[Ed Vaizey. JH]
Rather than celebrating the knowledge that has come from these finds, he instead claims these artifacts are better better left in the ground for future archaeologists to discover. But that is pure fantasy. Archaeologists will always be few in number. Their digs will always concentrate on significant sites, not the farmer’s fields where most treasure is found. And while we are waiting, it’s much more likely that the artifacts themselves will be lost through deterioration and development.
Luckily, most real archaeologists in the United Kingdom have made peace with metal detectorists. They recognize that the Treasure Act, the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and the knowledge of and preservation of artifacts they bring benefits all. So let’s all celebrate the latest finds in England and Wales and salute t he heritage heroes of the archaeological and metal detecting communities that have made it all possible.”
Peter Tompa has collected ancient coins for thirty years. He has written and lectured about cultural property issues for a decade. He is a contributor to a chapter on numismatics in K. Fitz Gibbon ed., “Who Owns the Past?” (Rutgers 2005). He has lobbied members of the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch in an effort to ensure that the small businesses of the numismatic trade receive fair treatment from federal regulators. He currently serves as a board member of the Cultural Policy Research Institute and the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild. He also has been a vice-chair of the American Bar Association’s Art & Cultural Heritage Law Committee. His advocacy has received notice in the media, including the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Art Newspaper and the Voice of America. He hopes his views as a collector and lawyer will provide a counterpoint to the “archaeology over all” perspective found in most blogs about cultural property issues. This Web page is a public resource for general information and opinion about cultural property issues, and is not intended to be a source for legal advice.
In 1986 during the Cold War, a Russian and a Polish archaeologist were excavating an ancient site when the Polish arkie hits his shovel against something hard in the ground. Both work hurriedly to dig the object out to discover it’s a treasure chest. Opening it they find jewels, coins, and gold trinkets beyond their wildest dreams. They dance round in excitement.
When they have calmed down, the Russian takes the Polish arkie’s hand and earnestly says; "Tovarisch, we will share this just like Russian and Polish comrades always do,” to which the Polish arkie replies, "F**k off! It’s 50 - 50"!
Two arkies and a treasure hunter die in a car accident and are met by St Peter at the Pearly Gates, who asks them, "When you are in your casket and your friends and family are mourning you, what would you like to hear them say about you?"
The first arkie says, "I would like them to say that I was a great archaeologist and a loving family man."
The second archaeologist says, "I would like them to say that I was a caring husband and a great historian who made a huge difference to the heritage."
The treasure hunter says, "I would like them to say -- LOOK, he's moving!"
Two archaeologists, Paul and Nigel, found three unexploded hand grenades during an excavation, and decided to take them to the police station.
Paul: "What if one explodes before we get there?"
Nigel: "We'll lie and say we only found two!"
Paul, a disgruntled arkie defects to Soviet Russia at the height of the Cold War.
“Welcome Comrade Pavel, to the worker’s Utopia,” says the Political Commissar, “Let me show you how good life is here in the East.” Then he takes the new recruit on a tour of Moscow’s top department stores, ones where only top Party members are allowed to shop.
“Look,” says the Commissar, “American cigarettes, Scotch whiskey, everything you could want.”
Pavel is amazed. “Very nice,” he stutters, “But what if the commies find out?”
There’s a rumour going around that Paul B is giving up archaeo-blogging to become a football coach. He’s had all his teeth out and 52 seats put in.
Over the past weeks there’s been too much ‘Barford’ in my column and I’ve in effect become his unpaid Publicity Manager, gaining him a wider audience than his own distorted blog warrants.
As we know, he’s a loathes all things metal detecting, American, the PAS, private collecting, relic hunting; and there’s nothing I, you, or anyone else can say or argue to the contrary, to stem the flood of sewage on his ridiculous blog that takes the form of an unrelenting tirade of insults, vilifications, and gormless bile aimed at treasure, and relic hunters. From the tone and twisted content of what he writes, I am certain in my own mind, and my suspicions are confirmed, that he has certain issues to overcome which with the right help, and due time, I hope he’ll overcome. In this at least, we should all wish him well.
It’s not so much what he writes that causes acrimony, but an especially unfortunate trait demonstrated by his cold and calculating use of a cancer victim to score argument points.“The position of Ms McIntyre however became less than clear when a short while after she wrote an attack on the Heritage Action model, she started to receive certain sums of money from the very same metal detectorists for whom she had written her ‘critique’. Now, I am sure she needs that money for a good purpose, but it cannot be denied that this raises questions which cannot be ignored of a possible conflict of interest.” Without doubt and in the minds of most people, he’s crossed the Rubicon of moral integrity.
David Welsh, Chairman of the International Affairs Committee, of the prestigious (American) Ancient Coin Collectors Guild, wrote on his excellent blog; my wife holds a doctorate in psychology, and she has explained to me that such behavior reveals a personality disorder characterized by narcissism and unrealistic, irrational fantasizing.
It is not in my remit to lampoon the afflicted....
The World Monuments Fund (WMF) recently unveiled its 2014 World Monuments Watch programme. For the past decade and a half, the WMF has been turning the international spotlight on at-risk cultural, and heritage sites. It names five categories as the primary causes of damage and concern:
Conspicuous by its absence is that hoary old chestnut ‘looting,’ favoured by the Warsaw-based, ‘Scrabble-loving’ Paul Barford, and his side-kick, Heritage Action’s Nigel Swift -- their shorthand for metal detecting/collecting/and all things evil!
Obviously, these two buffoons have ‘gilded the lily’ once too often -- at least as far as this hobby is concerned -- which is perhaps why their crass twaddle has been so studiously ignored by better informed professionals?
There is another reason of course. Could it be that someone on the WMF got wind of the now heavily discredited Artefact Erosion Counter (AEC) -- phoney figures posing as the statistically bona fide in which our two jesters had a significant hand -- and hasn’t stopped laughing since?
The archaeological community are surely wringing their hands in embarrassment at the antics of these two chumps; being precisely the sort of people whose views are so extreme that heritage professionals have got to be asking themselves the question: Whatever possessed the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) -- usually quite astute -- to throw in its lot with Paul Barford and Nigel Swift in what has now become the AEC debacle?
More seriously, by association, the CBA with its tacit approval of the wholly amateurish, and therefore unsurprisingly, discredited AEC, binds all archaeologists by proxy -- in the absence of any condemnation -- in joint approval of Barford and Swift’s contempt, insults, and ridicule of the British Museum, the DCMS, and the Portable Antiquities Scheme along with anything, and everyone, connected with it.
Garrett's ATPro advertised by notorious anti-archaeological detectorist engaged for the purpose:
"An experienced user or a fast lea[r]ner will recoup the cost of this machine in the first year".
What message does that give out?
Yes Pauly-Poohs, I am that ‘notorious anti-archaeological detectorist’ and author of the above quote -- complete with the spelling bait -- taken from my very excellent, Malamute Saloon blog, one you’ve obligingly drawn attention to via your much lesser organ. The ‘ATPro International’ as you thoughtfully repeated to your reader, has found me a small fortune in a tad over eighteen months.
I am however, at a bit of a loss as to how best to explain the quote in grown-ups words that you and your reader -- being Hard-of-Understanding apparently -- will comprehend (grasp)? Er…Um…let’s give it a go shall we? Are you sitting comfortably (easily)? …. It means, an experienced user or a fast learner will recoup the cost of this machine in the first year. Though my Polish is not what it was, perhaps this is more helpful?
"doswiadczony uzytkownik lub szybko uczacy sie bedzie odzyskac koszt tej maszyny w pierwszym roku".
Some of the English (Angielski) words that you are obviously (clearly) having trouble understanding (knowing), I’ve defined (made simpler) for you.
I hope this is helpful (caring, obliging). Thank you too for the spelling correction. Please note; I’d much prefer it if you’d refer to me as a Treasure Hunter. I like the notorious label too…has a certain devil-may-care cachet about it.
I get the odd email -- courtesy of Garrett’s Steve Moore -- from irate individuals either unable or unwilling to come to terms with the vagaries of this world-beating metal detector. With a price tag of £595 in the UK ($890.00 or thereabouts Stateside) this machine is, in my view, backed by over three decades at the sharp end of treasure hunting, the best metal detector in the value-for-money equation and is superior to many machines at twice the price. It’s a fact not open to negotiation -- I’m telling you straight.
“Ah,” I here you say, “You would say that, you’re on the Garrett payroll.” Actually, I ain’t and I was given an ATPro following my severe beach testing of it during which I made it jump through hoops of fire over a number of weeks. Garrett’s Steve Moore initially said that at the end of the test period I could keep it provided I allowed Garrett to use my name to back it. He got two words, and the second one was “off”.
After a little horse-trading the deal ironed out thus: I’d test the machine for Garrett but if it went tits-up during testing I’d tell them they’d a real turkey on their hands, but with an escape clause for me that they’d take my name out of the equation. BUT, if was any good and met the criteria they advertised it would meet, and I liked it, they’d let me keep it and I’d let them use my name in any advertising associated with it. The deal was done.
My opinions of the ATPro are already well ventilated, though I divert from Garrett’s advertising puffery in that it’s a switch-on-and-go type machine -- it ain’t! It will no more give you perfect results than will an inexperienced violinist picking up a Strad! But in the hands of an experienced user it produces sweet music indeed. An experienced user or a fast leaner will recoup the cost of this machine in the first year.
If you need an additional coil, DON’T go large, GO small…either the 6.5”x9” (standard on the ATGold), or the ‘beach scalpel’ to slice through the junky areas, the 4.5” Super Sniper.
Urban Myth 1: The ATPro is useless over salt water sand!
Urban Truth 1: It’s arguably the best non-pi machine on the beach or in the surf. Its Ground Balance is supreme.
Urban Myth 2: It ‘falses’ over wet sand.
Urban Truth 2: No it doesn’t -- that’s operator error! Read the handbook! Read it again, and again!
Irrespective of the make, your metal detector’s handbook is probably the best piece of equipment you’ll get your hands on. Read it, inwardly digest, then read it again. Assemble the detector as per instructions; keep reading the handbook. Learn how it reacts audibly and visually to gold, silver, coins, pull-tabs, and iron.
Check out your manufacturer’s online training videos and compare notes to your own findings before venturing forth into the field and when you do, take the handbook with you. Even though you may well be a seasoned hunter, a new machine means a new learning curve so ease yourself gently into the learning process. It will pay off!
Given the choice of resettlement, who -- apart from dyed-in-the-wool Commies -- would emigrate from the democratic Free West to live in the totalitarian, Communist state of North Korea? Fast rewind.
Why would anyone want emigrate from the Free West in 1986 to live in the former Peoples Republic of Poland; a Communist state where incarceration without trial, State torture, fast tracking to the Gulags, food rationing, along with all the other benefits of Communism, unless they were either on the KGB payroll, politically naïve, or simply, plain daft?
Well, some people -- not many -- did precisely that. So far so good…but would you trust the judgement of a man who made that journey? Would you trust anything such a man said or uttered? You probably wouldn’t. You’d probably think (rightly, perhaps) his judgement was seriously flawed. Would you follow such a man as a disciple? Probably not…but some people think his excrement is aromatic. You’ll find them on a heritage blog near you!
I was only following orders, guv…no, not me, I had nothing to do with it…I knew about it…so says, serial bull-shitter, and cat lover, Paul Barford:
“…The first point is that although I collaborated on this project, the counter is neither my idea or authorship…”.
The cracks are starting to appear….no guesses as to whom will be carrying the can when the AEC descends into the cesspit and held up to greater public scrutiny.
This then, is the level of ‘accuracy’ that mainstream archaeology allies itself. This hobby has no position to defend. Can we really trust the judgement of so-called ‘experts’ who portray fiction as fact? Nope!
Now, where have I heard this sentiment before: “The theory of Communism may be summed up in one sentence: Abolish all private property.” Karl Marx .
A friend who’s well placed to comment on the international trade in illicit antiquities, gave me the inside track on the ‘under-the-counter’ trade in looted artefacts and antiquities particularly from Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and that favourite playground of light-fingered archaeologists, Afghanistan.
What’s happening is apparently par for the course in conflict zones. However, with the connivance of dubious museum curators who, along with even more dubious heritage professionals out for a fast buck, ‘provenance’ of any artefact, can apparently be had for a price; be it cash, gold in the form of Sovereigns or Krugerands, a ticket west, or even a kilo of good coffee.
Contrary to fringe archaeology’s (rabid) propagandists who manipulate the truth to suit their own anti-collecting agendas, metal detectorists are NOT the conduit through which these looted artefacts are reaching the antiquities markets, museums, and those heritage professional who stash this gear as a hedge against inflation. This particular pipeline is much closer to home. For all its huffing and puffing against private collecting, the politically motivated international archaeological lobby appears powerless to halt what appears to be a lucrative trade in illicit antiquities. Powerless?…Well..er, not exactly. Some less-than-casual observers now believe the intention of these street-wise heritage wide-boys, is to set running a false hare that the dogs of legislation will follow. Some of the curbs being promulgated to achieve what will in the end be self-serving draconian laws, is based on ‘evidence’ that ain’t quite as Kosher as they’d have you believe.
Undoubtedly some policymakers are solid ivory from the neck up, but the sharper ones know that if world can be led to believe it’s detectorists at the cutting edge of the illicit trade in antiquities, then the implementation of anti-detecting laws should - their view - be a cinch to enact! Then it’s on to nailing down legal collectors. Such legislation if enacted would serve three main purposes; protecting archaeological jobs; bringing independent amateur involvement in heritage and cultural investigation under their strict say-so, and lastly bringing all the current legal heritage ‘goodies’ and those still waiting discovery, firmly under their control. A cartel in fact.
The US-based, Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG), is typical of the ‘honourable trade’ fighting to reduce and expose relic theft, despite repellent insults hurled at it by the notoriously offensive propagandist, the anti-collecting, anti-American, anti-metal detecting, and pro-inaccuracy archaeo-blogger, Paul Barford. What Barford omits in his grossly flawed and strange outbursts, is that senior ACCG member, the widely respected numismatist David Welsh, from Goleta, CA (as just one example), has done more to help curb this illicit trade, especially in coins, than the posturing Barford will ever achieve.
Barford is to accuracy what Yuri Geller is to spoons...
In a convivial conversation at a local hostelry (over a few ales) with a farmer/landowning friend recently, he regaled me with tales a-plenty, admitting membership and a keen supporter of a certain amateur archaeological society whose name I am unable to reveal for reasons that will become obvious.
“Yeah, they’re a great bunch of people,” my friend told me, “And you’d really be interested in their private collections….coins, buckles, and stuff. Fascinating. They’re all using metal detectors now y’know.”
Fascinating indeed! And not one item in those private collections registered with the PAS. I’ve no complaint about them having private collections, in fact I’m all for it, but they really ought to tell someone about their finds, or the contents of their collections so that accurate records can be made. Neither are these magpie archaeologists alone I suspect, having many counterparts up and down the country. Nothing wrong here on the face of it – just wish they’d tell the PAS what they’ve got….just like we do.
So the question I’ve posed before raises its head yet again; should amateur magpie archaeologists have some form of Code of Conduct/Practice; one not dissimilar to our own, or, is legislation the answer to stem the loss of data? The answer’s obvious of course… there must be something place; but who in the archaeological community or its hierarchy, has the nous, or plain guts and forward thinking to demand that their own kind be brought into line with the high standards set by the UK’s metal detectorists and the Portable Antiquities Scheme?
Losing precious data connected with unreported finds is as serious a loss we are told, by archaeologists themselves, as the loss attributed to spoils made by criminals using metal detectors! Seems to me though, the real threat to the historical record is not from so-called nighthawks - archaeological shorthand for rogue hobbyists - (proven by the £66,000 Nighthawking Report to be hardly a problem), but from a new menace; what might be now labelled, well-meaning amateur archaeological Dayhawks! The libel laws prevent me from currently naming names, but some of those written down on the back of a pub’s beer mat, came as no surprise at all.
(Note to Self: Must bring this to the attention of my Member of Parliament).
Roy Rutledge made an interesting and thought-provoking comment on Stout Standards recently, that, “A couple of years ago you could go to the lake and find 75 to 100 coins and 2 or 3 rings with no problem. Now it is 25 to 30 coins ( if you are lucky ) and maybe one ring. Too many people with detectors.”There are two obvious answers; either he’s right and there really are too many detectorists out there, or, Roy’s lost his touch.
I doubt it’s the latter, as I guess he knows his locale better than most. So, is he right there are there too many hunters? Certainly metal detector sales rocket in the wake of a major treasure find, but these machines soon appear for sale when their get-rich-quick hopefuls realise there’s a lot more to treasure hunting with a metal detector than they’d been led to believe. Then again, maybe there aren’t too many treasure hunters at all, just a few who’ve heard of a great hunting location.
At the other end of the scale are those who, like a pal of mine, spent a small fortune on top-end fly-fishing gear, only to find that he wasn’t catching the trout he thought he would. Any rod will catch fish; it’s the hand that uses it that brings success. It’s no different with our hobby.
Some inland hunters, God Bless ‘em, imagine beachcombing with a metal detector is an easy option to supplement the holiday budget.
I met and got into conversation with a detectorist on my local beach a few days ago. He was a somewhat taken aback that I guessed he was on holiday. It was easy I told him, since he was using the wrong metal detector, in the wrong places, with the wrong recovery tool. Therefore, it was obvious he was an inland hunter. It soon transpired he thought beach hunting was simply a matter of strolling onto the beach and filling his pockets with assorted coins and jewellery. How wrong he was!
He was a little downcast when I told him that the cheapest and most basic of machines will find treasure on a beach, PROVIDED it’s used in the RIGHT place at the RIGHT time! That knowledge is hard won through observation and putting in the hours on the beach. In the event, he followed my advice and headed off to a location nearby. I hope he did well.
I have long been opposed to displaying human remains in museums or elsewhere under the guise of heritage. Yet this outrage is to be further advanced by English Heritage with a display of human bones at the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre causing the Druid campaigner, King Arthur Pendragon to threaten, "the biggest protest in Europe," if human bones are put on permanent display. Good luck to him in his quest.
He told BBC Wiltshire recently that, "English Heritage has two choices - they can either be world leaders and show the way to the rest of the world, or they can stick with the Victorian idea of ogling at the dead, in which case they would have the biggest protest in Europe because I would be leading it."
Even that vacuous ensemble, Heritage Action (HA), those ambassadors for archaeological absurdity at the Court of Common Sense, have shown uncharacteristic rationality over this issue, though not I suspect out of any respect for the dead; but from the mercenary standpoint of ducking yet another archaeological scandal. The notion of guilt by association is writ large.
“Displaying human remains at the Visitor Centre isn’t essential to its central purpose the interpretation of the monument,” HA trills, “So the planned display – which includes mounting an actual skeleton upright – is surely provocative, to say the least?” Provocative indeed. Strangely they remain mute about mummies in the BM. It’s all another example of what happens when you leave archaeology to over-zealous, out-of-control archaeologists. On this showing there’s a real for them to be subjected to public scrutiny and the prevailing mood of good taste.
If ever there was a perfect case for overseeing and bringing archaeology to heel, this Stonehenge debacle is it. It’s surely time to be asking government to set up an over-arching body comprised of non-archaeologists to which heritage hooligans would have to justify their repellent and/or money wasting fancies!
It’s certainly triggered a bit of a to-do that’s for sure. The men-in-white-coats in downtown Garland are playing their cards close to their chests and at the time of writing, though the ATX has yet to be released onto the market, the pre-release advertising foreplay is doing its stuff and not least of all amongst non-Garrett users! But being a pi machine the ATX seems to have, on paper at least, the potential for a great, deep-seeking future, in areas where pi’s hold court; beaches, desert nugget hunting, and in areas of highly mineralized ground.
Being waterproof to three metres, compact, and with a hard, carry-case option, it’s destined to become the ‘must have’ machine for airborne treasure hunters wanting to hit foreign beaches.
From what information I have gleaned from various sources, the ATX is the civilian version (I hope) of Garrett’s military spec, RECON-PRO® AML-1000, which sports Tone ID, giving the operator a low tone for most(?) ferrous and a high tone for most non-ferrous targets. If this is really the case, then Garrett’s really do have a world class hobby/semi-pro machine on their hands, and experienced treasure hunters will recoup its MSRP: $2,495 (£1,560 approx.) price in double quick time.
If in the fullness of time I can get my hands on an ATX and play about with it up in the dry sand, and below the High Tide Line….I’ll let you know!
Now that Stout Standards has left the nauseating, farce-aeologist Paul Barford floundering with his disciples in their own terminological inexactitudes, its time to move on and lay these abysmal nonentities (or ‘victims’ of Thugwittery as they nauseatingly like to portray themselves) along with the preposterous, shoddy, and spineless Heritage Action to rest - at least for a few weeks anyway. The civil war that’s about to erupt between Barshole, Heritage Harry and the gals, and the Council for British Archaeology is on course for a behind-the-scenes eye-gouging Oscar showdown. Watch and enjoy.
The way Barshole mercilessly shafted the Council for British Archaeology’s Grand Fromage, the hapless Dr Mike Heyworth, in one of his notorious blogs, was for me… piquant. A classic piece of academic treachery.
What I found to be the most staggering aspect of this debacle was Heyworth’s naivety bearing mind Barshole’s well-known track record for inaccuracy; spectacularly highlighted in Stout Standards when the now heavily discredited Artefact Erosion Counter was exposed as complete fact-free bunkum – which left the CBA , who gave it a tacit thumbs-up, with egg all over its academic chops.
Obviously, either poor old Mikey’s not savvy enough, or too trusting perhaps, to take on board the fact that to stab someone in the back you first have to get behind them…a fact he’s discovered to his cost.
Tough luck Mikey, but that’s showbiz! But if it’s any consolation Mikey, Barshole behaved like a complete turd!
According to Barford's latest blog of inaccuracies, he still reckons (as of the 30th August) that:-
"The Bosworth Boar (object number five) again was not found accidentally by "a member of the public" but as part of a multi-disciplinary archaeological research. How many more of the "100 objects" were similarly misrepresented in the interests of the programme's fluff-propaganda for collecting is anyone's guess." And still Barford can't get his facts right!
Again, this from the man who professes accuracy of his own calling (whatever that might be), whist slagging off all relic hunters, and now falling out with CBA Director, Mike Heyworth, whom he accuses along with Dr Roger Bland Head of the PAS by posing the question;
"Quite why the PAS (and the Director of the CBA) felt they had to engage in this unprofessional deceit is anyone's guess."
More to the point perhaps, it's anyone's guess why Paul Barford can't or won't get his facts straight. On this form, God knows what credence anyone can now place on anything he writes.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme introduction reads:-
“The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a DCMS [ Department of Culture, Media and Sport] funded project to encourage the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales. Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, many of these by metal-detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work. Such discoveries offer an important source for understanding our past.”
Some archaeologists consider themselves a bit special and well apart from the common herd or the Great Unwashed. Leading the charge of a handful of Truth Benders, is unsurprisingly, our old pal, Paul Barford, the Warsaw-based ‘historian’ who not only is somewhat coy about his archaeological qualifications; but is the same man who gave up life in the Free West to live under Communism in Poland in 1986 just at a time when the Poles were trying to rid themselves of Soviet-imposed Communism.
In a superb piece of propaganda worthy of the Nazi’s Dr Goebbels, he asserts loftily that the silver-gilt boar badge depicted on the PAS website was not found by a Tekkie, but an archaeologist! How come? Simply that the Tekkies who joined Dr Foard’s battlefield research team to locate the true site of the 1485 Battle of Bosworth were paid for their time and expenses suddenly morphed them arkies.
Paul ‘Boy Blunder’ Barford reckons that because (odd grammar capitals included), “…they were paid. In other words they were at the time part of the archaeological project,. So much so that when one found a silver badge (The Bosworth Boar), they did not get a Treasure reward, as archaeologists are not eligible. (Its inclusion as object number 5 in the PAS pro-tekkie propaganda programme "Britain's Secret treasures" is another manipulation of the truth, it was not "found by a member of the public but by a professional archaeological team).
But where Boy Blunder the ‘historian’ gets it completely wrong and makes an unholy mess of the facts (no wonder he remains coy about his qualifications!!) is that the boar shown on the PAS website is not the same one as that found by Dr Foard’s team (theirs came from the battlefield site!) The PAS boar was found at Chiddingly, Sussex, some 166 miles south of where the Battle of Bosworth took place! The PAS describe ‘their boar’ thus: ‘Boar Badge of Richard III from Chiddingly, Sussex. Featured at number 5 on Britain's Secret Treasures.’
So much then for the accuracy of the Barford’s other fanciful creation; the Artefact Erosion Counter…Ho, Ho!
Some Tekkies overcome at the excitement of a great find have been known to wander off in a daze leaving their Garrett Pro-Pointers at the find-spot! With the World’s best pin-pointer costing around ninety quid a throw, it’s an expensive but easily committed error. But help for the scatter-brained is available.
Enter a natty little gadget from Regton Ltd, the, Expandable Coiled Lanyard for Pinpoint Probes with the Security Attachment for your Garrett Pro-pointer, costing around £18.00. Phone early and you’ll be surprised at the rapid return of your order! Faster than a Red Star parcel!
If on the other hand your machine’s gone belly-up then expect the same sparkling service from the lads and lasses at Regton, where they’ll even collect your metal detector for repair. One of mine developed a problem and from the time of making the early phone call to getting back out on the beach, was just four days!
Further details available from Regton Ltd, Cliveland Street, Birmingham, B19 3SN, or, have a look at their wonderful website; Regton, Ltd.
Tel: 0121 359 2379 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For some unexplained reason, the words of former US President, Harry S. Truman, spring to mind:
Liaising with detectorists working under his direction helped, Dr Glen Foard and his team prove the Battle of Bosworth fought in 1485 took place not at Ambion Hill, Leicestershire, but two miles away on low-lying ground bordered by a marsh known as Fen Hole. The battle marked the last major conflict of the Wars of the Roses.
Fought on 22 August 1485, the battle was won by the Lancastrians and their commander, Henry Tudor, went on to become first of the Tudor Dynasty to take the English throne. His adversary Richard III died in the battle. Six hundred years later, Richard III’s remains were excavated from under a Leicester car park. Argument and controversy rages as to where his bones will finally lay to rest. Some favour York, others Leicester.
In recent years some historians have cast serious doubts on the battle’s time-honoured location. To settle the matter, Dr Glen Foard was called in by Leicestershire County Council. He in turn enlisted the help of dedicated metal detecting enthusiasts and in March 2009, a 30mm lead ball was recovered with many more relics coming to light from the Fen Hole site, proving yet again, metal detectors in the right hands are invaluable tools in locating the sites of battlefields, skirmishes, meeting places, fairs, and the like. Being a keen artilleryman, Richard III probably chose the flat, Fen Hole site, where his guns could be used to maximum and devastating effect. Henry's troops aware of the danger, and using the protection of the marshland, outflanked Richard’s artillery.
Signicficantly, the ‘Brat Pack’ are curiously silent about Dr Foard’s co-operation with detectorists, though highly vocal and insulting to amateur archaeologists doing the same thing elsewhere! I wonder why?
All credit to the detectorists involved; and presumably will be ‘Mentioned in Dispatches' and whether this ‘Bosworth Example’ evolves into the blue-print for co-operation, only time will tell. Importantly too, Dr Foard informs me….” The detectorists from the core detecting team were indeed reimbursed.”
On the subject of books written by archaeologists based on their excavations, critics allege they are in effect, being paid twice the same job; firstly from their salaries, or initial contract fees, and secondly, from any royalties realised from follow-up tomes. The academic value of these books is open to speculation bearing mind an excavation/research report (if such a mythical creature exists), is or should be, the definitive work, and if such a beast really does exist, what extra information can a book add to the overall canvas? Indeed, if such data does exist, why was it not in the original excavation report? Why was it held back for later private publication?
Though not currently illegal, many archaeologists with a literary bent who write books based upon their scrapings are merely pilgrims travelling a well-trodden archaeological literary path as many others have done before them. Whilst Policemen, Judges, and senior Civil Servants, and others salaried from the public purse, their critics allege, are not allowed to publish books or memoirs using actual data garnered during their official tenures; why, they say, should archaeologists and historians be exempt? A fair point you might think.
The archaeo-bloggers’ spoilt-brat faction are throwing their toys out of the play-pen for no better reason than the Essex Detecting Society(EDS) is liaising with an amateur archaeology club, the Worlingworth Local History Group (WLHG) for organising a joint metal detecting event with profits going to local good causes. The ‘brats’ are even more spiteful towards the ‘offending’ amateur archaeologists for apparently sullying themselves by fraternising with people they have branded as the ‘enemy’. Of course, while it’s all very childish smacking of Sixth Form politics and totally unworthy and embarrassing for archaeology as a whole, it’s done wonders for metal detecting.
One archaeo-commentator summed it up rather succinctly. “Have PAS got it into their heads that amateur archaeologists think and act like detectorists?” he writes, “How insulting. They don’t.” And he’s not wrong! Some amateur arkies really do need to be raised to our scrupulous standards. For example, they don’t even have a Code of Practice, let alone Third Party Liability Insurance as detectorists do – a fact not lost on the NFU, and the more savvy landowners.
The excellent Worlingworth Local History Group are true pioneers and their joint venture could well lead to other similar events provided they remain courageous enough to a cock-a-snoop at supercilious archaeologists and simply ignore the vile, ludicrous comments of the head-bangers in their midst masquerading as intelligent human beings.
Well done the WLHG and EDS!
During my time I have run across only a handful of people who apparently displayed all the tragic traits of NPD. According to PsychCentral’s staff:
“Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by a long-standing pattern of grandiosity (either in fantasy or actual behavior), an overwhelming need for admiration, and usually a complete lack of empathy toward others. People with this disorder often believe they are of primary importance in everybody’s life or to anyone they meet. While this pattern of behavior may be appropriate for a king in 16th Century England, it is generally considered inappropriate for most ordinary people today.”
“People with narcissistic personality disorder often display snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes. For example, an individual with this disorder may complain about a clumsy waiter’s “rudeness” or “stupidity” or conclude a medical evaluation with a condescending evaluation of the physician.”
For more data on this distressing condition visit: how-to-spot-a-narcissist.
Published on July 25, 2012 by Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D.
“It's now emerging that Colorado theater shooter James Holmes failed his graduate school oral exams last month.
Although he graduated from UC Riverside with honors as an undergraduate, leading the chancellor of the university to say "Academically, he was at the top of the top," those who worked with Holmes directly say his research work was often substandard.
In other words, he made good grades in undergraduate classes but struggled with research work and in his graduate program. So after being told for years how smart and brilliant he was, he then found out that he wasn't actually anything special.
(Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University, the author of Generation Me, and co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic).
So what’s NPD got to do with treasure hunting you ask? Well, nothing really, except should you come into contact with someone displaying the symptoms, don’t get angry with them. They need your understanding and/or referral to a specialist. Of course, some others are plainly loathsome and well deserving of a metaphorical kick in the goolies.
As the crops fall to the combines, thousands of acres of arable farmland is made ready for the Rally season - and there are some real corkers out there - on undetected farmland close to historical sites with the prospect of significant finds a real possibility with many no doubt falling into the ‘treasure’, or historically significant categories. It’s an exciting time.
It also the time of year radical arkies (the Comrades) hate most of all, simply because the quality of finds made by amateur metal detectorists outshines anything they can muster. or indeed, as they obliged to do, like treasure hunters, report them to the PAS.
Mainstream historians on the same wavelength of Britain’s army of detectorists are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospects ahead.
Without wanting this to read like an obituary, my great pal Dick Stout (who still owes me $20) has decided to hang up his treasure hunting trowel and move into semi-retirement. Though he’s not yet ready for the ‘Sunshine Home for the Ga Ga’ (though you wouldn’t think so when he’s been on the Californian Merlot), he’s staying around to annoy, ridicule, and generally extract the urine out of the ‘Red Banner Comrades,’ (the Luddites whom history left behind), the fatuous, and the Nigel Swift’s of this world. Equally I suspect, the knuckle-draggers in the hobby will come in for some deserved bile too!
He reckons he’s gonna “sit at the water’s edge” and watch the trout before making his move. Only an angler will really understand this…and as an angler, I await the lash of the viper’s tongue with relish.
Dick’s done more for the furtherance of this hobby than anyone alive, even fighting our corner in Washington, DC; he’s authored hundreds of treasure hunting articles and countless books on the subject during the three decades (and then some!) he’s been at the very pinnacle of the hobby. What he doesn’t know about the hobby and its politics, you can write on the back of a postage stamp.
He’s the Rocky Marciano of the hobby, and like my great boxing hero, retiring undefeated.
In order to assist any gormless, émigré itinerant arkies seeking employment across Eastern Europe; or dense, hidebound, archaeo-bloggers; or the terminally fatuous; warnings that some articles appearing here are ‘tongue-in-cheek,’ will NOT be issued. The editorial team believes it has a duty not to hinder anyone falling into the aforementioned taxonomies from making complete buffoons of themselves, thus providing a welcome source of mirth for the treasure hunting community.
UNESCO is now referring to shipwreck-sites as the, “world’s underwater cultural heritage,” and goes on to describe the seabed as, “the biggest museum of the world”. Underwater cultural heritage??? Huh? What dat den? Another mealy-mouthed, self-important catchphrase, posturing as some kind of a self-righteous concept I suspect. Of course, all this like much of that foisted on an unsuspecting public, is absolute utter, utter, claptrap! It must be resisted, fought, and exposed at every turn.
“Protecting our underwater heritage is extremely important and increasingly urgent as no site or shipwreck is now out of bounds for treasure hunters,” says Lyndel Prott, [You sure it’s Prott? Dick] of UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage Division. Well Lyndel, my old cocker, thank God for that! “New technologies have made deep-water wrecks easily accessible and these technologies are getting cheaper.” Indeed they are old pal; technologies funded by the treasure hunters themselves, not by (one suspects) overpaid, and underworked ivory-towered UNESCO Wallahs doing their best it appears, to keep the world’s arkies in the comfortable life-style to which they have become accustomed. Put another way, they want the private enterprise treasure hunters to fund the explorations and then move to capture the credit…no change there you might think! But, the times and ethics they are a’changin’ and UNESCO’s Luddites are being left behind as new alliances are forged.
Everyone knows that treasure hunters don’t hold a monopoly of the heritage villainy. Arguably then, putting access to priceless objects of one sort or another solely in the hands of the close-knit archaeology community amounts to a cartel and a considerable temptation for its light-fingered members; and there’s evidence aplenty of archaeological fingers being caught in the cookie jar.
Indeed, who in his right financial mind is prepared to invest in a multi-million dollar archaeological excavation of a shipwreck simply for a few coins, pottery shards, and meagre ancillary data? What about the Mary Rose, you ask. So what about the Mary Rose? Who benefitted most from that little escapade? See above!
UNESCO’s 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage was on the face of it, ordained to safeguard, all past traces, “of human existence that have been preserved in a submerged environment for at least 100 years and have a cultural, historical or archaeological character” as they hand-wringingly put it. More humbug follows to no-one’s surprise at all, and the convention prattles on that, submerged archaeological sites should be considered as heritage and should be studied without being subjected to looters or commercial exploitation. Why should they be so considered? Why shouldn’t private enterprise have a go at exploiting them for profit? Surely any right-minded person will say that it all depends on what constitutes an archaeological site and who does the designating. But the seabed as a vast underwater museum is taking things too far and a sure sign that the lunatics have taken over the asylum.
Mercifully, the convention’s proponents are not without their barrackers, with many powerful critics from the salvage industry itself who argue that adherence to the convention deprives the public from accessing their heritage, which if not brought to the surface by treasure hunting experts, many shipwrecks will succumb to natural elements.
Then again if it’s everyone’s ‘heritage,’ as the burning martyrs of archaeology never cease in wailing, then everyone has a right to search for it, whether with a metal detector or a multi-billion hi-tech treasure hunting outfit. Just so long as we pass on the contextual data of the finds al la Portable Antiquities Scheme, so much the better. Certainly UK treasure hunters have, and are, contributing far more to the academic record than ever before, and outstripping the contributions of amateur archaeologists or their field-walking brethren, and capturing the public’s imagination and enthusiasm with spectacular finds.
We have to ask the question? Can archaeology be left in the hands of…archaeology? More to the point dare we leave politically motivated archaeology with its eye on the dollar signs and eager to corner a lucrative market? Not on your life!
Cammo gear is definitely the right gear for treasure hunting, though Dick and I prefer the black ex-SAS/Navy SEAL one-piece suits with a Balaclava and a night-vision ‘scope. Nevertheless, the Detecting Diva, one Allyson Cohen, looks mighty good in her cammo gear as seen on the front cover of a UK detecting magazine, yet she amazingly came in for some derogatory remarks from certain archaeological quarters.
Look at Photo 1, which shows archaeologists seemingly pondering at an excavation somewhere in Poland. Then look at Photo 2, from the cover of Britain’s widely regarded top metal detecting magazine. Who looks the best dressed for the job in hand? The Wurzel Gummage body double in the white (?) shirt, or, the Diva? Not much of a competition is it?
Channel Five’s new ‘Billion Dollar Wreck’ series kicked-off with Odyssey Marine’s fabulous recovery of billions of dollars-worth of silver bullion from the wreck of the SS Gairsoppa, 14,000-meters down in the Atlantic, made for superb television. Gripping stuff. More follows in this great series.
It’s always a sure sign hard times are here again when a CBA Director, mounts his high horse to lay claim the moral high ground in the heritage stakes. In this instance, Mike Heyworth has thrown the toys out of the CBA’s pram by holding court without challenge on the Farming Today programme by spouting the customary, age-old, clichéd trademarks, of full-throttle CBA ‘bullshit’, aided and abetted by that paragon of so-called ‘balanced’ reporting, the good old BBC, whose programme about agricultural topics fell well short of what might be expected in the accuracy stakes.
Evidently Heyworth has the BBC where he wants them. Equally, one suspects, the opportunity to challenge Heyworth’s take on the heritage never was on Farming Today’s reporting agenda. Indeed, the BBC seems more than happy to oblige the Heyworth’s soothing foreplay, with follow-up programmes. A reprise of the famous When Harry Met Sally diner scene, can only be days away! Yes! Yes! That’s the hobby’s problem, not the CBA’s!
It was a great PR coup for Heyworth and CBA and I have to say that I would have done precisely the same given an equal chance – all’s fair in the treasure hunting vs archaeology war. UK treasure hunters and detectorists really should be under no illusion (metal detector loving Neil Oliver aside for the moment) the CBA not only wants YOUR guts but a complete ban on metal detecting rallies at best, or at worst, to have them brought firmly under their control. As the CBA’s ‘anti’ campaign moves up a gear, I’m afraid, in the absence of any defence from the hobby itself, the days of rallies under hobby rules and regulations are numbered.
Where Farming Today failed so spectacularly, and no prizes for guessing why, was that it neglected to inform farmers of the serious money to be made from allowing legal, wholesome, and family orientated metal detecting rallies on their land. Mysteriously, in a programme dedicated to farming matters, this aspect of diversification, and in accordance with the CBA’s view on such events one suspects, was very neatly sidestepped. Can Farming Today be trusted elsewhere in matters agricultural?
Hard times? You betcha…anything to persuade farmers and landowners to ‘save’ (from you!) suspected archaeological sites for the common heritage (read,‘their heritage’), whilst looking to keep archaeologists in a perpetual state of redundancy-free employment using the customary mélange of unskilled diggers, gap year teens, recuperating alcoholics, cold turkey substance abusers, or students looking for a little ‘off piste’ action in the tents back at base camp; not forgetting of course, serial thieves anxious to supply the black market in antiquities with ‘hot’ ceramics.
Whilst thousands of ordinary souls are fighting job redundancies and the fiscal hardships that come hand-in-hand with economic downturns, some in the archaeology circus secure their incomes under the guise of ‘important’ academic research; and isn’t every archaeological excavation ‘highly significant’, or, ‘totally unique,’ to use their job-saving jargon? I’ve never heard an arkie say, “Actually, this dig is not very significant, dunno why we bothered.” Have you? They get away with all this nonsense since no-one ever challenges the cost on behalf of the taxpayer.
Surely, someone in government must be aware of the great hoodwink being perpetrated on the hard working and hard-pressed taxpayer? So why not have words in the shell-like of your Member of Parliament? Better still, why not drop a line to your local National Farmers Union office and explain the about the profits to be made from metal detecting rallies which the CBA is cunningly steering farmers away from. Tell them too about the runaway success of the Portable Antiquities Scheme which it appears, the Council for British Archaeology bizarrely opposes!
Listening to the BBC’s early morning programme, ‘Farming Today’ on Radio Four, I was awoken from my slumbers to the dulcet tones of the CBA’s Director, Mike Heyworth. He was spouting the same usual CBA nonsense of thirty years ago when Henry Cleere, an old sparring partner of mine was its chief honcho. Heyworth is, readers will recall, an aficionado of the ludicrous and now discredited, Artefact Erosion Counter,a la Warsaw Wally/Heritage Harry. This fact in itself puts Heyworth’s comments, to use an archaeological metaphor, into the context of bovine scatology.
In three decades the CBA’s learned nowt; still angling for total control over farming practices and a prohibition on deep-ploughing; the outlawing of, or severe restrictions of, metal detectorists. But one of Heyworth’s comments resonated when he said that metal detector rallies needed controlling (by him and the apparatchiks presumably!) as thousands of metal detectorists can turn up at these events. Yeah, you’re right there Mikey, thousands of people who you’d love to turn up in the same numbers at your dull-as-dishwater archaeology days.
His Orwellian vision of how the countryside and the people who live in it should be administered and expressed with the implicit threat that farmers be denied money-making ventures from metal detecting rallies, simply because the CBA, a charitable non-government organisation by the way, takes umbrage, serves as a warning to all right thinking people what will happen when academics (in the loosest sense) take over.
I have to say, unsurprisingly, that I agree with those many farmers who take equal umbrage at the asinine antics of these latter day commissars who’d love nothing better than to jackboot their way across the Shires. That these metal detecting rallies are held on private land and are a private commercial agreement between two private parties is no one else’s business, and certainly not the CBA’s I would have thought.
“History may be accurate, but archaeology is precise.” Doug Scott
Reference: “Unearthed War Relics See Battle Again: Archaeologists Decry History Buffs' Digs”, by Brigid Schulte, The Washington Post, Sunday, April 16, 2006.
Sorry Doug…obviously you’ve never heard of the Artefact Erosion Counter or of those who promote it…
This from their recent update:
Odyssey Marine Exploration pioneers in the field of deep-ocean exploration, has recovered over 61 tons of silver bullion this month from a depth of nearly three miles.
This recovery of bullion from the SS Gairsoppa, a 412-foot steel-hulled British cargo ship that sank in February 1941, consists of 1,574 silver ingots weighing about 1,100 ounces each or almost 1.8 million troy ounces in total, sets a new record for the deepest and largest precious metal recovery from a shipwreck. The silver has been transported to a secure facility in the United Kingdom.
Including the silver recovered in 2012, Odyssey has now recovered 2,792 silver ingots from SS Gairsoppa or more than 99% of the insured silver reported to be aboard the Gairsoppa when she sank. Under the terms of Odyssey's contract with the UK Department for Transport, which follows standard commercial practices, Odyssey will retain 80% of the net salved value of the cargo. The contract was awarded to Odyssey following a competitive tender process.
Sources, including Lloyd's record of War Losses, indicate additional uninsured government-owned silver may have been aboard the SS Gairsoppa when she sank, but to date no uninsured silver has been located.
"This was an extremely complex recovery which was complicated by the sheer size and structure of the SS Gairsoppa as well as its depth nearly three miles below the surface of the North Atlantic," commented Greg Stemm, Odyssey's chief executive officer. "To add to the complications, the remaining insured silver was stored in a small compartment that was very difficult to access.
For more information, checkout; Odysseymarine.com
Well done Fellas!
Macedonia’s chief excavator, archaeologist Pasko Kuzman, has been arrested in connection with an investigation into the smuggling of antiquities.
“I really feel no need to "defend" my position on this or anything else, on Holcombe's "Relic Roundabout". Neither is it at all clear what I would be defending it from (Lisa McIntyre and her vision of Shangri-La?). I have access to forums, I have several blogs. Anyone who wants to learn my "position" can do so, anyone who does not can keep away. Anyone who wants to try to question my position generally does (usually though, it has to be said, by methods of the schoolyard than reasoned debate - there is no reason to think "Relic Roundabout" would be any different). Artefact collectors and their archaeologist "partners" are welcome to use the comments section of my blog to add their own thoughts. Mr Holcombe however has failed to show up so far.”
All I can suggest is that Barford, otherwise known as ‘Warsaw Wally’, straps a four-foot length 4”x2” wood to his spine to give himself some ‘backbone’. There you have it; all venom and no guts! Frit! Frit! Frit!
Now, let’s leave this ‘hero’ to wallow in his own…..faeces.
“…is quite interesting that artefact hunters, the metal detector using ones in particular, continue to deny that there is any connection between their hobby and the trade in illicitly-obtained archaeological artefacts.”
This, by Contrast, from the US Attorney Peter Tompa’s Blogsite… Cultural Property Observer…..
“Macedonia's top archaeologist is being held for suspected smuggling of ancient artifacts. In CPO's view, draconian rules against collecting and trading in artifacts are only an invitation to corruption at high levels. It's much better to have an open but regulated (not over-regulated) trade that encourages transparency, public appreciation of the past and people to people contacts collecting brings.”
Thanks to the stringent requirements of the 1996 Treasure Act which requires finders of items that may, or suspected to fall within the Act’s definition of ‘Treasure,’ then it is reasonable that metal detectorists who deliberately set out to find such objects claw back those expenses involved in the finding and subsequent reporting of those finds.
These expenses will include cost of the metal detector, fuel, subsistence, cost of batteries, business cards, even off-setting certain expenses against PAYE, especially if one sets up a part-time business as either a ‘Treasure Hunter’, or ‘Treasure Salvor.’
Initially, this will mean contacting HM Revenue and Customs and telling them what you intend doing; the name of your business, for starters. I’m uncertain of the requirements Stateside, but I suspect it’s quite similar.
At last, an adult, joined-up conversation and discussion between the two opposing factions. For the Arkies, Lisa Macintyre punches above her weight and easily went the distance with Tekkie, Dick Stout; cerebral stuff indeed, and all done without an insult or snide remark being thrown, unlike the usual intellectually-deprived inane fare, put about by Heritage Harry, or his equally fatuous minion, Warsaw Wally.
Both Lisa and Dick emerged with reputations intact, if not enhanced somewhat and perhaps with the prospect of further similar programs on the cards. Certainly the door of co-operation is now ajar. An enjoyable and thoughtful debate. Maybe, the UK could learn a thing or two from this exercise, though we’d have to have ‘proper’ arkies.
Yep…’fraid so, along with other archaeological sites too it seems, if newspaper reports are to be believed….and the culprits all got off Scot Free. So who are these heritage vandals who strike with impunity in the dead of night? Er….well…um…it’s Badgers! Yes, dear old ‘Brock’ Badger. Apparently they’ve been burrowing and making their homes in ancient burial sites on Salisbury Plain, the vast military training in southern England. So, what to do with these vandals? ‘They should they face the full force of the law,’ says Pavel Thugwitski, adding that, ‘In the glorious former Communist dominated, People’s Republic of Poland, they would have been put up on a show trial, framed as ‘capitalist bourgeois lackeys’, then, facing the full wrath of the public prosecutor, Commissar Wally Bardfordski, taken out and shot.’
Hard line heritage commissars have told Malamute Saloon that if some Badgers could be ‘turned’ and agreed to work for ‘the State’, that is, to say, betray their brother badgers to the Ruling Elite their reward could include having their scribblings turned into books, and the apparatchiks would ensure they’d be offered a luxurious dachas on the shores of the Black Sea…a la Kim Philby/George Blake, and live happily ever after.
(1) In my last Malamute Saloon I gave the impression that one P M Barford had ‘written a book’ about the history of the Early Slavs. I was wrong; I should have said, ‘committed a book…’
(2) Owing to a printer’s error, my referral to ‘all units in amateur archaeology…’ should have read, ‘all you nits in amateur archaeology…’
The Early Slavs: Culture and Society in Early Medieval Europe, by one P M Barford (Paul), is a near impenetrable turgid opus written in the now-familiar self-important style so beloved of academics limped its way into the bookstores in 2001.
In the Preface to this ostensibly trail blazing volume, Barford lauds Poland’s then governing Communist regime (aka, The People’s Republic of Poland) without whose help he breathlessly explains, the history of the Early Slavs would be that much poorer:
“… the present work is the result of a lengthy stay in what was then the People’s Republic of Poland, the Government of which was extremely generous in supporting my research, which then enabled me to take up employment at the University of Warsaw to continue my work. Let this book be in a small way part of the repayment of my debt I owe to those who helped my research.”
Barford’s glowing praise of Poland’s then totalitarian Communist rulers is both unabated and unabashed…well, they did fix him up with a job and drop him a zloty or three, as he skillfully explains;
“The original research for this book would not have been possible were it not for all of those in the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of Poland for their interest in and funding of my initial research.”
‘Interest’ and ‘funding’, eh? Now, there’s a thought. Evidently the goose-stepping Commissars had got their priorities bang on target as to be lavish enough with the zloty’s to bank-roll the emerging literary ambitions of an émigré Englishman, fresh from the West, while their ‘interest’ in, and ‘funding’ of, the indigenous population was less bountiful. He must have been quite a prize since more people were shot dead escaping from this Socialist haven than those entering it!
Herein though, it must be said, lies a certain irony; though Barford had the freedom of choice to live in totalitarian Communist Poland (and why not if you’re into food shortages and the incarceration of political prisoners?) that same freedom was rarely extended to the Poles themselves by their Communist commissars. A contradiction in terms you might think? Nah…Barford sets us straight on page seven of the Introduction;
“A historian functioning in the reign of a tyrant rarely tells us bluntly that his ruler is a bad one, in fact in the case of totalitarian regimes quite the opposite.”
I’ll bet he penned this sentiment AFTER the Commies got the boot out of Poland!
….in 2008 Council of the European Union under the Presidency of Slovenia, published a report entitled CRIMES COMMITTED BY TOTALITARIAN REGIMES, which dealt in considerable detail the horrors of everyday life under Communist rule in Eastern Europe. It was less complimentary than Barford’s appraisal of life under the Hammer and Sickle. This damning indictment of Soviet barbarity had this to say about the plight of post-war Poland under the heel of Communism…
“Hundreds of thousands of people fell victims of terror during the Communist period, despite its motto “the struggle for peace and socialist democracy”, as ironic as it may sound. Every act of rebellion against the authorities from the end of World War Two to the period of the Solidarity movement in the 1980’s ended with a new period of repression and new victims. The entire machinery of the state, including the communist judicial system, formed new chains in the system of repression and enslavement.
The leadership of the communist party shared the responsibility for all acts of the apparatus of terror, some of which fully deserve to be called crimes against humanity. The units of the Soviet Army stationed in Poland permanently from 1944 until their withdrawal in the early 1990’s served as an element of the system aimed to intimidate people.For Poland, the war, which began with the invasion of Nazi Germany and the communist USSR in September 1939, ended 50 years later – in 1989.
Mass murders and acts of terror took place across the whole of post-war Soviet-occupied Poland.
On top of that, deportations to labour camps in the USSR continued and many soldiers of the Resistance and civilians were arrested. That period is still known in Russia as “the liberation of Poland by the Red Army”, in which nearly 100,000 people were sent to Soviet labour camps or gulags as they are also known. In many cases, acts of communist terror even surpassed the bestiality and cruelty of those committed by the Nazis.
Hundreds of thousands of people fell victims of terror during the Communist period, despite its motto “the struggle for peace and socialist democracy”, as ironic as it may sound. Every act of rebellion against the authorities from the end of World War Two to the period of the Solidarity movement in the 1980’s ended with a new period of repression and new victims. The entire machinery of the state, including the communist judicial system, formed new chains in the system of repression and enslavement.
The leadership of the communist party shared the responsibility for all acts of the apparatus of terror, some of which fully deserve to be called crimes against humanity. The units of the Soviet Army stationed in Poland permanently from 1944 until their withdrawal in the early 1990’s served as an element of the system aimed to intimidate people.”
Ten years later, no-one was surprised when Barford formulated the preposterous and subsequently thoroughly discredited Artefact Erosion Counter in which, using figures and statistics hoiked from thin-air, purportedly to justify his malevolent (but intellectually barren crusade) against metal detectorists.
His strident views against private collectors and detectorists, usually framed in obnoxious terms, are so bizarre that he has become a laughing stock and is rarely taken seriously.
I’m always delighted to help any Garrett ATPro owners with the ins and outs of this superb machine, but most surprisingly I find, are the numbers of queries in the mailbox revolving around its suitability for water hunting in saltwater, or over seawater-soaked sand.
The ATPro (mine’s the International version) is one of the pre-eminent machines for in-water hunting, or, over seawater-sodden sand and shingly foreshores. The trick is to Ground Balance (GB) to the precise conditions under the searchcoil and to GB at intervals throughout your search to keep the machine ‘sharp’ and on song. This is especially important when moving from damp sand say, to waterlogged sand, or sandpools, or from a sandy matrix to a pebble/shingle foreshore. The ‘Sensitivity’ really depends on how much ‘chatter’ you can endure, though a good starting point is one segment off maximum.
On the beach I usually work in PRO Mode ‘Custom’ with Iron Reject set to ‘35’ and Iron Audio to ‘On’ which relegates steel bottle tops to history without any depth loss! This arrangement also filters all the incoming signals into ferrous and non-ferrous, and combined with the digital readout facility saves unwanted and time-wasting digging. It was with this set-up that I found the .925 silver ring (see Photo) that registered '91' in a waterlogged shingle/sand part of the foreshore. Garrett’s online magazine, The Garrett Searcher spells it out too!
To discover how the ATPro performs in freshwater there is a terrific video on the Garrett website shot by Garrett’s super snapper, the redoubtable Brian ‘Stingray’ McKenzie. ‘Stingray’? Ah, that’s another story revolving around several pints of the fine ‘hoppy’ ale, Stingray, quaffed with gusto at the Square & Compass, a fine 17C Dorset inn …I can say no more. Names have been changed to protect the guilty!
It’s a fact of life that most smaller gold rings fall into the pull-tab range of between ’53’ to ‘56’. Therefore, if it’s all rings you’re after, and it’s the smaller ones with the diamonds, you’ll have to dig the numbers previously mentioned.
When I’m in-water hunting, I’ve found the smaller 5x8 coil, the same as fitted as standard to my ATGold, works well is easier to handle, control, and pinpoint.
Whenever Wally says, ‘Jump’, Harry asks, ‘How high?’ An example of this can be seen in Wally’s latest barrel-scraping remarks posing as hard evidence and Harry’s latest and equally gormless article under the by-line of Farmer Silas: A dim-witted (but nevertheless amusing) pattern emerges. Currently Heritage Action is attacking Dr Roger Bland of the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme, and it’s a situation rather like where the know-nothing novices are criticising the Maestro. Remember too, Wally and Harry are the intellects behind the now discredited Artefact Erosion Counter, exposed here on Stout Standards as a complete sham. Sort of sums ‘em up really!
It’s all hardly surprising of course, since Wally is suffering an on-going and severe drubbing at the hands of former diplomat, Arthur Houghton, and US Attorney, Peter Tompa, on the Cultural Property Observer blog, while Harry’s intellectually arid arguments on the Heritage Action blog are regularly laid bare here on Stout Standards. Presumably, they have a burning need to vent his/their frustrations on someone, be it me, Stouty, metal detectorists in general, or Dr Roger Bland. Indeed, the recent Malamute Saloon article, Espionage & Treasure Hunting, circa 1980, added to their combined woes, which for some reason currently beyond me, really got up Wally’s snozzle. Can’t imagine why...?
The irony of the whole situation is that thanks to Stout Standards, Wally and Harry are reaching a wider audience than they could ever have hoped for, though not for the reasons they originally intended! Their combined eccentric ramblings while no threat to anyone, are worthy of greater attention if only to show the world that Democracy tolerates people who espouse this kind of nonsense, and are free to spit their poison.
When the day dawns when we no longer legally permit them to vomit their dogma in public, is the day when Society will have descended into a totalitarian abyss. As someone once said about Wally, ‘let the dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.’……….
Metal detecting/treasure hunting has come a long way since the dark days of thirty years ago when it was almost snuffed out of existence. Today, it enjoys a high and popular profile with more practitioners - many are experts in their own right - than archaeology can only dream of, and is making a colossal contribution to the recording of the heritage, is lauded by Government Ministers and far-thinking historians alike and indeed, many in the heritage sector owe their salaries and livelihoods to this amateur phenomenon.
Though opposition to the pastime has always existed, and continues from an obnoxious vocal minority, thirty years ago there was a more sinister element to the antagonism than the playground name-calling we see and hear nowadays.
Back then, an ill-fated, nationwide, anti-metal detecting campaign Stop Taking Our Past (STOP) was initiated in the early 1980’s by a loose confederation of heritage organisations, not least among them, the Council for British Archaeology (CBA). Some of these organisations when cornered blustered, “No, not me guv.” The aroma that STOP ‘protesteth too much,’ hung heavy in the air. Few on the detecting side of the argument at the time realised the source of the pong …but two individuals, failed to be hoodwinked.
Left-wing politics and theory have for many years gone hand-in-blouse with Left-leaning archaeologists, historians, and others, who hanker for the Marxist life. An early pioneer who championed the notion of ‘Marxist Archaeology’ was the Australian archaeologist, Gordon Childe. Another prominent archaeologist in 1982 even espoused the notion that all antiquities should be nationalized, and all private land taken into the public ownership. Neil Faulkener is another enthusiast; a former Features Editor of Current Archaeology; has written widely on Marxist theory and his latest book, A Marxist History of the World: from Neanderthals to Neoliberals (2013) is now on the shelves.
It eventually dawned on some in detecting lobby that the opposition to metal detecting might not be rooted in academic theory after all, but in politics, even subversion. A team of dedicated people, comprising carefully selected detectorists and others, all opposed to what STOP was trying to achieve, was formed and began a fight back where the order of the day was, ‘No Prisoners’. Shortly afterwards, came their first break.
Following discussions with a high level archaeologist one of the team realised at the meeting’s later de-briefing session, that the archaeologist had inadvertently let slip a snippet of information about the detectorist that only someone with connections to a foreign intelligence agency could have known. He knew then, his own background was under scrutiny. He even considered the possibility that supposed slip was actually an intentional, surreptitious overture to recruit him! He suspected too, that his phone was being tapped and set about releasing a few hares to see whose dogs chased them. He was not disappointed.
At the time, the STOP Campaign in full flow, with allegations that Nighthawking - the illicit or clandestine excavation with metal detectors of protected sites being – being thrown about like confetti with dire warnings that a tsunami of heritage crime was sweeping the land; unsurprisingly, this kind of propagandist nonsense was manna from heaven to archaeology’s dutiful foot soldiers who rallied enthusiastically to the ‘cause’, but only to die of humiliation on the battlefield when the STOP campaign was finally exposed as distorted and factually inaccurate.
What most of archaeology’s rank and file didn’t realise at the time, was they were being cruelly and unashamedly prostituted to assist Soviet intelligence, as some in metal detecting circles now believe given the connections between archaeology and Leftist politics. Though some STOP supporters knew which way was up; many though, were Babes-in-the-Wood types with a genuine concern but a poor grasp of the detecting facts.
By the 1970’s and early 1980’s Soviet intelligence cells and sleeper agents were active in Britain, furnished with Soviet made weapons and radio transmitters cached in ‘hides’ across the UK. This at a time when a new populist craze was sweeping the UK; Metal Detecting! Many people in the detecting lobby now believe this threat was not lost on Soviet intelligence or on their willing helpers in academia.
Indeed, one of these state-of-the-art Soviet radio ‘squirt’ transmitters was accidentally found buried on a hillside in north Wales. It was equipped with pre-set frequencies with operating instructions translated from Russian to English on attached micro-film. Britain’s Security Service (MI5) believes that the radio was the property of a British-manned Soviet subversion unit based in Liverpool.
Further MI5 enquiries revealed that six Russians posing as representatives of a Trade Delegation had previously booked into a hotel near to the find spot. Four of the six named in the hotel’s register had previously been among the 105 Soviet diplomats expelled from Britain in 1971 for activities incompatible with their diplomatic status, the official term for espionage.
The personnel of these deep-cover, sleeper subversion units, were relieved and refreshed at regular intervals by Soviet GRU intelligence officers (military intelligence), or Spetsnaz Special Forces troops, arriving at Britain’s dockyards disguised as merchant seamen. Whereas Soviet diplomats were travel limited to a 25-mile radius of London’s Soviet Embassy, no such restriction applied to Soviet Bloc non-diplomats posing as sailors coming ashore. It might be ‘Ivan’ who came down the gangplank, but it was always ‘Igor’ who returned aboard.
To secrete arms caches and radio transmitters, safe areas had to be sought, and the safest places were those that would not be tampered with, or at risk of development. The obvious choice was, some claim, protected archaeological areas. However, what Soviet intelligence failed to realise or had not reckoned with, was the upsurge and popularity of metal detecting; and the prospect of Joe Public swanning around with metal detectors across the land even straying onto protected sites or areas, did not fill them with glee.
Soon, the spectre of ‘Nighthawking’ appeared, cooked-up by an increasingly panicky lobby with metal detectorists desperately propagated as a serious threat to the heritage. The message behind it all being that the use of metal detectors had to be seriously curbed and controlled and kept well away from archaeological sites, even banned outright…not for the coins they might dig up, but to maintain the integrity of the clandestine paraphernalia of espionage tucked away ready for action.
In fact, the threat of Soviet sabotage was taken so seriously that during the early ‘80’s NATO staged the largest military exercise seen in Britain since D-Day to practice a counter to the threat posed by Soviet Spetsnaz commandos, who, as a prelude to a full-scale invasion of Britain would knock-out vital defences such as the early-warning system at Fylingdales in Yorkshire. The elite Special Air Service Regiment acted out the role of the Soviet Spetsnaz Special Forces.
During this same period, Soviet intelligence was already under way on its ‘March through the Institutions’ to infiltrate every aspect of British life and to recruit willing agents of influence prepared to promote the cause of Communism and betray their country. Subsequent arrests of traitorous MP’s, civil servants and others, proved the case. It was estimated that at one point, Britain’s socialist, Labour Party had over 100 of its Members of Parliament on the Soviet’s payroll. Some notable high profile scalps fell to MI5, including MP, John Stonehouse.
It is then, against this background that some people on the metal detecting/treasure hunting side of the fence firmly believe that STOP was ruthlessly used in an attempt to bring swingeing changes to the heritage laws; though the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, slipped under the radar with just a handful of MP’s in the House at the time it passed into law on the last session of parliament. The Act prohibits the use of metal detectors in protected areas, and rightly so, but it is perhaps, a lasting (and unintentional testament) to the influence of Soviet intelligence.
So, in the three decades since STOP, have attitudes changed? Certainly the CBA’s stance hasn’t, judging from recent comments. While their attitudes remain stuck in the 1980’s, we now have the ever-burgeoning Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) under the very able Dr Roger Bland at the British Museum, specifically set up to deal with artefacts found by members of the British public, the overwhelming majority of whom are metal detectorists and treasure hunters.
We as a hobby here in the UK have moved on to greater things…archaeology generally remains axle deep and stuck fast. For the Americans, STOP is resonating in some areas though the cause is unaffected by espionage… partly by unopposed spiteful, obnoxious, sometimes ill-informed opinion formers, but mostly by heritage professionals who fear YOU and your successes.
Now the fight is yours to be won, and you may well be losing ground already – not because you ain’t collectively smart enough…but through collective apathy.
Well they made it. The £30-million Mary Rose Museum finally opened in Portsmouth, England, on the 30th May 2013, to house the remains of King Henry VIII’s prized warship that sank in the waters of The Solent in 1545 before his very eyes. Nevertheless, the Mary Rose has its share of critics who see too many unexplained loose ends flapping about. Successive governments they say, amongst other things, have all been more than a little coy about the Museums’ funding.
In their opinion, the Mary Rose should never have been in receipt of public money in the first place; it being a private amateur enterprise subsequently hi-jacked by heritage professionals who perhaps saw the venture as a long-term, main chance, employment opportunity. Even the national press had latched on to this aspect with one piece entitled, “The wreck of the Mary Rose team.”
Hi-jacked or not, what they consider controversial are certain aspects of the Mary Rose's fudning and grant aid. To support this view they cite the Mary Rose’s designation in 1973 as a ‘protected wreck’ which they claim, disqualified it from public funding. The Ancient Monuments & Archaeological Areas Act 1979 (AM&AAA), spells out the situation. Public funding or grant-aid made under this Act is strictly defined and limited to what it defines as “Monuments”.
Under this Act, “Monument" means (subject to subsection (8) below) —.
(a) any building, structure or work, whether above or below the surface of the land, and any cave or excavation;
(b) any site comprising the remains of any such building, structure or work or of any cave or excavation; and
(c) any site comprising, or comprising the remains of, any vehicle, vessel, aircraft or other movable structure or part thereof which neither constitutes nor forms part of any work which is a monument within paragraph (a) above; and any machinery attached to a monument shall be regarded as part of the monument if it could not be detached without being dismantled.
(8) Subsection (7) (a) above does not apply to any ecclesiastical building for the time being used for ecclesiastical purposes, and subsection (7) (c) above does not apply —
(a) to a site comprising any object or its remains unless the situation of that object or its remains in that particular site is a matter of public interest;>[?
(b) to a site comprising, or comprising the remains of, any vessel which is protected by an order under Section 1 of the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 designating an area round the site as a restricted area.[My highlights]
In 1973, the Mary Rose was the second wreck to be designated under this Act...
Thus, it’s not hard to understand how some contemporary commentators argued that the government of the day allegedly acted illegally by donating funds (totaling £100,000), a sum matching that given by the ultra-shady, American billionaire philanthropist, Armand Hammer, who set out the terms that his loan of £100K need not be repaid if the Mary Rose raised an equal amount. However, when the £100,000 promised to the Mary Rose, allegedly from the £45-million haul of gold bullion salvaged from the light cruiser, HMS Edinburgh, scuttled in the Barents Sea in 1942, failed to materialize, the manure collided with the air-conditioning.
With professional fees totaling some £112K and being called-in by the professionals whose various expertise had been used to draw up plans for the design and construction of the structure to house the 15th Century warship, and with the prospect Hammer’s loan conditions unlikely to be met, a £212K shortfall loomed large.
The waters were muddied still further with the widely unknown fact that Britain’s Security Service (MI5) held a bulky file on Armand Hammer, a Soviet KGB ‘agent of influence’. Apart from the dire fiscal situation facing the Mary Rose, another awful prospect loomed: The future King of England - the Prince of Wales - and President of the Mary Rose Trust, faced the uncomfortable prospect of seeing the Trust in hock to a Soviet KGB agent. Indeed, why was HRH not warned about Hammer’s intelligence connections?
Some conspiracy theorists even suggest - something I find hard to believe – that Hammer’s £250K offer was a carefully contrived KGB plot to have HRH, via the Mary Rose Trust, gripped by the short and curlies and following the anarchist's dictum that, when you’ve got ‘em by the balls their hearts and minds will follow.
With the prospect of insolvency fast approaching, they claim, so too was a potentially disastrous public relations scenario. HRH The Prince of Wales, had allegedly, been promised £100K from the 1982 salvage operation to recover HMS Edinburgh’s gold bullion. Interestingly, the salvor of the gold bullion, Keith Jessop, had allegedly offered to donate £100K to an unspecified ‘marine charity’ as part of his sealed bid to win the salvage contract from HM Government and the Salvage Association. He won the contract much to the chagrin of other, larger salvage companies, some of whom regarded Jessop Marine as little more than underwater scrap metal merchants.
On 30th August, 1981 the dive-support vessel Stephaniturm set out for HMS Edinburgh’s wreck site in the Barents Sea. By the 15th September, Jessop’s team had finally penetrated the bomb room where the gold bullion was stored and recovered the first of the gold ingots.
In the event, 431 of 465 ingots aboard were recovered. In 1986, twenty-nine further ingots were recovered bringing the total to 460, leaving five unaccounted for. Indeed, some of the Soviet officials aboard the Stephaniturm were undoubtedly KGB officers, and aboard at the Soviet’s insistence as observers, seeing as Britain and Russia would take the lion’s share of the spoils. Was Hammer tipped-off by the on-board Soviets about Jessop’s reneging on the alleged gold bar donation? Perhaps.
Many questions still need answers, not least billionaire Armand Hammer’s involvement in the Mary Rose’s funding. Primary among these is whether the alleged 'marine charity' allegedly in Jessop's salvage bid was indeed the Mary Rose?
That the Mary Rose was listed as a protected wreck on the List of Protected Wrecks in 1974, (which on paper at least excluded it from grant-aid), raised a few eyebrows in many quarters, when 100K of public money dropped into its lap, just at the time it faced fiscal meltdown.
Nevertheless, the government seems to have a grant-aid ‘ace’ up its sleeve, by virtue of an ambiguously worded section of the AM&AAA, which critics say, is so airy-fairy it could easily have been interpreted to wrench the Mary Rose out of Armand Hammer’s fiscal clutches by enabling a grant:
(1)The Secretary of State may undertake, or assist in, or defray or contribute towards the cost of, an archaeological investigation of any land which he considers may contain an ancient monument or anything else of archaeological or historical interest.
That, you might think, is that…job done and dusted. But the bitter tang of revenge hangs in the air some say. More I suspect, simply happenstance.
Nonetheless, a series of bizarre coincidences dogged some of the main players. A contemporary note in the London Times ‘Diary’ column, posed the question whether Prince Charles had put the royal boot in when he described the prize-winning blueprint for the Hampton Extension to London’s National Gallery, as looking like “a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend.” Is there a Mary Rose connection to this insult?
By another sheer co-incidence, Peter Ahrends, of the internationally respected architectural firm, Ahrends, Burton and Koralek (ABK), the same firm who asked no payment for their part in the design of the original Mary Rose museum Portsmouth Dockyard, just happened to be the National Gallery’s Hampton Extension’s architect! English Heritage says this on its website; “ABK's victory in the prestigious 1982 competition for an extension to the National Gallery in London reflected the firm's standing but the scheme was abandoned following a controversial intervention by the Prince of Wales.” Hmmmmm!
Whilst archaeologists involved in the Mary Rose’s excavation are amazed - and never cease sharing their astonishment - that the bodies of nits are present in wooden and bone combs belonging to the crew, they fail to answer the whereabouts of the heavyweight leaden chest containing the hundreds of hammered silver and gold coins representing the daily pay of the 700 officers and men (now mysteriously reduced to 500). In those days, crews were paid daily and the Mary Rose was victualed for ten days at sea: 700 x 10 = 70,000 coins minimum!
Neither has the heavy gold chain with its gold bosun’s whistle (weighing some four pounds in total) presented to the Mary Rose’s captain by Henry VIII at a banquet the night before she sailed from Portsmouth, ever come to light. According to one archaeological account at the time…”It must have floated away in the current”. Yes! Yes! Of course, that’s it! Not being an expert on the vagaries of the Solent’s powerful tides, perhaps the chest and chain really did wash away heavy lead chests and heavy gold chains, whilst lightweight combs remain unaffected.
Aftermath…and another kicking?
Keith Jessop, died on May 22nd aged 77.
In his Obituary, on the 25th May 2010, The Daily Telegraph wrote… “The British and Soviet governments took the lion's share, but Jessop's personal cut came to about £2 million. His moment of triumph, however, was soon soured. In a newspaper article article, and then in a book, a writer who had accompanied the Edinburgh recovery claimed that the divers had desecrated the War Grave – a charge that, as a proud ex-Royal Marine, Jessop found particularly offensive – and that an official of the Salvage Association had been bribed to secure the contract.
Jessop sued for libel; the book was pulped, he accepted an out-of-court settlement and was awarded costs.
The police investigated the allegations and concluded that there was no case to answer. But the DPP overruled them, and in 1984 Jessop went on trial at the Old Bailey charged with conspiring to contravene Section Two of the Official Secrets Act and with conspiracy to defraud the unsuccessful bidders for the Edinburgh contract. The prosecution case collapsed and Jessop was acquitted on all charges, but his reputation had been tarnished.”
As he often said: "I can deal with the sharks in the water. It's the ones in pinstripe suits on dry land that I have problems with."
Armand Hammer died, December 10th 1990, Los Angeles, California, aged 92, not universally esteemed.
The teeny-boppers over at Heritage Action reckoned that Wales’ Portable Antiquities Scheme was awash with money, though a direct enquiry, unsurprisingly, presents a different picture. “The National Museums of Wales,” they whine, “Have just proposed a restructuring programme to save £2.5m, with 23 job losses.” But then displaying the eloquence for they are famed, they go on to report, “Quite right” snorted the NCMD spokespig, “We have to prioritise spending.”
Is it hardly surprising that Heritage Action’s Chairman, Nigel Swift (aka, Heritage Harry) allegedly lives in constant fear of a pat in the kisser? Bet he wouldn’t have said that face-to-face with any NCMD Council member, not that I’m here to fight National Council’s corner; just to highlight the quality of ill-mannered pond life with which we co-exist.
Archaeologist James Vessey, 35, was working on an excavation site in the City of Bath in 2008 from where he stole three Bellarmine vases uncovered during the excavations. The vases dating from the mid-1600’s later mysteriously vanished from the site before they could be sent to his employers, the Museum of London, for analysis.
However, in 2012, an eagle-eyed archaeologist spotted one of the vases for sale on eBay. Vessey was given a four-month suspended sentence by Bath magistrates and ordered to do 270 hours unpaid community service.
The magistrate’s court heard that Vessey had a history of stealing artefacts from excavations and had previously served a 15-month jail term in 2001 for theft. (read the Daily Mail article here)
What I find extraordinary is that Vessey, a convicted serial thief of archaeological artefacts and valuables, was only given a suspended sentence! What sort of message is this sending out to other archaeologists tempted to augment salaries with the odd tax-free bonus? Indeed, when in the past I have suggested on the Malamute Saloon that it really is the arkies who are feeding the ceramics market Warsaw Wally and his UK pal, Heritage Harry, simply pooh-poohed it!
Now boys, how do you like yer eggs boiled?
Seems to me the ‘Thoughts of Chairman Wally’ are becoming increasingly like the animal excrement that litters our pavements (sidewalks) and however one navigates the by-ways and highways, it’s difficult to avoid.
However, whilst I go to extreme lengths to extract the urine out this nonentity, others, mainly academics, take him more earnestly by suggesting Wally’s general heritage argument is 'intellectually impoverished', with one commenter devastatingly describing him thus;"Fellows like this, people of many words and little distinction, don't read very well and tend to entangle themselves in a morass of illogic of their own making. It is predictable, and laughable. And worth ignoring. The dogs may bark, but the caravan moves on."
It’s not hard to understand Wally’s frenzied efforts to gain a foothold on the upward slope of credibility. He knows full well, as do the rest of us, that he's of 'little distinction' and rarely up to our level. Now, being gradually eliminated from prominent blogs, his venom is largely and impotently limited to his own, lonely, cerebrally arid blog.
He is not, and never has been, any threat to this hobby nor to private collecting...
Nothing warms the cockles of a treasure hunters’ heart (like mine) more than a torque, especially a Celtic one, and they often turn up on roman sites dating from 100 to 200 AD.
The Treasure Act says: any object other than a coin provided that at least 10 per cent by weight of metal is precious metal (that is, gold or silver) and that it is at least 300 years old when found. In the case of metallic objects, other than coins, of prehistoric date containing less than 10 per cent of precious metal by weight of metal (they may be entirely composed of base metal, for example) there must be at least two such metallic objects from the ‘same find’
Expect high prices and demand the best prices from the Valuation Committee, and always have legal representation. Perhaps we should be looking at some kind of insurance scheme, similar to that for car drivers, to provide legal representation for such treasure eventualities.
Just a thought!
It’s quite extraordinary. The number of people I stop and chat with while treasure hunting along the miles of gold sands hereabouts. The conversation usually kick-off with, “Found any treasure? I’ve always fancied buying one of those [pointing at my ATPro metal detector]. Seems a great hobby.”
Then as the conversation deepens it soon transpires that though they are interested in history all they really want to do is their own thing and want no truck with amateur archaeology groups saying attitudes of these range from being too middle-class/bossy/Leftie/. Can’t say I disagree with them there I have to say, but what’s most surprising is the amount of goodwill that exists ‘out there’ for our hobby of the kind archaeology per se would kill for!
One elderly couple I bumped into recently and spent some time with explaining the ins and outs of the hobby, its hardware and the PAS, were captivated. It turned out they were Cotswolds sheep farmers and ….”We think there’s a Roman Villa in one of our fields”…the end result? I am looking forward to a few summer days hunting in rural Gloucestershire.
Once upon a time…..
“I regret that it appears to be a minority of metal detectorists who follow the Code of Practice.” Who says so? Mike Heyworth says so, and he’s the Drum-Banger-in-Chief at the Council for British Archaeology. Of course there’s no proof to back his shameful claim which follows closely the CBA’s apparent dictum of ‘Guilty’ until proven ‘Innocent’, but given his staggering approval of the heavily discredited and whacky Artefact Erosion Counter, it’s not hard to fathom why some of his fellow excavators might think it unfair that his views be curbed by anything approaching accuracy. He certainly aligns the CBA alongside the Brothers Grimm when it comes to fiction.
Yet, oddly, as part of his Council’s nationwide recruiting bash, they are encouraging this mythical minority of detectorists to attend a special series of two days of finds’ identification; one to be held in Dorset, and the other in Cambridgeshire. Presumably, they’ll all be regarded as being in the majority and have to fill-in forms, or provide other evidence to prove otherwise?
I rather suspect that at the end of the day, someone will tot-up the number of finds brought in, then multiply this figure by 100, which will be tapped into the disgraced Artefact Erosion Counter in an attempt to breathe the air of credibility into this now near-totally deflated blimp. Then, HEY PRESTO! ‘Evidence’ of malpractice appears and Warsaw Wally’s off on one of his crusades!
Don’t be fooled by the CBA. Whereas they never stop claiming that accuracy is their guiding light, events clearly show collective amnesia sets in when presenting any ‘facts and figures’ about metal detecting. Some of our more vocal opponents bellyache (read Sixth-Form/teenage angst, ’It’s Sooo unfair, innit!’) that metal detecting is all about private collecting. Well yes, in my view, it certainly is; there’s nothing wrong with private collecting or dealing in antiquities in way, shape, or form. Archaeology on the other hand, might well be described as ‘institutionalized collecting’, shrouded in mystery by its disciples, but having the added bonus of keeping them well paid from the public purse, bursaries, and grant aid. After all, you never see an arkie on a bicycle.
Maybe the CBA’s jamboree ought to be renamed, the Carnival of Institutionalised Collecting and Jobs for Life? As a matter of fact, the PAS also applies to archaeologists too, from professionals (as in, they get paid, not as a measure of excellence) through to rank amateurs, and every shade of incompetence in-between. To paraphrase Mike Heyworth, “I regret that it appears to be a minority of archaeologists who follow the PAS.”
And they all lived unhappily ever after….
Loathe as I am to mention the his name, Paul Barford, an Englishman (?) living in Warsaw, Poland, recently commented on his near unintelligible blog regarding the recovery of allegedly stolen items, comments which, even by his standards of obnoxiousness and odd grammar, plumbed new depths awfulness.
It seems that police recovered over 900 allegedly looted artefacts from an address in Norfolk that had, allegedly, been illegally dug in Ireland over a period of a few years. Whilst everyone and anyone connected with the heritage welcomes the move, and presumably heavy penalties on conviction for those responsible for the theft, what do we get from Barford?
"Blooming stupid, isn't it, that one side of a line on a map they look after the buried heritage, while the other side of the line, in the same group of islands off the coast of Europe, they do not. The English always look(ed) down on the Irish, but here's at least one area where the Irish have surpassed their backward insular neighbors."
Had Irish heritage protection been so adept at protecting their heritage as Barford suggests, then presumably they slipped up with this case of theft that spanned several years. Then he lets his prejudices slip. In a supreme act of arrogance, with his self-importance showing no bounds, he now takes it upon himself to speak for the entire English race in that the English, “always look(ed) down on the Irish..." No, Barford, I doubt we do or ever have, and it's especially nauseating, though unsurprising, that you with your trademark superciliousness take it upon yourself to claim the English are racists.
Presumably Barford prefers to scratch a living in Poland because he finds the English, "backward," and "insular," (that must look good on his cv). What the Poles must think of him, I cannot imagine. What I think of him, I’m forbidden to print! The longer we English maintain the status quo that he finds so unpalatable, then the longer he will continue to be a stranger to these shores.
A Treasure Hunter, having helped on an archaeological dig, goes up to the crusty old Excavation Director, who is renowned for his razor-sharp, archaeological mind.
Treasure Hunter: "Sir, do you really understand everything about this subject?"
Excavation Director: “Actually, I probably do. Otherwise I wouldn't be an Excavation Director, would I?"
Treasure Hunter: "OK. So I’d like to ask you a question. If you can’t give me the correct answer, will you let me keep those gold coins I unearthed for you?”
Excavation Director: "Hmmmm, well…alright. So what’s the question?"
Treasure Hunter: "What is legal but not logical, logical but not legal, and neither logical nor legal?”
The Excavation Director wracks his famous brain, but just can't crack the answer. He continues to wrack his brain all afternoon, but still can’t get the answer.
So finally he calls in a group of his brightest student excavators and tells them he has a really, really tough question to answer: "What is legal but not logical, logical but not legal, and neither logical nor legal?"
To the Excavation Director's surprise (and embarrassment), all the students immediately raise their hands.
"All right" says the Excavation Director, pointing to one of his students, “Tell us your answer.”
"It's quite easy, Sir" says the brightest student, "You see, you are 75 years old and married to a 30 year old woman, which is legal, but not logical. Your wife has a young lover, which is logical, but not legal. And your wife's lover is that bastard treasure hunter who you’ve just let walk off with £10,000-worth of Celtic gold coins, which is neither logical nor legal."
Mud Men (series 1) about detectorists hunting for coins and relics on the Thames Foreshore, was the HISTORY CHANNEL’s highest rating UK commission and commended as 'Best Popular Factual Programme' at the Broadcast Digital Awards in May 2011.....
The United Nations defines Human Rights thus: the "basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled." Examples of rights and freedoms which are often thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; and social, cultural and economic rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, the right to work, and the right to education.
The former Soviet Union’s notion of human rights (including its East European satellite states) was vastly different from those in the West where, "It is the individual who is the beneficiary of human rights which are to be asserted against the government.” Within the Soviet Bloc, emphasis was placed on economic and social rights such as access to health care, adequate nutrition, education at all levels, and guaranteed employment.
So who on earth, apart from about- to-be-‘blown’ intelligence operatives, spies, high-level defectors, failed academics, assorted loonies, nd dyed-in-the-wool communists, would want to live under such conditions? It’s a puzzle isn’t it, that as late as 1986, some westerners still migrated east through the Iron Curtain for a life in this Socialist Utopia.
I recently turned up this piece of high fashion on a local beach (ATPro International, 4.5-inch ‘Super Sniper’ coil). Ugly or what? I’d hate to bump into the lady who thought this was chic gear especially at night in a downtown alley!
The following is taken from the Portable Antiquities website:
The Portable Antiquities Scheme receives Heritage Lottery Fund first-round pass for project to expand its volunteer base
Tuesday 2nd April 2013 Author: Claire Costin
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) a first-round pass*, including development funding of £17,600, for a project to greatly enhance its volunteer programme nationwide.
The aim of the project is to create Community Finds Recording Teams by recruiting and training new volunteers from local communities around England and Wales. These teams will work with their regional Find Liaison Officers (FLO) to record local finds onto the PAS database. They will also promote the activities of the PAS to new audiences in their areas, and recruit others to volunteer with the PAS and engage deeply with the history and archaeology of their local areas.
The project will lead to new data being generated for the PAS website, and dedicated project staff will monitor the information recorded to ensure it is of a high standard to all who need it. As part of the project a new section of the PAS website will be developed, which will be devoted to the work of the Community Finds Recording Teams and to the history and archaeology of their local areas.
Development of the project will start in April 2013, working towards a round two submission to HLF in order to receive a final decision on funding. If successful, the project will run for five years.
This new PAS project is one of a number of initiatives at the British Museum supported by HLF, including the Future Curators training scheme and the World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre. The Museum is extremely grateful for this continued support, and looks forward to working with HLF in developing its PAS second-round application.
Sue Bowers, Head of HLF London, said:
"The Heritage Lottery Fund is pleased to be giving initial support towards this project, which if successful will greatly enhance the important work that the Portable Antiquities Scheme provides across the UK. We are looking forward to working closely with the British Museum as they develop their proposals further."
Naturally, none of this will go down well with archaeology’s inconsequential ‘Luddite faction,’ or with those posing as archaeologists for cosmetic reasons I suspect.
An archaeologist and a treasure hunter were sitting in the barbershop. They were both just finishing being shaved when the barbers reached for some after-shave to slap on their faces.
The archaeologist shouted haughtily…”I say, don’t put that cheap stuff on me! My wife will think I've been in a whorehouse!”
The treasure hunter turned to his barber and said…”Go ahead pal, my wife doesn't know what the inside of a whorehouse smells like.”
On May 1st my treasure hunting habits changed somewhat, in that I fitted a 4.5-inch ‘Super Sniper’ coil to my ATPro International, where it will remain until the end of August. Why? One too many glasses of electric soup you might think, but no, it’s all in the interests of targeting the low-hanging fruit, as managerial-speak has it. We (that’s ‘Ole Jack Dey and me) are conducting a little research on local beaches.
During the summer months on our early morning beach raids he’ll be using his ATPro with the 8x11 standard coil and I’m going to work the trash-filled, BBQ and picnic set-aside areas with the ‘Sniper’ just to discover the finds ratio and whether or not junky areas are worth the investment of a small coil. Garrett’s Steve Moore is aiding and abetting the endeavour, and he’ll be getting the results in the form a write-up for the Garrett SEARCHER magazine. Part One of this experiment has already hit the news wires.
Unofficially, just between you and me so don’t let this go any further, I actually fitted the ‘Sniper’ a couple of days before the end of April, and headed ut to a known section of coastline (to me at least) that regularly throws up and does the biz with older finds following the right combinations of tide and winds.
Winkling the ‘Sniper’ through the assorted garbage, foil and pull-tabs, several copper pennies came blinking into the first daylight they’d seen in over one hundred years, ranging from ‘Young Head’ Victoria through to George V. Then up came the second of the ‘big silvers’ I’ve coaxed out from hereabouts; a near jet black solid silver (.925) 1917 Half Crown piece that eventually polished-up and sparkled like a new shilling up a chimney-sweep’s rectum. Oddly, it shared space in the scoop with a modern £1-coin! But, still no old gold…yet!
Three men are sitting stiffly, side by side, on a long-haul commercial flight. After they're airborne and the plane has levelled off, the man in the window seat turns to the other two and in an abrupt, superior, upper-class English manner, announces loudly, “Eton and Oxford. Archaeologist. Retired. Married, two sons, both surgeons.”
A few minutes later, the man in the aisle seat states through a tight lipped smile, and with the same superior air…“Harrow and Cambridge. Archaeologist also retired. Married, two sons, both High Court Judges.”
After some thought, the fellow in the centre seat decides to introduce himself. With a twinkle in his eye he proclaims…“The Bronx. Treasure hunter. ulti-millionaire. Still working. Never married. Two sons… both archaeologists.”
“Germany's highest regulatory court has ruled that coins in trade will not be treated as archaeological objects requiring an export permit under EU law. he court said that because they are objects created in quantity, they have lost any archaeological value, and to require export permits for them would put an unreasonable restraint on trade. The decision in its entirety can be read here.
UPDATE 5/4/13: Not surprisingly, archaeo-blogger Paul Barford is in denial about the implications of Court's ruling and has even implied the court's decision-making was corrupted by "commercial interests." As to the former, I think a well known numismatist said it best:
Of course Mr. Barford is in denial of the court's actual ruling: “coins coming from Antiquity generally have no archaeological value and thus are not archaeological objects”. It doesn’t come much clearer than that. Nor is this “the Bavarian judiciary” as Mr. Barford would like to believe; it is the supreme court of Germany for cases involving customs and taxes.
As to the latter, I think Mr. Barford should compare what Transparency International says about Germany and places whose views of cultural property matters he champions, like Greece, Cyprus, Italy and China.”
Of course, Barford disagrees…surprise, surprise!
Peter Tompa has collected ancient coins for thirty years. He has written and lectured about cultural property issues for a decade. He is a contributor to a chapter on numismatics in K. Fitz Gibbon ed., "Who Owns the Past?" (Rutgers 2005). He has lobbied members of the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch in an effort to ensure that the small businesses of the numismatic trade receive fair treatment from federal regulators. H e currently serves as a board member of the Cultural Policy Research Institute and the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild. He also has been a vice-chair of the American Bar Association's Art & Cultural Heritage Law Committee. His advocacy has received notice in the media, including the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Art Newspaper and the Voice of America. He hopes his views as a collector and lawyer will provide a counterpoint to the "archaeology over all" perspective found in most blogs about cultural property issues.
“Well?” snarled an unpopular Finds Liaison Officer to a bewildered detectorist waiting in line at a Treasure Rally to have his finds identified…”I suppose can’t wait for the likes of me to die, eh, just so you can come and piss on my grave.”
“Certainly not,” the detectorist replied. “Once I get out of here, I'm never going to stand in a line again!”
Dick Stout’s got more front than Atlantic City. I’ve known him since the time the Dead Sea first went sick, and for years now, I have worked, nay slaved, to supply him with suitable, eloquent copy for his blog, and what do I get in return? Henry Hall’s brother….F**k Hall! Not even a sniff of single malt, let alone a beer. Jeez! I mean, I’ve seen Halle’s Comet more times than I’ve seen the inside of his wallet. I remember one time in a bar in AC, Cliff Stefens stood a round, I stood a round, and Ricardo, well he just stood around!
I did some research on him recently and discovered the name ‘Stout’ originates from the Anglo-Saxon, dating from the 9th Century meaning, generous, likeable, lavish with ale, and loyal to friends. ‘Dick’ (or Richard, or Ricardo) comes from the Norman patois of 11th Century Gaul (modern day France) and was brought to England with William the Conqueror in 1066AD, and roughly translated means…Not Very.
I really can’t fathom how the fragrant Fay puts up with him. I recall when I visited the States some years ago and fell into his clutches when he gave me the now-famous tour of New York with its three Empire State Buildings, two Brooklyn Bridges and three Central Parks, he leaned out of the car and asked a New York Cab Driver…”Hey, do you know the Noo Josiey toyn-off?”
“Sure” the Cabbie shrugged, “I married her!” Oh, I thought, this is gonna be some kinda trip.
Some days later at a drinks party in a Condo in AC I bumped into Cliff Stefens, bumped into Harry Bodofski, stepped over Dick Stout, bumped into Archie Ray…I mean the guy’s on another planet…he even thinks Manual Labor is an illegal Mexican gardener….and a Royal Enfield is where the Queen keeps her chickens! Sheesh!
A couple of years later he stepped foot on this Sceptered Isle (or should that be Septic?). All I can say is, thank Jesus they got Independence. I take him to the Mayfly, arguable the finest hostelry in these Islands where the finest ales are purveyed and spend hours not to mention loadsacash, trying to wean him off that vile American habit of drinking ice-cold gnat’s piss and onto real ale. It cost me a small fortune, and it was only then I realised this guy wasn’t as cabbage as he looked. I poured him, into my car for the journey home. Fay, as ever, was perfection; cool, calm, sophisticated and elegant. Opposites attract!
Stouty though is an enigma. For all his faults (his love of cold beer, so-so wine, just to name a few), he has been my great friend for over twenty-five years. If this hobby had ten more like him, with his drive and zeal, metal detecting would be compulsory across the globe. He’s a bloody good editor too, and a great calming influence on me, knowing my ‘love’ for the reptiles who’d put us out of business at the drop of hat.
All success to Stout Standards for the future, and long may he and it continue to shred the propaganda spewing forth from, unfortunately, the UK and Poland.
We’ve had some successes along the way but the drubbing of the Artefact Erosion Counter must surely rank as one of his high points. Stout Standards under Dick’s careful eye has been a rallying point for many worthy causes and we all owe him a huge debt of gratitude. Well done mate!
Now can I have that bloody $20 you owe me?
For years I have been saying arkies are bigger despoilers of the heritage that any other faction, and far worse, their specialised vandalism is greater than even the most dedicated of thieving nighthawks could ever do…and now, I have the proof.
Remarkably, the suppliers of this devastating information is no less than my old sparring partners, Heritage Action, the UK group of archaeological holier-than-thou extremists, who are at pains to lay all the heritage ills at metal detecting’s door. This is the same bunch who detest the awesome success of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS).
To find this information, simply type ‘Heritage Action’ into your search engine and scroll down to ‘Caerau Hillfort: Part 8 – So, it seems Time Team are coming.’
There in all its glory you’ll see the mechanical digger ripping the guts out of the layers and dumping the spoil alongside the trench with all stratification evidence in ruins. These are the same layers in which we as treasure hunters find coins from the 1500’s upwards to modern times, and report to our local Finds Liaisons Officers, but these vandals have no respect or thought for ‘modern’ casual losses, dumping them like so much rubbish, and their contexts, in rough trenchside heaps. Read and inwardly digest. Never again take any shit from an arkie!
Now you know why I demand arkies, especially amateurs, or those being handsomely paid to produce television dross, being severely controlled. What you see on the Heritage Action blog is vandalism in action. Remember it, and refer to it, when next harangued by these heritage yobbos. Time Team? More like slime team.
How can this be in the public interest? Well it’s not, as anyone with a modicum of common sense can see, but I suspect of the boys at Heritage Action don’t care either way, and I further suspect many have huge erections at the mere sight of that digger smashing its way through OUR layers!
Many of you reading this, chiefly those on UK side of The Pond, are either thieving artefacts, mistreating them, or not reporting them in the way the gobby lobby at Heritage Action wants you to deal with them. It’s a bit like the UK’s Test and County Cricket Board laying down the law as to how Baseball should be played in the States! Utter bollocks!
What follows is pure Joseph Goebbels; look away now if you’re of a nervous disposition or easily roused to anger:
“… 99.5% of finds are NOT Treasure items and the majority of them don’t get reported to PAS….when 99% of detectorists treat 99% of finds responsibly the bashing will miraculously stop.” (posted on Heritage Action’s blog 8/01/2013).
On the face of it, to the casual observer these are disturbing figures, something the promoters of this nonsense heavily rely on. However, once under the microscope, a vastly different picture emerges. Accuracy and Heritage Action go together like oil and water and they’ve got form in this respect too….remember AEC, Ho! Ho! It’s only then do you begin to delve deeper into what they are trying to pass off as kosher data do you realise the acreage of the Kingdom of Inaccuracy over which these chumps preside.
For example, they would have the world believe that 247,500 detectorists, that’s 99% of them, have failed to report 841,000 artefacts (that’s 99% of ‘finds’) to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). Currently, official PAS figures show that 858,000 artefacts found by detectorists are currently logged on their database and its’ only when you put Heritage Action’s ‘figures’ under the microscope that you begin to realise the scale of the propagandist nonsense for which they are now famous and have made their own.
The only reason for pushing this dross especially considering their sniffy we-are-archaeologists-so-we’re-more-accurate-than-thou attitude must surely have its roots in blind prejudice, disinformation, and elitism; but it’s no excuse at all. What makes it all worse still, is that some of dross pushers are PhD’s and say nothing.
Be under no illusion; though they are often seen as being a bit on the freaky or spooky side, these people are your enemy, belonging to that anarchic wing of archaeology campaigning to have you outlawed, or, brought under their direct control.
More to the point, as they are willing to publish inaccuracies of this scale posing as facts, what reliability, you may justifiably ask, can be put on any of Heritage Action’s other work, stats or data?
I suggest…NONE! We’re on their case!
Paul Barford’s latest stunt at UCS makes the Charge of the Light Brigade look like a model of military strategy and a gallant success. To be fair though, elevating Barford to the same plane as the ‘Gallant 600’ is I have to admit, taking even my level of piss-taking a bit far! Nonetheless, I’m sure even he will admit that his crusading zeal at the University Campus Ipswich, was an even greater unalloyed shambles.
Even taking into consideration the dearth of interest he commands, only twenty, yes only twenty, out of the UK’s population of 60-million summoned-up enough interest to turn up to hear this self-proclaimed itinerant arkie/translator spew forth his venom against the magnificent contributions metal detectorists are making in the knowledge of our common heritage.
I’m afraid to say that Paul Barford has run his course…he’s a busted flush…devoid of facts - like his now discredited Artefact Erosion Counter.
I doubt even the CBA will reach into the cess-pit to pull him free. Let’s leave him where he belongs and get on with treasure hunting. I’m wondering whether he has a profitable future as a children’s entertainer, or, perhaps even, a clown?
Look out…he’s behind you!
This from the Council for British Archaeology’s website with regard to training….
“The Training Online Resource Centre (TORC) is an information service for anyone interested in courses and training in archaeology, from GCSE and A Level courses through to specialised training for professional archaeologists.” Ah, I see, accuracy in archaeology is everything. Right? Well…umm….not quite…
This in a letter to me from the CBA’s Director, Dr Mike Heyworth…
“The HA Artefact Erosion Counter is based on a series of assumptions, many of which are untestable which is partly why it is regarded with scepticism and even hostility by some vested interests….” Mike continues…
“The accuracy of the Counter is not really the issue though, as the key question is whether it provides a reasonable basis from which to consider the scale of the loss of knowledge caused by metal detecting when finds are not reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (in England and Wales). I think it serves its purpose in this regard, though inevitably the methodology behind the Counter is open to debate.”
Precisely how this hangs with the CBA’s TORC programme eludes me. One sincerely hopes that techniques that are ‘open to debate’ along with ‘untestable assumptions’ will not be employed on excavations funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Then again, for many years now, archaeo-sceptics have suspected archaeology was based on guesswork…and now, not always educated guesses either.
Search me. I don’t know, neither does anyone else I suspect, but our old pal Paul Barford makes a piss poor case for it according to the still-born paper he presented to his own (surprise, surprise) seminar at the UCS on the 10th April.
However with his discredited Artefact Erosion Counter as a measure of his archaeological ken, you might be forgiven for imagining he doesn’t know his archaeological arse from his metal detecting elbow. His wispy theory strongly suggests that here’s a drowning man clutching at straws in a last attempt to salvage a failed attack on the metal detecting community.
In the past he’s taken great delight in extracting the urine from those less educated than he, citing their poor use of grammar as indicative of their IQ’s, though the title of his latest whinge against the hobby, the UCS seminar, strongly suggests he’s stepped into an elephant trap of his own making. Buffoon is a word that springs to mind.
If, as he suggests, that, Suffolk’s buried and unexplored heritage is being unsustainably pilfered, it follows, as surely as night follows day, that Suffolk’s buried and unexplored heritage could be pilfered in a sustainable way!
Without wishing to be unduly discourteous to the revered translator/alleged archaeologist, one has to ask if Barford really knows where he’s coming from, or indeed, what part of the Solar System he imagines he’s on.
I respectfully suggest he should consider taking a long break to study tactics and when he’s confident, re-enter the bull-pit of debate and try again.
PS. Perhaps he should take the ‘eavesdropper’ with him?
The fact that the Arts and Humanities Research Council (A&HRC) has recently awarded the British Museum, working in collaboration with the University of Leicester, a £645K grant for a 3-year project on "Crisis or continuity? The deposition of metalwork in the Roman world: what do coin hoards tell us about Roman Britain in the 3rd century AD?" has sent the more virulent anti-metal detectorists apoplectic. Why? The reason is simple and two-fold.
To begin with, grant aid of the kind given by the A&HRC recognises the responsible and worthy contribution Britain’s detectorists are making to the furtherance and expert analysis of roman Britain. Detectorists are handing this raw material in quantities unseen elsewhere and it’s little wonder detecting’s opponents are livid with envy. Unsurprisingly, in attempting to diminish their humiliation, slurs and disinformation are flying thick and fast from that quarter.
Though they would have the world believe otherwise, even they recognise little of importance depends on orthodox ‘amateur archaeology’; unlike metal detecting, where jobs in the heritage sector now largely depend on the huge contribution detectorists are making. Currently the PAS has:-
The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) record now standing at some 850,000 artefacts and rising rapidly, has left the Luddites floundering. Whilst the PAS is recognised as a major heritage resource arguably perhaps, the greatest step forward in encouraging greater public involvement in the heritage, loud-mouthed, vociferous opponents, prove the adage; empty vessels make the most noise.
In what is laughably a two-pronged attack on both the PAS itself and its head, Dr Roger Bland, and the very source of the PAS’s record, Britain’s metal detectorists, all they can come up with is a ludicrous artefact erosion counter pie-chart, propped up by statistics harvested in a manner unable to withstand close scrutiny. In trying to scale the heights of the heritage high-ground they have unwittingly demonstrated their lack of accurate archaeological analysis.
To allow these people further access to archaeological sites without appropriate supervision, one would have to take leave of one’s senses. But this is another scuffle to be won.
In the meantime, for us, it’s ONWARDS and UPWARDS!
Paula B it seems is all-a-quiver with excitement at the mere thought of dining with the nestor of archaeo-bloggers, David G. I’m uncertain as to what a ‘nestor’ is, so perhaps Paula’s misspelled the word which celebrity watchers think is actually ‘nester’ (a transitive verb meaning to put one thing inside another, or group things together into a single unit). Paula says they’ve never met. Okay, David, Paula’s the one wearing the paper bag over the head.
So what’s a la carte at Ipswich’s top eaterie, Le Bistro Pinder-Wilson.
This important conference helps reinforce the stature of Britain’s growing army of detectorists and the outstanding contribution they are making to the heritage.
This from the PAS’s website regarding the conference:-
"Once given little consideration by most archaeologists, post-medieval material was the 'stuff machined through' to get to the 'interesting layers' below. However, thanks to changing attitudes amongst archaeologists and also a growing dataset of finds recovered by metal-detectorists and others now being recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme, there is increasing awareness of the importance of post-medieval finds for understanding the past. It is this interest, and research into such finds, that will be highlighted at this conference."
The cost of the conference is £10 for members of the FRG and £15 for non-members. To book a place please send a cheque made payable to 'The British Museum' to Janina Parol, Department of Portable Antiquities & Treasure, British Museum, London, WC1B 3DG. Tel: 020 7323 8546. Email: email@example.com
As much as I despise you-know-who both as a man and what passes for an historian, I find myself very reluctantly though partially sharing his views about the looting of Egyptian artefacts from the tombs at Luxor and elsewhere in the Valley of Kings.
Whilst I wouldn’t put it past him or any of his ilk to lay the appearance of hundreds of holes all over the Luxor, dug to give easy access into previously unknown tombs (all in the wake of the civil unrest in that troubled country) at the door of metal detectorists – of which they are completely innocent – the question is not only who’s buying all this filched gear, but who is knocking out the dodgy certification to get the filched gear top banana prices?
As everyone knows, or should know is, that all antiquities need a provenance, a certificated source of origin to proves authenticity. Without this provenance, even an original piece is worth no more that the feeblest fake, and to collectors (museums too) the piece is just so much scrap.
But what happens when one comes across a real gem of a piece, be it a coin or a ceramic object? Well, one buys it at the knock-down, provenance-free price, and then through certain doors and avenues one obtains certification by an acknowledged expert authenticating the place of the find and its antecedent history. That done, Bob’s your mother’s brother! You can slide it into any auction or pass it off to a collector thousands of times more than one paid for it.
“So,” you might ask, ”Who’s behind it all and who’s buying?” Well it ain’t metal detectorists, or bog-standard treasure hunters, that’s for sure. So who’s left in the frame? I leave you to ponder……..
Well apart from heat-saving metallic foil blankets, and non-stick frying pans, quite a lot. But now, with the hush-hush development an off-shoot from the Mars exploration programme, treasure hunting prepares for a seismic shift with the adaptation of the particle analysis accelerator used by the Mars Rover robot.
In essence, the circuitry undergoing R & D in Beijing laboratory when married to a suitable coil (still under development), will have the capability of identifying the metallic - ferrous or non-ferrous - content of target objects (in our case coins of all kinds including Roman and Celtic) to previously undreamed of depths to an accuracy of +/- .375 of a millimetre. The Pro-X PAS as it is known, will be marketed through a well-known metal detector manufacturer’s international sales web.
Certain documentary and AV material to which I am privy, plainly reveals that during primary in-field testing even at this early stage, US Dimes and tiny Roman bronze coins, along with other auric material was identified and recovered from depths of 37.5-inches. One of the research team told me,” This figure will be doubled”.
However, the inherent problem with hunting at these depths is one of recovery and I am confident that the lightweight drilling equipment currently being tested in the hard-baked and difficult soils of Italy and Turkey will in time be no dearer than lower-end metal detectors. I reckon £75 to £90, with new metal detectors coming on stream by September this year and the £1,200 to £1,500 price range.
Soon, many of us will be working well below the ploughline in previously uncharted, but coin rich strata.
Though I rarely browse the metal detecting forums, I recently had a poke around when at a loose end and came across one ‘thread’ where someone was having a hard time with the ATPro in saltwater. Comments ranged from ‘it doesn’t work in saltwater’, through to it being the best thing since bread came sliced (which of course it is!)
I use the ATPro International exclusively IN seawater and over saltwater foreshores with ease. However, there is one stretch of beach in my locality, a natural coin and jewelery trap by the way, that apparently has high ferrous content imparting negative effects making many machines almost unusable. Ironically, the GARRETT ACE250, some £400 cheaper than the ATPro romps away hereabouts. But if you haven’t got one of these little ACE250 beauties, then you need to ‘blunt’ your ATPro’s target response to get results over ‘hard’ ground.
Begin by turning down the SENS until the AT Pro steadies and becomes stable and less responsive to the ground conditions; and don’t be afraid to turn the SENS right down if necessary. Then switch off the IRON AUDIO circuitry and ground balance correctly. Normally, most local beaches to me give G/BAL readings of around ‘12’ but this particular stretch of foreshore records ’75 – 89’. In operation you’ll still have to sort the wheat from the chaff and to listen carefully for ‘genuine’ target signals, even to the extent of clipping on a Super Sniper, 4.5-inch diameter coil to reduce the amount of coil area.
You have to take on board the fact that it’s not the machine’s fault, but that you are working in an area that’s right on the safe workable limits of the machine’s capabilities. What you are doing in effect is…extreme detecting!
If you ever come across similar conditions, try ‘blunting’ your detector’s target response as mentioned and it’s a trick which will work with most other machines too. When I know I’m going to hunt this area only, then I’ll always use the ACE250 with its standard coil and SENS dropped back a few notches.
At a meeting of a fraternal organisation of which I am a member, I sat opposite at dinner an elderly gent who I later discovered is a millionaire….. a man who buys and sells vast tracts of land across the Shires. His son, a wealthy builder, told another diner sitting to my right that he wanted to get, “the old man a metal detector” as apparently, “he needs, something to occupy him. I know he’s always wanted one.”
“Have a word with John here,” came the reply, “He’ll put you right.” And so it came to pass.
Over drinks at the bar, it became clear that our man was more interested in the hunt than of any ‘treasure’ he might discovery, “Oh, just imagine finding roman coins…I’ve got access to acres of land.”
“Well you realise,” I said, “that most roman coins found in the ploughsoil, are bronze and worth little in monetary terms?”
“Yes, but I’d be the first person in thousands of years to handle them. If I want gold coins I can buy them, but that’s not the point. What a great thing it is to be able to go out there in the fresh air, getting some exercise, and finding coins.” Indeed, yes.
From miners to millionaires, the fascination for metal detecting is all-embracing drawing interest from right across the social spectrum; it’s not about the monetary rewards or financial gain as some of our detractors suggest, but the freedom to do things OUR WAY!
We finally hit the spot with the exposé of the dishonest Artefact Erosion Counter (AEC) and its ramshackle computation. The chief (and most unintentional) scalp was the Council for British Archaeology’s Director, Mike Heyworth. He’s not a bad bloke really, underneath, and is normally a very shrewd cookie; it seems he just got sucked into the prop-wash of the AEC’s nonsensical theory. I was somewhat taken aback that he’d thrown his academic weight behind such twaddle.
I’m sorry he was made to look a lemon, but he paid his money and took his chance. He’s a pro; he’ll get over it and so will the CBA - in time!
If you’ve ever wondered what George Custer was thinking shortly before the Sioux Nation finally overwhelmed him, guess who can tell you? Yep, you’re right!! They’ve recently been in a similar position. Their take on the demolition job of the now discredited Artefact Erosion Counter, a skirmish from which the CBA didn’t exactly emerge covered in glory either, is revealing. I can’t imagine they’ll be raising a glass to the success of the AEC in the CBA’s mess tonight! Humble Pie I am told, might soon be back on the menu.
As the cracks in their madcap ‘artefact counter’ widened to expose their utterly flawed concept, the beleaguered Midlanders platoon, could offer little resistance to the onslaught. All Uhlan their commander could muster was a shrill pathetic war-cry to bolster the flagging troops …They haven’t produced any figures of their own! It’s so unfair!
Of course, what they failed to grasp (and still do) is that we don’t have to! The 800,000 items registered with the UK government’s world beating Portable Antiquities Scheme does the talking for us!
Not for us, dotty data made on the hoof. Geronimo!
UK detectorists are ripping-off the heritage to the tune of 11-million, unreported artefacts. Who says so? Unsurprisingly look no further than our old friends at Heritage Action (‘Foggy’ Swift and the gang) and their no-brainer Artefact Erosion Counter. Obviously they have proof of this outlandish claim? Well…er…hum…it’s a bit difficult really… er..,no…actually. I know it’s hard to believe!! You see, their facts and figures don’t really stack up; so no surprises here then you might say.
So what about their ‘facts’ and ‘figures’; if they aren’t kosher, could it be a case of misread data? Well, er, hum, er, well, actually… neither! Under close scrutiny the Artefact Erosion Counter begins to look like the biggest fable since Aesop put pen to parchment. But not to worry about such a trifling point as accuracy folks, the Director of the Council for British Archaeology (CBA), Dr Mike Heyworth seems to approve of this modern myth. Though he reckons, “…the methodology behind the Counter is open to debate … The accuracy of the Counter is not really the issue…” adding it, “… provides a reasonable basis from which to consider the scale of the loss of knowledge caused by metal detecting when finds are not reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (in England and Wales).” Huh????
Not really the issue? Well it may not be to him, but it certainly is to the majority of detectorists who are being branded,without a shred of evidence, as some kind of heritage vandals.
What our foes can’t, or won’t get their grey cells around, is the fact, there is no legal requirement to report finds falling outside the parameters of the 1996 Treasure Act. Indeed, reporting finds to the Portable Antiquities Scheme is purely voluntary, and seeing as how the CBA was a driving force behind the implementation of the Treasure Act, you could be forgiven for thinking that of all people, the CBA’s Director, Mike Heyworth, would know this. The Artefact Erosion Counter’s data is not only pure dross and possibly verging on the libellous; it is clearly nothing less than a crude, archaeological propaganda tool, to smear law-abiding people whose hobby they detest. The CBA is a charity registered in England and Wales (no 287815) and in Scotland (no SC041971). It is also a Company Limited by Guarantee, registered in England No. 1760254.
Therefore, in the eyes of the law, a non-reporter of finds is no less disreputable than one who does. Reporting non-treasure finds is simply a moot, academic point, with no legal standing. That stated, the 800,000 items (and growing) currently registered on the UK government’s funded Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), is the first port of call for many students who owe their learning to the dedicated efforts of detectorists, not archaeologists, simply because they are finding and reporting finds in their tens of thousands. The PAS is not only a dazzling success for UK detectorists, but a credit to the British Museum’s Dr Roger Bland. What’s got right up the nose of our sniffy opponents is that metal detecting is providing the prized and valuable academic resource which orthodox archaeology cannot. The Green-Eyed Monster has raised it’s ugly head.
Of course detectorists (where allowed) are eager to comply and report non-treasure artefacts to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, or with the privately run UK Detector Finds Scheme. So what’s the beef of this virulently anti-metal detector outfit, Heritage Action, and their fairy tale Artefact Erosion Counter?
To get a handle on things I emailed Dr Mike Heyworth, Director of the Council for British Archaeology, whose data, the pressure group Heritage Action uses to prop-up their absurd Erosion Counter.
Please understand that despite what my critics say, I am not anti archaeology per se. I am however, vociferous in the defence of the hobby and take no prisoners in my defence of it. Neither have you escaped the wrath of my keyboard.
I contribute to a blogsite, Stout Standards, where I am critical of archaeology’s stance towards metal detectorists. I am generally critical of the CBA, and of others in the archaeological establishment who are widely considered to be high-handed, elitist, dismissive, and po-faced towards detectorists. You will surely be aware of archaeologists Paul Barford and Nigel Swift and their obnoxious comments towards the PAS, and of any archaeologist daring to speak well of metal detecting. Their comments and insinuations are never allowed to go unchallenged. Whilst ‘insiders’ tell me they do not represent mainstream archaeology, I’ve yet to hear anyone in your Council say a word against their vitriol. Any criticism is always said to me in a behind-the-hand whispers for obvious reason. Needless to say, I am not over impressed with the CBA.
The Artifact Erosion Counter, if Nigel Swift of Heritage Action is to be believed, uses CBA data to prop-up this preposterous Counter, when he writes that;
“…because the figures underlying and supporting our Erosion Counter are the best in the business – i.e. CBA/EH’s survey of what is found and PAS’s stats on what is brought to them!” Presumably, the CBA has thrown it’s lot in with Heritage Action? Perhaps not?
However, Dr Roger Bland of the Portable Antiquities Scheme is often a target of the Artifact Erosion Counter’s authors’ bile, mainly due to his criticism of the Counter that lacks ‘credibility’. But they do admit;
“The Counter may or may not be a precise reflection of the rate of depletion (and in our view it is almost certainly a very considerable under-estimate) but the broad picture it paints – of millions of artefacts being needlessly taken and society being wantonly deprived of most of the associated knowledge of its past – appears to be perfectly accurate and is at odds with the current “official” account.”
‘May or may not be precise’ ? Hardly the kind of accuracy the CBA I would have thought, would want the world at large believe is the benchmark of excellence, when, at the same time archaeology consorts with the rantings of Swift and Barford to accuse detectorists of being imprecise in their doings. Perhaps I expect too much from the CBA. It has previous form in this respect when it used the now-infamous cartoon depicting a treasure hunter in its ill-fated STOP Campaign, which Conrad Dehn, QC, likened to the anti-Semetic propaganda in 1940's Germany.
I am currently preparing a piece about the Artifact Erosion Counter. So I have to ask you…
1. Bearing mind that the Counter ‘may or may not be precise’, does the CBA support the Counter?
2. If it does so support the Counter, is it fair to say therefore, CBA agrees that Dr Roger Bland is wrong in condemning the Counter as lacking ‘credibility’?
Finally, though you might well find me more than a little blunt and direct, my views nonetheless, are sincerely held and I bear you no personal malice.
Thank you for providing a bit more context to your initial enquiry. I have no difficulty with robust exchanges of views, though I am glad to hear you bear me no personal malice!
The HA Artefact Erosion Counter is based on a series of assumptions, many of which are untestable which is partly why it is regarded with scepticism and even hostility by some vested interests. The accuracy of the Counter is not really the issue though, as the key question is whether it provides a reasonable basis from which to consider the scale of the loss of knowledge caused by metal detecting when finds are not reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (in England and Wales). I think it serves its purpose in this regard, though inevitably the methodology behind the Counter is open to debate.
The CBA strongly supports the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting (http://finds.org.uk/getinvolved/guides/codeofpractice) and encourages all detectorists to report their finds.
I regret that it appears to be a minority of metal detectorists who follow the Code of Practice.
With best wishes,
Many thanks for your reply. I am robust, but I try to be fair, a legacy of my days in journalism.
As with any outdoor pursuit, there will always be a few who don’t play the game and I can’t imagine that all skeet-shooters should be branded armed robbers simply because hardened criminals use shotguns for their nefarious activities. The 800,000 items (and growing) on the PAS is testimony to the fact that many amateurs are reporting finds for benefit of academic study.
However to base anything on a series of assumptions relegates whatever it might be, to the realms fantasy and propagandising. Had this Counter been dreamed up by ‘our’ side I would be in the vanguard of condemnation.
Good luck (but not too much) with your future endeavours. Keep in touch.
Unquestionably, the Artefact Erosion Counter, based on what Mike Heyworth describes as “a series of assumptions, many of which are untestable which is partly why it is regarded with scepticism,” confirms that the Counter is utter tosh from start to finish. Of course we all suspected it, but now is confirmed.
Nonetheless, what should detectorists make of Mike Heyworth’s fact-free hypothesis that only a minority of them follow the Code of Practice? Where is his evidence to support his outrageous claim? Who knows? It’s too much to hope for that he’s using the fairy-tale data from the Artefact Erosion Counter, or is it? Perhaps if they feel strongly enough about this slur, metal detectorists should write to Mike Heyworth at the CBA, asking if he has evidence against them. If not, then demand an apology, which if it’s not forthcoming, seeks redress through their respective Members of Parliament.
I’d be happy to receive his figures, ‘chapter and verse’ and until then as far as I am concerned, his hypothesis ranks alongside the Artefact Erosion Counter… fanciful hogwash!
What I find especially scandalous is the CBA’s admitted reliance on guesstimates. Detectorists, do not rely on ‘guess-timation’ as the PAS proves. The question has to be asked: Can anyone trust the veracity of excavation reports ever again if the Artefact Erosion Counter is an example of archaeological precision? Perhaps then, we need an urgent independent enquiry into archaeology to question whether we are getting proper value for money in these cash-strapped times; the last thing we need are Erosion Counter-style excavation reports.
Ever the politician, Mike Heyworth skillfully sidesteps the divide between farmers, landowners, and archaeologists – that of trust. Many only allow detectorists access provided they don’t report non-treasure finds, usually as a result of past experiences with jackbooting archaeologists stomping across their green and pleasant land. Though admittedly apocryphal, one of my landowners, a senior National Farmers Union regional officer, thoroughly detested archaeologists, and when in the company of his farming neighbours over drinks, I discovered his was a widely held view.
Neither is it unknown for builders, developers, and ground-workers to avoid archaeological attention like the plague, especially as they can, and do, hold up development with the added costs of excavations passed on to the final buyer. A most unsatisfactory situation for a buyer whose been lumbered with coughing-up extra cash to pay for archaeological analysis that might well be based on guesswork that wouldn’t look out of place in a Middle School history class.
Curiously, the CBA’s Patron, His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, our king-in-waiting, shares an enthusiasm for detectorists, unlike the CBA itself: HRH showing no reticence in flogging-off foreshore permits for his Duchy of Cornwall’s coastline to detectorists at fifty-quid a throw.
However, the stampede to get them has yet to occur….
Polish scientists aided by UK forensic archaeologists and specialist metal detectorists, reckon to have uncovered early evidence of the ancient un-martial art known as Wim Py (pronounced, whim pee) meaning, ‘devoid of facts,’ a defensive talent still practised today by only a handful of exponents.
Some of the art’s classic manoeuvres include; The Pleader, where the defender cries aloud,‘dhont ‘kin it me,’ before prostrating himself the attacker’s feet begging not to be hit with facts, but relying heavily on the assailant’s sense of pity.
Another counter blow, believed to have evolved in the UK by ‘Wimpo’ monks, is known as, The Threat, (a useless bluff tactic, by the way) involves the defender counter-attacking a perceived threat by uttering the words, I have a right to insult you with lies, while simultaneously pleading with the attacker, ‘dhont ‘kin it me’.
This manoeuvre is a similar to the counter-attack known as, The Blogsite, where the defender squeals and begs forgiveness for publishing lies and distortions, whilst mouthing the words, dhont ‘kin it me. It seldom works. Neither does the slowly delivered counter attack known as the, hee roshun arty-facked counter; a tactic based on the Piltdown Gambit, a manoeuvre devoid of any factual evidence whatsoever, but disables the aggressor when presented, renders the attacker into fits of uncontrollable mirth and laughter so is unable to press home his attack.
Wim Py exponents are often found loitering in and around traders of detectors de metales, and heavily disguised.'Spot the Wimpo’ is a popular pastime.
I’m not normally predisposed to advertising the garbage published on the Heritage Action blogsite, but the latest offering is mildly related to what I had previously written in an earlier ‘Mal Sal’.
Previously in ‘Mal Sal’, I made a joke about the archaeo-blog, Heritage Action, being pure bullshit, and judging from this latest submission under the title, A picture to be viewed with contempt, you’ll discover it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that my assessment of it as being a rich seam of the stuff is correct. Written by our old pal, ‘Foggy’ Swift, he proves (to me at least) that his archaeo-blogsite is the world’s greatest repository (or should that be, suppository) of Bovine Scatology. His 24-carat ‘write-up’ is simply superb, and a must-read offering, that I exhort you all to read…it’s absolutely, bloody, hilarious. Check it out here.
Assuming you can put up with Swifty’s turgid prose, it eventually becomes obvious that he’s really angry and upset that the UK government is pouring money in the PAS as opposed to the nonsense he supports, and in a fit of teenage pique, slags off some poor archaeology student at York Uni for supporting the PAS and those members of the public (us) who have made this fantastic scheme the best there is.
But, wait….oooh-er…Swifty and the gals have a secret weapon…the Artefact Erosion Counter. ‘Foggy’ and his Sixth-formers along with Sandy and Paul, reckon that over 11-million artefacts have been found by treasure hunters and not reported. Proof?....Ah, well…ahem…a bit difficult really. Er...’cos there ain’t any!!!!!!
Small wonder then, he and the kiddies at Heritage Action aren’t being taken seriously either by the PAS itself (a regular target for their venom) or by influential Ministers with the nous to avoid being sucked in by Swifty’s clumsy bullshit.
Keep up the good work, Nige!
With the vast amount of unrecorded (and thus unprovenanced) flint tools, arrowheads, and ceramic shards finding their way onto the antiquities market, the time for action to halt this illicit and damaging trade has arrived.
The government must restrict the sale of trowels to bona fide gardeners, metal detectorists and bricklayers only. Worryingly, many of these implements are in the hands of people who openly dig for, but don’t report, valuable artefacts. These hooligans, who go under the name, ‘Heritage Actioneers’, are easily identified by the uniformity of their dress and demeanour; unkempt beards, brightly coloured woolly jumpers, dishevelled hair, bobble hats, and their revolting habit of spitting and swearing, their loose morals, and quaffing vast amounts of real ale. The menfolk of the species are even worse. Their blogsite, Heritage Auction, overflows with accounts of their dastardly exploits, all unhindered by any kind of Code of Conduct, and features devious contributions from Eastern Europe.
The current legal situation is gravely disturbing in that anyone can buy a trowel irrespective of age, and immediately begin digging on heritage sites without a second thought. Trowel sales must be curbed. Sometimes, these unskilled vandals pose as genuine detectorists, though lack their expertise, and without any form of Third Party Liability insurance, open-cast mine their across the countryside in broad daylight, leaving unfilled holes behind them. The West Midlands area in particular, is suffering serious damage from the activities of these clandestine excavators known as "Dayhawks".
If you really care about your heritage, help to put an end to this cultural damage by joining the, Stop Trowelling Our Past (S.T.O.P.) campaign and halt the weirdo’s in their tracks.
Q. What’s the difference between the ‘Heritage Action’ blogsite and a bucket of bullshit?
A. The bucket.
The brainchild of Eddy Current, MDN is a website jam-packed with treasure and metal-detecting news from around the world; everything from gold mining and nugget hunting, through to hammered silver coins from English fields, and just about all else from across the globe.
Simply log-in to Facebook and search for Metal Detecting News. Enjoy!
Over the past few months, some people have been slating FID’s insurance policy in some metal detecting forums, where unsurprisingly, they have got it all completely wrong. Of course, we know that forums are regularly infiltrated by muck-raking students of ancient cultures, whose sole intent is spreading alarm and despondency amongst the naive. This blurring of the facts about FID’s insurance may well be such a tactic.
These are the FACTS! FID member’s insurance cover has just been raised to £10-million Third Party Liability cover, with a £500 pound excess per claim, THAT FID PAYS, NOT THE MEMBER.
To date, and from FID’s 1982 inception, there have been no claims on the policy. Bearing in mind FID’s thousands of members, it speaks volumes about the conduct of its members and metal detectorists in general. Though we in our hobby insure and underwrite loss or damage, there are others, students of ancient cultures for example, who walk the fields looking for non-metallic items of antiquity and who, scandalously, lack this protective cover. Many of these people see landowners as an unlimited source for hand-worked flint implements, and pottery shards, all of which command good prices! All of which of course, goes unrecorded and unhindered by the Treasure Act.
The message then, to those landowners and farmers who I know follow this blog, is to pass the word to your colleagues that allowing uninsured students of ancient cultures, to wander willy-nilly across on your land, is something you allow at your financial peril. Indeed, much of what these harmless-looking, bobble-hatted individuals’ pick-up and surreptitiously slide down their wellies, has significant monetary value and is YOUR PROPERTY.
Unconfirmed information comes my way suggesting that many of these woolly-hatted eccentrics are not always what they’d like you to believe they are; in reality, some are hard-nosed rip-off merchants with strong links to the shadier side of London’s ceramics antiquities market. And bearing in mind the current financial downturn they are eager to cash-in on tax-free, under the counter deals. Dayhawking is good business.
I urge you all to ensure that anyone venturing onto your farmland possesses Third Party Liability insurance equal to, or better than FID’s and is in possession of, and operates by, a Code of Conduct, of which FID’s is the perfect model. Students of ancient cultures claiming to be bona fide will of course have some kind of insurance, but as to whether they have and adhere to their own Code of Conduct, I’m unsure, though Landowner/Searcher type agreements are almost non-existent amongst the students of ancient cultures community.
I further understand there are rumblings for new legislation to protect farmers and landowners from the activities of unscrupulous, uninsured, students of ancient cultures whose unrecorded harvesting of, and trade in pilfered ceramics, should not be allowed to continue unabated.
A former restorer of Pompeii is under house arrest on corruption charges, Italian police have said. Five others, including the ex-special commissioner appointed to deal with the increasing degradation of the historic site, are also under investigation. In 2008, the country declared a state of emergency at the site of the ancient Roman city buried by an eruption of the Vesuvius volcano in AD 79. Annamaria Caccavo denies charges of corruption and fraud against her firm.
Ms Caccavo, whose Salerno-based firm carried out projects within the internal area of Pompeii at a total cost of some eight million euros (£6.9m), is currently under house arrest. Her firm, Caccavo, has been blocked from taking public contracts and has had assets of some 810,000 euros (£702,000) seized.
Since doing a Garrett video about beach hunting with the ATPro, which apart from generating a lot of interest in the ATPro itself, brought forth other queries such as,“Where did you get that sandscoop and how much?” etc., etc.
For the record it’s a modified Black Ada sandscoop available from Regton Ltd, 82 Cliveland Street, Birmingham, England, B19 3SN (Product Code: 2SSSS) Telephone: 0121 359 2379 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, price £30.95.
I took the scoop along to a local engineering firm, one that specialises in manufacturing high-quality stainless steel deck fittings for luxury yachts and cruisers, who then added a 24-inch stainless steel extension.
Though it’s quite superb in dry sand and I’m now able to dig deep when need be, it’s less suited to wet/damp sand conditions were digging/recovery puts higher stress and demands on the trowel.
For wading and wet/damp sand conditions, I had the same firm custom-build me a long-handled scoop from marine-grade stainless steel using marine-grade welding techniques. It’s a brute of a scoop and does the biz.
I was at an archaeological get-together recently, where the ‘hot dog’ stall was run by very large, tattooed, sweaty woman, who from downwind, obviously hadn’t taken the advantages of soap and hot water for a week or three. The guy in front of me asked for a couple burgers, whereupon she delved into the freezer, took out two burgers, and slapped one under each armpit…while continuing to fry some onions...
“Jeez,” I asked incredulously, “What the hell are you doing? “.
“Defrosting ‘em, honey,” she smiled, “It saves time.”
“Well you can bloody forget my hot dog then!”
At a recent nocturnal hole-digging event in Staffordshire with members of the Joseph Goebbels Appreciation Society - motto, ‘Who Cares Who Wins’ - the Honorary Social and Propaganda Secretary, the ageing harpy Nigella de Swift, was overheard telling the story of how a man done her wrong to an ex-pat English antiquities collector and dealer in ancient Japanese prints, who for tax reasons and piss poor educational diplomas, is mainly domiciled in Poland. Evidently, she had been screwed - in all senses of the word - by this Canadian merchant sailor (from some place called Lachine it seems) It was fascinating stuff.
It seems our Nigella (a bit of a ‘goer’ by all accounts), stowed away on a ship she thought was bound for Cairo and the Valley of Kings, by hiding in one of the lifeboats. After three weeks at sea she was discovered and brought before the Captain who demanded to know how she had survived for so long without food and water. “One of your stokers brought it to me and in return, I let him have his way with me,” she explained. “Well, you certainly deserve f*****g,” the Captain replied, “This is the Isle of Wight ferry.”
Ironically, it’s not the first time Nigella has been well-stuffed by a smooth-talking Canadian!
And now some advice for amateur arkies. If you really must dig holes on protected sites, in the middle the night, be sure that your companions are who you really think they are. Oh, what a web we weave, when we intend to deceive….Ha, ha, ha, ha!
Recently, while flicking through the pages of a pretty good treasure hunting book, Where To Find Treasure, by someone called Dick Stout (that name sounds familiar), he makes reference to Rural Boundary Walls (see page 111). He ends the piece by saying they are worth your time in searching: They certainly are, and to expand a little more on Dick’s reference, here’s why..
For hundreds of years in Britain (including the present day) construction materials for property boundaries markers, fences, and the like, are made from the most widely available local source. In some areas of Britain, this means large stones, rocks and small boulders. With great skill and dexterity, the stones are interlocked forming immensely strong mortar-free walls. In Britain, they call this method of construction dry-stone walling, and in the US they know it as rock fencing.
Bearing in mind that the stones used to construct these walls often came from land cleared for agriculture should send a signal to the canny treasure hunter that an abandoned farmhouse of dwelling won’t be too far away.
In Britain, these walls are characteristic features of Scotland, the North East and North West, parts of Wales and in the South West. Early settlers to the US, primarily the Scots and Irish, brought with them this dry-stone walling technique, and many of these early walls are still standing in places like New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Many date back - in the US at least – to the earliest colonial times. The photo of the rock fence in Guilford, Vermont, is a typical example. Dry-stone walls, whether here in the UK or in the US, should be of great significance for they often conceal valuables of all kinds often dating back many decades.
During Britain’s turbulent medieval times, it was not uncommon for travelers to hide their valuables in these walls as a precaution against robbery before venturing into a town to seek a night’s accommodation. Many, for whatever reason, failed to return to collect their valuables; where some must still remain undiscovered to this day.
Given America’s often lawless past, with the ravages of Civil War, and roaming outlaw bands and desperados, it is likely that travellers en route to wherever adopted similar precautions to protect their prized belongings and valuables.
When scanning a dry-stone wall or rock fence, use if possible, a larger coil in All-Metal mode. Whilst you may be lucky enough to recover items of gold, silver, or pewter, a fine old pistol may not register.
Coins and the like are usually hidden behind stones in the wall that are loose and do not have any apparent ‘supporting role’ in the construction. You can spot these by careful examination prior to scanning. If you own a probe, such as Garrett’s ‘Pro-Pointer’, or a Whites ‘Bullseye’, for example, then so much the better. These are ideal tools for delving into the nooks and crannies.
Should you be fortunate enough to come across one of these walls, try to gauge its date through local history sources. In any case, the wall will probably date back a minimum of one hundred years, which in itself is a vital clue as to what else the locality holds undiscovered, particularly if there is an abandoned or ruined homestead thereabouts.
If you come across an old abandoned dwelling, don’t forget to check whether it has the remains of an orchard. During the English Civil War in the mid-1600’s, family silver and other valuables were sometimes buried for safekeeping under certain trees in apple orchards. Many failed to reclaim their buried loot. It’s well to bear in mind that hoarders seldom put all their eggs in one basket; so where there’s one cache there’s likely to be another close by.
During one of my many beach hunting forays to the islands of Mediterranean Sea, I became surrounded by a bevy of bronzed, nubile, topless beauties of Scandinavian origin all clearly anxious to know what I was doing; they not having seen before anyone swinging something so long near the water (I wish).Having explained to them in a mixture of broken English and sign language all about coinshooting which proved fairly easy, but answering one stunning blonde’s question, ”How deep can you go,” was another ball-game entirely. I looked across to my wife standing nearby who was watching the proceedings with increasing mirth, mouthed the words, “In your dreams!” and walked away laughing.
Call me an old cynic but a metal detector with a $2,499.00 price tag is I reckon, extracting the urine. Nonetheless, fair play though to the manufacturers if they can relieve the punters of their ‘ hard-earned’ mazuma; after all business is business, and to cite WC Fields, “Never give a sucker an even break.”
Equally, the deceptive and painfully expensive equation that ‘ higher-the-cost does not equal higher-the-success’, is lost on more than a few hobby newbies, and more than a few of the hobby’s less-than-canny old sweats who should know better.
Jeez, for $2,499.00 you could fly out West for a nugget-hunting trip, take in a few beers, and get laid in Vegas and still have change (so I’m told), or, if you’re otherwise minded, fly Club Class to a fine Scottish Island distillery, followed by a lobster supper with a few half-decent bottles of vino, and still have enough left over to buy a decent piece of treasure hunting kit and maybe a wild night in Edinburgh (again, so I’m told).
A metal detector is simply the physical extension of the operator’s intuition; putting into practice what the astute operator knows or suspects to be true. For example, take an experienced angler to any river and he’ll tell you where to find specimen fish. Likewise, take an experienced treasure hunter to any landscape and he’ll tell you where the goodies are.
So, what is this uncanny ability seemingly possessed by only a few? How do you get it? Can you buy it, or, is it a gift? Is it born solely from in-field experience? The answers might be closer than you realise. Over the next few club meetings put a few of your members under the microscope and analyse them and their finds, and I’ll bet you 10grams of 18-carat gold to 10grams of horse shit, the most successful ones have been, or still are, keen anglers, and knowingly or otherwise possess another ‘gift’ bordering on the ‘Twilight Zone’; the ability to map-dowse.
Many people are unaware they have the gift to exercise this apparent mystic ability; and in this, we are entering another realm entirely; one where three hundred years ago, its practitioners would have been burnt at the stake.
If you’re not sure what map-dowsing is, or you’ve never heard of it, let me explain. It involves dangling a pendulum over a map to locate treasure, or water, underground features, even a grave. When the pendulum spins or swings in a particular fashion the dowser recognises this as a positive sign. Put another way, you could be sitting at home in New Jersey for example, and locate treasure in Texas, or vice versa (c’mon now Stouty, pay attention!). So before anyone jumps to the conclusion that I’ve been over-imbibing on the electric soup, I’ve seen successful map-dowsing first hand and remain completely mystified. Never mind the ‘how’s and why’s’ of it all, it works! Coincidence? Hardly.
My first encounter with this beguiling phenomenon was many years ago when I was brought in to search for two buried shotguns. During a coffee-break in the search, a local man asked the best way to locate a well-cap, which he believed to exist within the boundaries of a recently bought 17th Century Toll-House. He being the new owner wanted the well-cap located and perceived that if it did exist, then a potential cave-in was on the cards. Indeed, he wasn’t even sure that a well existed in the first place, his fears and suspicions based on no more than local folklore and gossip.
As a long-shot, I somewhat embarrassingly asked him to draw a map of the property which I told him I’d send to a map-dowsing friend. I could see from his expression he had no idea what I was talking about and somewhat disconcertingly I thought, assumed I was off my trolley. In the event, I called on him a couple of days later and passed on the map with a covering letter to my dowsing friend explaining the somewhat vague circumstances. It came back with a small circle marked on what was the south side of the property, the main courtyard, and I duly passed it on to the property owner in the hope that I’d hear no more about it and that my somewhat tarnished reputation wasn’t irrevocably ruined.
Not long afterwards I received a phone call from the property excitedly gabbling down the phone in state of sheer disbelief and excitement, telling me - shouting almost - that a well had been located and his engineers were in the process of strengthening the cap. It was, he explained, exactly as marked on the map. How map-dowsing works, or why it works, is pure ju-ju. Spooky or what?
A couple of days later I phoned my dowsing pal to give him the good news, adding there was a hill near to where my parents were then living that just shouted out, ‘treasure’. “Send me a map,” he said, “I’ll give it a go.” The map duly came back with an ‘X’ in a circle, precisely where I had always suspected ‘something’ was buried.
My ensuing enquiries strongly suggested the ‘site’ to be the burial spot of Communion silver looted from a nearby church by Parliamentarian forces during the English Civil war in 1643. The silver was never recovered and there is no known record of it ever being melted down or turned into coinage. In the course of events I met with the landowner, a Peer of the Realm, explaining it was my intention to return the silver to the Church Authorities. Inexplicably, he refused permission to search, though wanted me to surrender my map to him. I politely declined. Now, whenever I drive past the site, I always look and wonder…”What if?”
I’ll be interested to hear from any reader who has found ‘treasure’ through intuition, especially where the metal detector was simply the final tool in the discovery, or, from map dowsing....
Now then, where’s Google Earth?
Though I take enormous pleasure from lampooning the idiot Fascist wing of archaeology, it gives me even greater pleasure seeing thieves who plunder scheduled, or protected archaeological sites, being sent down for their crimes because the rest of us, who play up and play the game, carry the PR can by enduring the ensuing ‘black publicity’ splashed over the hobby by the ‘anti’ despots who see such publicity as yet another shillelagh with which to bludgeon the wholly legal and legitimate mainstream hobby and further their odd-ball politics.
Mercifully, and using English Heritage’s Nighthawking Report’s figures, the frequency levels of this kind of metal detector-based heritage crime are both negligible and unrepresentative of the hobby, in much the same way that poachers of game are no more representative of clay-pigeon shooters, than bank heist wheel men are typical of Indy 500 drivers.
Unsurprisingly, archaeology’s misdeeds seldom, if ever, appear in the public domain, always being carefully shelved....
Recently Dick Stout pondered the question; “The US Mint is looking at alternatives to the metallic composition of our coins, in the hopes of reducing costs. While it’s only in the trial stages I have to wonder how it might affect the ability of our detectors to find them.”
Rest easy Dick, it’s not a problem; certainly not for Garrett ATPro detectors (though I can’t speak for other makes) if the US Mint follows the Royal Mint’s example.
For many years here in the UK, 1p and 2p coins have been fashioned from copper-coated, steel blanks as a cost saving measure. Last year, our two lowest denomination ‘silver’ coins, the nickel-coated 5p and 10p pieces, also went ferrous, and are currently made from steel blanks, except these coins are thicker than the ones they replaced, resulting in utter chaos at vending machine sites and parking meters, most of which are not calibrated to take them.
In a beach environment these UK steel-based coins are easily detectable provided they’ve been in the salt/sand for less than 18-months. Digital Readouts can be as high as ’81’ for 1p coins, with 2p coins sounding off around the 71’s with audio clarion clear. Recent modern losses then, are in the bag. But similar coins that have been in the salt/sand longer are, if you don’t know your machine, a pain in the neck and a whole new ball-game.
Following seawater/sand immersion of 18-months or more, steel-based coins eventually ‘burst’ when the iron blank rusts and breaks through its copper coating. Often, these coins fool even an AT Pro into thinking it‘s an iron target, BUT, the signal ‘warbles’ even with the Audio Tone Roll feature – so dig! Then again, why worry about ‘missing’ what is after all, a low value, ‘junk’ target? Ten-penny pieces also ‘warble’ registering with a ‘55’ and worth digging.
A useful beach set-up for the ATPro International is to have the IRON AUDIO set to ‘ON’ and IRON DISCRIM set to around 30 to 35 and you will NEVER dig an iron target. And don’t forget to ground balance for the prevailing conditions.
Mind you, if the US Mint comes up with plastic coins, golf certainly looks an increasingly attractive alternative to coinshooting!!
So, the US military wants to let women have combat roles…hmmm! I’m no military strategist, but surely, all the enemy has to do is turn up with a couple of puppies????
Though the hobby made some great strides during 2012, we unfortunately lost some our pastime’s great characters, practitioners, and writers. Sadly, we are all the poorer for their passing. Nevertheless, and thanks to them, the hobby is on solid ground with increased membership worldwide. Overall the future looks bright…but no thanks to this Northamptonshire pair…
Peter Cox, 69, of Higham Ferrers, and Darren West,51, of Rushden, both made history at Northampton Crown Court, when having been found guilty of looting coins from a roman site belonging to English Heritage, became the first people to be awarded Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBO’S) for using metal detectors.
The pair were arrested after having been seen digging trenches on the protected site at Chester Farm, near Irchester, Northamptonshire, the site of Iron Age, roman, and medieval remains and settlements. Following the guilty verdict after admitting two counts of theft from a Scheduled Monument, they were each sentenced to 52-week jail sentences suspended for two years, during which time they are not allowed to use metal detecting equipment. They were ordered to pay £750 costs and £750 compensation, and their metal detecting equipment was confiscated.
The police recovered from their homes a number of artefacts, maps of Chester Farm and pottery.,,,,
After the hearing, English Heritage’s legal director, Mike Harlow, said, “These are not people enjoying a hobby or professionals carrying out careful study. They are thieves using metal detectors like a burglar using a jemmy.”
Mike Holmes, the East Midlands senior prosecutor said that anyone caught committing similar crimes could expect to face similar prosecutions and a criminal record.
Interestingly, Mike Harlow was careful to separate the criminality of Cox and West from the legitimate and wholesome mainstream hobby. At least he’s on top of his brief and plays a straight bat….
In a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph, English Heritage’s Chief Executive Simon Thurley, called for stiffer penalties for those found guilty of committing heritage crime. He was reported as saying that there was evidence that many of those who targeted historic monuments for a variety of criminal reasons, including metal detector users who dug up archaeologically rich sites looking for valuable artefacts, were “habitual” offenders. He went on to allege that some thieves trawled English Heritage’s databases of protected sites looking for places likely to contain rich pickings. How does he know? Where are the supporting figures and stats? Unimpressive stuff, but clearly showing he’d been badly briefed. In-House sabotage perhaps????
It was, Thurley further claimed, “disappointing” when those brought to justice got away with a "slapped wrist." Presumably he’s anxious to deny judges and magistrates the autonomy to fit the punishment to the crime. In calling for the judiciary to mete out custodial sentences for the most serious heritage offences, he further complained that many of those found guilty received only conditional discharges, or a fine, though failed to spell out exactly what constituted ‘serious heritage crime.’
He bolsters his shaky contentions by claiming that lesser penalties failed to deter modern-day tomb raiders who “smash” through unique archaeological sites or ancient buildings to steal valuable scrap metal or precious ancient coins and jewelry.
Oddly, he fails to mention English Heritage’s shortcomings recently exposed by the ever-so influential pressure group, Heritage Action, who severely criticised Thurley’s outfit by announcing as ‘official’ that EH was incapable of differentiating between the categories of Listing and Scheduling, which might well be a heritage crime in its own right!
Running true to EH form he couldn’t resist tarnishing the good name of metal detecting (again, without any factual back-up), by lumping the hobby in to the heritage crime mix with those who steal lead from church roofs, or steal stones from historic sites. For reasons best known to him he completely side-stepped his own department’s multi-thousand pound spending jamboree of public funds (at English Heritage’s behest) in the form of the ground-breaking Nighthawking Report, which as we all know, proves beyond any shadow of doubt that the so-called crime of Nighthawking is not by any stretch of the imagination, the heritage crime Tsunami radical heritologists make it out to be. At best, Thurley is either poorly advised and not on top of his brief, or is guilty of the worst kind of prejudice. Either way, he’s clearly unfit for purpose.
Bizarrely, the Telegraph let him off the hook with an easy ride in failing to give his feral claims the Third Degree, which, on the face of them, are nothing more than innuendo, vagueness, and testimony unburdened with facts. To the less than casual observer, it’s plain as a pikestaff that he was easing along a third party’s agenda. Or, as a journo friend of mine succinctly put it, “Nah, he’s justifying his job and salary, and failing.”
So, is the Sirocco blowing Thurley’s way in 2013? Perhaps, and the rumor mill has it that two fancied runners are in the stakes for the top job.
“I have decided to respond in a more conciliatory way, and hope that perhaps he does the same. Time will tell…,” writes Dick Stout. Don’t hold yer breath Richard!
Me? I’m far less tolerant than my friend Dick Stout…I’d happily throw the metaphorical switch on people who vigorously propagate the offensive anti-metal detecting caricatures of the Warsaw School of Thought…without regret…and raise a glass at the frying. These are typical specimens of the creatures I abhor; highbrows who use their education to lampoon those they believe are low-brows, or, somehow less intelligent.
Their blogsites (more properly, bogsites) are testament to their nauseating intellectual arrogance....
HRH Prince Charles, our King-in-Waiting, said this earlier in 2012 about his chances of taking the top job, “Impatient? Of course I am. I’ll run out of time soon. I shall have snuffed it, if I’m not careful.” Personally, and risking years in the slammer in the Tower of London (or worse), I hope he never becomes King; he being pro-arkie (CBA Patron), anti-detector, and one who secretly lobby’s Government Ministers to further his hobby-horse causes, does not bode well for this hobby if he ever takes the Throne.
The blurb says academics and non-specialists alike enjoy its broad-feature canvas, taking in interviews and travel, the latest archaeological news, exhibitions, book reviews, and importantly for archaeologists and collectors, auction reports! Published six times a year, Minerva is unlike any other magazine of this type (Bi-monthly, six issues for £28.50).
Minerva is the ideal organ for avid collectors with its sparkling articles on ceramics, and diverse metallics which could only have surfaced or originated from non-metal detecting sources. Having given Minerva a brief once-over, it’s well presented, well written, and evenly balanced, though there’s no telling whether its editorial team will keel over when archaeology’s extremists together with the even barmier fundamentalist wing get stuck into it. Minerva is not the kind of thing they want Joe Public reading!
In order to seduce potential subscribers into yearly contracts (and well worth the dosh it must be said) a free roman coin dating from about Fourth Century AD, is up for grabs. The voice-over in the current TV ad (at the time of writing, 15th December 2012), sounds awfully like metal detecting’s old pal, Tony Robinson, an odd choice I would have thought, given his heritage ploughline.
Of course, Robinson’s dulcet vocal overlay might be interpreted by some as a coded message; that once an artefact is reported and recorded, it’s okay to flog it, or give it away as a promo piece.
Nothing new here then; we’ve been saying this for years...
Aussie Sheila to her boyfriend: “Bruce, I’m pregnant, and if you don’t marry me I’m going to jump off the Sydney Bridge.”
Bruce: “Not only are you a great lay Sheila, but you’re a great sport too.”
The UK’s Culture Minister, Ed Vaisey, has given a big thumbs-up and a resounding endorsement to Britain’s legion of metal detectorists for the many thousands of finds they are recording with the dazzlingly successful, Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). The minister had this to say:
“A little known fact I discovered this week – Britain tops the league table for hoards. I am told, we have more archaeological finds every year than any other country. Whether this is per square foot or per head of the population, I am not sure, but it is a good statistic so I’m going to use it.
The reason I found this out was a visit to the British Museum to help launch the annual Treasure and Portable Antiquities Annual Reports which record every archaeological find reported for the year. There were more than 97,000, including some 970 that can be classified as treasure.
Through the unique and successful Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), new discoveries are reported locally to Finds Liaison Officers who record and catalogue them meticulously. Most are discovered by enthusiastic metal detectorists, the vast majority of whom, I am pleased to say, understand and respect the system and make sure their finds are recorded and properly preserved. There are now more than 800,000 such finds recorded on the PAS website.
This is a special ecology – amateur enthusiasts, working with experts, and funded by Government and the Headley Trust, as well as Local Authorities. It’s important – the public love these kind of discoveries, and the scheme ensures that important and world famous finds like the Staffordshire Hoard are immediately handled properly and scrupulously, and so saved for the nation. Long may it continue.”
Such is the diversity and importance of recorded finds, that 160 students are doing PhD courses based on these metal detectorists’ finds logged with the PAS, which is also attracting serious funding since it is now recognised as major heritage and archaeological resource and benefit.
A young heritologist walks into a seedy cantina in Chihuahua, just up the road from a creek from where gold-panners have been banned by the Heritage Police.
He sits at the counter and notices a gnarled old 49'er with his arms folded staring blankly at a bowl of chilli. After fifteen minutes of just sitting there staring at it, the young heritologist bravely asks the old 49'er, “If you ain’t gonna eat that, mind if I do?”
The old boy slowly turns his head toward the young arkie and in his best manner drawls, “Nah, you go ahead.”
Eagerly, the young heritologist reaches over and slides the bowl over to his place and starts spooning it in with delight. He gets nearly down to the bottom and notices a dead mouse in the chilli. The sight was very shocking and he immediately pukes up the chilli back into the bowl.
The old 49'er turns and says, “Yep, that’s as far as I got, too”
Did you know that Mitt Romney spent $800m on not becoming president of the USA. I spent 65p and got the same result, except I have a Mars Bar....
Who says so? Well, Sandy Gerrard says so (who he/she?) writing in The Heritage Journal, the flaccid, online, and highly amusing organ of Heritage Action (aka Heritage Fiction).
According to Gerrard’s piece, written in the Journal’s excruciating Junior Common Room style, asserts fairly implausibly it has to be said, that English Heritage, the UK Government's statutory adviser on the historic environment and funded in part to the tune of £96-million, doesn’t know the difference between Listing and Scheduling! Really? Can this be true?
Is English Heritage’s Chief Executive, Simon Thurley who’s been at the helm since 2002, and has led the organisation through a major modernisation programme, be the incompetent duffer Gerrard alleges!
Has Thurley and his team screwed-up? Can it be they don’t know thier heritage arses from their heritage elbows as the Journal and Gerrard (who he/she again?) plainly suggest? I think we should be told.
"Some archaeologists are like football coaches: Smart enough to understand the game, but stupid enough to think it's important!"
The valuable contribution metal detectorists are making to the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s database, along with their additional contributions to other fields of academic study such as ancient jewelry design, and numismatics, as two examples, is truly immense. The heritage is infinitely richer by their sterling efforts and they are adding valuable information at a greater rate than most other forms of research.
However, there is ‘something’ out there and just gagging to fall within the range of a metal detector; an artefact unlikely to have the local FLO cartwheeling across the floor in delight, although, when ‘it’ is finally recovered it’ll likely as not, make as big a splash in the newspapers as a roman hoard of silver. To find it, we have to journey back in time – about 72-years…….
In 1940, Soviet Russia’s military intelligence directorate (the GRU) infiltrated their top agent, a highly accomplished and decorated spy-runner and wireless operator, into middle England, where, from a series of innocuous addresses in and around Oxfordshire, the agent kept the Kremlin informed of Britain and the West’s atomic bomb program.
Then from 1941 until 1950, this same GRU officer was the artery through which the West’s atomic and allied intelligence secrets hemorrhaged to Moscow. But one stolen secret failed to make it back to Stalin’s desk for the simple reason that its burial spot couldn’t be remembered!
That secret remains to this day, somewhere, buried in an Oxfordshire copse. It only remains for a determined detectorist armed with a map, permission to search, and a modern metal detector to find the key to unlocking one of the great espionage mysteries of recent years. Were this vital artefact ever to see the light of modern day, then it might well slot the final piece of an espionage jigsaw into place to reveal the identity of an as yet, unknown Soviet agent. So what do we know about the GRU’s top agent in Britain?
Though Codenamed, ‘Sonya’, her real name was Ursula Kuczynski a GRU Colonel, arguably one of history’s greatest and most courageous spies. She made her mark in 1930’s Manchuria, where she organised Chinese resistance groups in a guerrilla war against the occupying Japanese forces. Following a brief sojourn in Geneva, she pitched up in Britain in 1940, arriving via Lisbon and Liverpool, on a British passport obtained through marrying fellow GRU agent, Leon Beurton, a Briton. In early 1940 she was firmly ensconced in lodgings in rural Oxfordshire.
Using her considerable intelligence tradecraft skills, she built her radio transmitter (or ‘music box’ as GRU slang has it) from ostensibly innocent looking everyday items during her brief stay at the Rectory in Glympton, the home of the Parish Priest, the Reverend Cox and his wife. The Morse-code transmitter key for example, was a brass ruler fastened to a pencil eraser by a rubber-band. Under pressure from the GRU to begin transmissions, new and securer accommodation where she could surreptitiously to erect an aerial was urgently required.
The hamlet of Glympton, some five miles north of Woodstock, Oxfordshire, is curiously just a stone’s throw from Winston Churchill’s wartime weekend retreat at Ditchley Park, a country mansion once owned in the 16th Century by the Lee family, one of whose more illustrious descendants was the Confederate General, Robert E Lee. Churchill and ‘Sonya’ where also neighbours when Hitler invaded Soviet Russia, and also when Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s Deputy, parachuted into Scotland in April 1941. Coincidence? Maybe not.
In late 1942 ‘Sonya’ had found secure accommodation in Oxford City, and was running the notorious émigré atom bomb spy, Klaus Fuchs, then working at Tube Alloys (the cover name for the atomic bomb project), and post-war when Fuchs was at the UK’s nuclear research facility at Harwell, near Abingdon, Berkshire, eight miles south west of Oxford. The vital importance of what she was sending back to Moscow, such that only the most trusted of GRU radio operators decoded her transmissions, which were then rushed direct to Stalin’s Kremlin desk.
Her initial GRU handler in Britain, codenamed ‘Sergei’ was Simon Kremer, who doubled as the Military Attaché at the Soviet Embassy in London. Though her GRU controllers changed over time, the codename ‘Sergei’ always remained constant. For security reasons, Klaus Fuchs always knew ‘Sergei’ by the codename ‘Alexander’.
However, with the benefit of hindsight and the post-war VENONA decrypts of Soviet radio traffic, her long run of interrupted success suggests she was shielded by someone highly placed working inside Britain’s counter-intelligence agency, MI5. The man who came under the deepest suspicion was Roger Hollis, who in 1940, was head of MI5’s ‘F’ Section, responsible for monitoring Communist agents in Britain.
Hollis’ accusers-in-chief were Peter Wright, an MI5 technical specialist, and Arthur Martin, widely regarded as the finest counter-intelligence officer of his generation. Both Wright and Martin consistently ignored the official party line that Hollis was not a Soviet mole. They argued persuasively; that without a highly placed ‘guardian angel’ somewhere in counter-intelligence, ‘Sonya’ could not have operated unhindered for so long.
Further evidence of his treachery, shows both he and ‘Sonya’ were simultaneously in pre-war Shanghai, then Geneva, and later, in Oxford where they lived not a mile apart. In 1940, Hollis’ ‘F’ Section moved to an outstation in the grounds of Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, so as to avoid the German bombing of London. ‘Sonya’ again was close by.
She had many adventures in and around the City of Oxford where her radio transmitter kept the Soviets fully informed of the UK’s atomic bomb research. Moving out of Oxford to consolidate her position in 1947, saw her setting up home at ‘The Firs,’ a large house in the north Oxfordshire village of Great Rollright. Here she lived with her husband, the Soviet spy, Leon Beurton, her two young children, father Renee, and mother, Berta. From here she ran a network of spies, one of whom worked at the De Havilland aircraft factory, who in turn surreptitiously acquired a then, state-of-the-art top secret aircraft part. This in turn was passed up the line to another GRU agent who’d infiltrated the Office of Strategic Services,’ the US intelligence organisation and forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency, inaugurated under President Harry Truman.
In her memoirs Sonya’s Rapport she records how in 1945 a GRU agent handed her a clandestinely acquired small, but vital, aircraft part. The identity of this GRU officer remains unclear, but the best fit is her brother Jürgen, who had been on the GRU payroll for some years, having first infiltrated the OSS in the early years of the war as an intelligence analyst.
Working alongside fellow Communist agent, Eric Henschke who came to Great Rollright with the package; she placed the stolen part in her son’s pram, alongside her young son, then with Henschke playing the visiting uncle, they, “Wheeled it to the edge of a wood near Great Rollright and buried it.”
When she was later contacted by GRU Headquarters for the part to be sent to Moscow via the Diplomatic Bag, she was unable to locate it spending hours in fruitless search having forgotten the precise burial spot.
Where then, is this, “Wood near Great Rollright?” Does it still exist, and is it still possible 67- years on that the part might still be recovered? The clue to the location is the pram. The best fit for her meagre description is a mature roadside copse to the north of the village, near a crossroads within the parish boundaries. A footpath runs through the copse over which a pram could be safely wheeled, and it’s a pathway where a pram could be expected to be to be seen being wheeled by strolling parents without arousing suspicions of casual passers-by.
The burial site must have been on the blind side of the footpath, towards the copse’s northern edge. The mystery part being small enough to fit comfortably enough inside a pram and without causing the child distress, suggests an object about jam jar size. As we don’t know precisely what the part was, nor its dimensions, we know that it was easily concealed in a pram next to a child, suggesting that it was a small cockpit instrument of some kind, possibly an altimeter or gun-site part, and further, small enough to be easily and quickly buried using a small hand-trowel.
But how was it possible that ‘Sonya’, a highly trained operator, could have made such a basic error and lose such a vital piece of equipment? The obvious answer is that it was Henschke who buried the part while she stood guard, watching from nearby, probably making a mental note of the spot as best she could.
One thing remains almost certain. The stolen part destined for Stalin’s desk has yet to be recovered. Its discovery would certainly narrow down those who had access to it all those years ago from any serial or batch numbers. I have visited the site several times and it’s not the sort of place, being overgrown, that any detectorist would want to hunt out of choice.
The one thing any undercover operator needs is luck, and by 1947 her ration was running out. The first official inkling MI5 had of her espionage activities came that year when a disillusioned GRU officer, Alexander Foote, a former comrade of hers from her Swiss days, defected back to the West, in Berlin, while en route to America.
Soon MI5 traced her to Great Rollright, where they sent two of their officers together with a local CID man to interview her on the pretext that her marriage to Leon Beurton was bigamous. In the presence of her terminally ill father, Renee, they broached the subject of Foote’s spy allegations, unaware she was already relaying Fuchs' atomic secrets.
She recalled the interview, “There was a knock on the door. I opened it. Two gentlemen greeted me politely, and before they had entered the room one of them said rapidly, without pausing for breath, ‘you were Russian agent for a long time, until the Finnish war disillusioned you. We know you haven’t been active in England and we haven’t come to arrest you, but to ask you for your co-operation.’ This psychological attempt to take me by surprise was so funny and inept…that I almost burst out laughing…”
She told the MI5 officers that she did not intend to discuss, nor was she obliged, to talk about a period of her life before becoming a British citizen. MI5 interpreted her reply as a tacit admission, confirming her training in Soviet anti-interrogation techniques. The ineptitude of the interview meant only one thing to her; a subtle coded warning that the net was closing. The senior officer responsible for organising the interview was Roger Hollis. By 1950, both ‘Sonya’ and Leon had flown the coup and were out of MI5’s reach securely behind the Iron Curtain.
Confirmation of her wartime, and later radio traffic, came courtesy of the VENONA post-war radio decrypts, headed by the brilliant Arlington-based crypt-analyst, Meredith Gardner. Curiously, many of her transmissions were made before Fuchs’ arrival in Britain or his willingness to betray his host country, though they were simultaneous with the work pattern of Roger Hollis, the MI5 officer who went on to become MI5’s Director General, collecting a knighthood along the way.
In the 1980’s as momentum against the now-retired Hollis increased, the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, announced the results of a secret enquiry into Hollis’ alleged treachery, to a packed House of Commons. Though Hollis’ guilt was not fully proved, significantly insiders say, neither was his innocence fully established.
Ursula Kuczynski died in Berlin in 2000. Her wartime marriage of convenience to fellow spy Leon Beurton had lasted for over fifty years. Her activities and those of the spies and traitors she ran saved the Soviets untold millions of roubles in research and development costs. In appreciation of her services, ‘Sonya,’ was twice awarded Soviet Russia’s highest military award, the Order of the Red Banner.
Whatever else one may think, her inordinate courage and resourcefulness, in a world where death awaits and strikes the unwary, proves that these qualities were not a monopoly of the West.
John Howland has written many articles about espionage and the Cold War, contributing major features to dedicated titles worldwide. He developed many high grade contacts, especially within the former Warsaw Pact intelligence agencies, and was on first name terms with two of the Warsaw Pact's top intelligence officers.
It is also said that the late Markus Wolf, chief of the foreign intelligence division of the former East German Ministry for State Security, known as the Stasi, during much of the Cold War, admired the accuracy of his work.....
The next time you reach for a tin, jar or packet of Duchy Originals produce, (Prince Charles’ marketing company) you might like to consider before purchasing the fact that he is less than sympathetic towards metal detecting. In the same way, I am less sympathetic towards him, thus, his produce never sees the inside of one’s shopping basket. If and when he takes a more sympathetic view of our hobby, and drops that outrageously expensive ‘foreshore tax’ on detectorists, is the time one will buy his products. Indeed, one is giving Cornwall as a holiday destination the old heave-ho!
Wading through some of the archaeo-blogosphere’s so-called ‘informed’ comments made about metal detecting and collecting, it soon becomes evident that many arkies seem to have an inordinate amount of spare time on their hands, and are filling-in this down-time with whining, moaning, and generally being pains in the ass.
Some of these chancers abhor the success of the outstanding Portable Antiquities Scheme with a vengeance, denigrating it at every opportunity, and along with any of their own kind who are involved in it. The more likely truth is that the green-eyed monster raised its ugly head and these interminable whingers have lost forever the chance of fame they crave, and now, in the main, are not so much archaeological has-beens, more never-were-anythings-in-the-first-place.
Metal detecting is a fact of life and here to stay, though you wouldn’t believe it from some of archaeology’s press releases. Neither can these extremists grasp the fact that more people are involved in metal detecting, and in numbers they can only dream of!
Our hobby’s huge worldwide following runs a shiver down the spine of archaeology’s fundamentalist mandarins, who see the us as the Great Unwashed, happily doing our own thing and attracting not only new recruits daily, but also public money. Even more aggravatingly for them I suspect, is that our hobby and the money it generates remains well out of their control; hence their desperation to vilify our pastime and anyone connected with it, at every turn. However, the more these fanatics bellyache and play the old soldier, the more sympathy they generate for us.
This is clearly visible in some parts of archaeo-academia who are incensed that in these tight economic times, the vitally important PAS with its massive database of detector finds, is receiving government funding, while some of archaeology’s bullshit projects are rightly, taking the hits. All archaeology should be made to pay its own way, like the rest of us and certainly be Treasury-contribution free.
Oxford Archaeology, is the well respected unit that somewhat astutely, one has to say, got in under the wire before the government lowered the fiscal boom on public spending, by recieving thousands of pounds coughed-up the big spenders, English Heritage, to research and author the influential Nighthawking report. Oxford Archaeology might not fully approve of well-organised hobbyists doing thier own well-run thing with metal detectors, but at least to thier credit they have played a straight bat.
The unprejudiced report proved beyond a doubt that the illicit or clandestine looting of archaeological sites by criminals armed with metal detectors was ill-founded and certainly not the tsunami crime wave originally spouted by those with an axe to grind and who lay all the heritage ills at the door of legitimate detectoring. It has been estimated that more people are convicted every year of riding bicycles without lights than legitimate detectorists turning to and being convicted of heritage crime. All in all, Nighthawking was money well spent. Hats off then to OA and EH!
Nonetheless, Nighthawking did little to curb the mud-slinging extremist archaeology lobby. It still huffs and puffs and bends the truth. But even they cannot escape the fact that over 812,000 detector-found items (and growing daily) are now on the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s database, now a valuable source for academic study. The PAS is a voluntary scheme and it makes good sense to drop in on your local FLO’s and let them know about your finds subject of course, to landowner approval. The brainchild of the British Museum’s Dr Roger Bland, the PAS is the envy of many countries. Even so, archaeology’s out-of-control reptilian element are actively vilifying the PAS with accusations ranging from those of mishandling the heritage through to being somehow involved in covering up the names of violent criminals. It beggars belief.
A bloke walks into a Glasgow library and says to the prim librarian,
'Excuse me Miss, dey ye hae ony books on suicide?'
To which she looks at him over the top of her glasses and says,
'Bugger off, ye'll no bring it back!'
Ill Met by Sunlight
(by Nigel Paul, Heritage Fiction Press, £55.00. To be published early in 2014)
This is the latest slapstick adventure in Nigel Paul’s Tolkein-esque, rib-tickling series. This time there’s a twist-in-the-tail. Our hapless heroes, Barford Bond and his ageing relic-recovery sidekick, Nigella de Swift, mince their way across the universe to infiltrate the ‘malevolent ones’, the mysterious sect who shun publicity and daylight, but are always rumbled.
The ‘malevolent ones’ as fans of the torpid twosome will know, worship the Coin Lords, whose drones inhabit a subterranean world in the Land of Heritage,identified only by their ragged clothing; baggy threadbare trousers, ragged sweaters, and wispy beards (and that’s only the females of their species). The ‘malevolent ones’ point their muddy fingers to accuse and curse the ‘Honourables,’ a race of peace-loving peoples, of thuggery, villainy, threatening behaviour, and selling of coins on the lucrative international markets to lower prices.
The twist comes early on page two, when Bond and de Swift are revealed to be not only avid collectors, but really are ‘malevolent ones’ themselves, being accomplished false accusers possessed of vivid imaginations with persecution phobias. When all is finally revealed, the hapless pair banished to the Land of Fib, a barren place ruled over by the Coin Lord, His Malignance, Pinder Amick.
Nigel Paul’s latest work has received critical reviews and is not expected to make the Best Sellers list, though has received many nominations for the prestigious Children’s Reading Award of Poland (CRAP for short). A pre-publication rewrite has to be on the cards if he's to add credibility to his turgid prose style. Here’s what some of the more influential heritage magazines have to say about Ill Met by Sunlight:-
Stout Standards Literary Supplement: “Nothing new here. We guessed they were collectors on page one!”
Nighthawking Today: “What? £55 a copy? And they call us thieves?”
Heritáge de Jour áNal (France): “Complet merde!”
Archaeology in Academia Review (York Edition): “Nigella! Cor, what ‘kin stunna!”
Polski przeglad skarb: “Przesyla nam ze chlopcy rundy?”
One day a city arkie and a country treasure hunter were walking through the woods returning from a day’s mutual co-operation at an excavation, when they came across some rabbit turds. The arkie looked down and asked, “What are they?”
“Oh, they're smart pills,” said the treasure hunter. “Eat them, and they'll make you smarter”
So the arkie picked up a handful and ate them. “Yuk, they taste like crap.”
“See?” said the treasure hunter, “You're getting smarter already.”
Archaeology Professor: I stole relics
(A summary of a report in the 1 March 2011 issue, of the Chicago Tribune)
Daniel Amick, an archaeologist at Chicago’s Loyola University, pleaded guilty to stealing seventeen historical artefacts, including arrowheads, from an archaeological site in New Mexico in violation of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, during two field trips to New Mexico, according to Kenneth Gonzales, U.S. attorney for the District of New Mexico.
In his defense, Amick's attorney asserted that the professor's decisions were driven by academic pursuit, and that had Amick applied for a research permit, he would have been granted one, the attorney added.
Amick was sentenced to a year’s probation....
According to Loyola University’s website, Amick received his Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico in 1994. Amick teaches introductory anthropology courses, including Anthropology, as well as more advanced classes such as Archaeology Lab Methods.
Dr. Amick strongly believes that archaeology is best learned by doing and he encourages interested students to contact him about opportunities for gaining practical experience in archaeological research at Loyola. Many students have used these projects to complete credits in Independent Study or Fieldwork, Mulcahy Scholarships, or Senior Honors Theses.
Dr. Amick is a past president of the Plains Anthropological Society and an Associate Editor of Current Research in the Pleistocene. He maintains memberships in the Society for American Archaeology; American Anthropological Association; Midwest Archaeological Conference; American Quaternary Association; and Illinois Archaeological Survey.
What I find curious, if not downright mystifying; is why the Society for American Archaeology allows a convicted thief, especially one who apparently specialised in heritage theft, to be a member, and why Loyola University turns a blind eye. Perhaps they are unaware of Amick’s crime? If they are, perhaps they choose not to attach too much importance to it since heritage crime may not be the heinous villainy many archaeologists would have us all believe?
Curiously, the Society for American Archaeology’s website (SAA) grandly trumpets:
"The remains of prehistoric and historic cultures belong to all of us. When artefacts are stolen and archaeological sites are destroyed, we lose important clues about the past-- forever!"
On the 31st October 2012, I emailed the SAA asking: “If I were convicted of stealing artefacts from a heritage site, would this conviction bar me from membership of the SAA?” By the 7th November, I’d not received a reply so I fired off another, this time asking, “I note the following on your website and am wondering how this squares with the membership of Dr Daniel S Amick of Chicago's Loyola University, in view of his conviction for stealing artefacts from a historic site in New Mexico.” Adding, “Any reply you care to make will form part of my research into heritage theft committed by archaeologists.”
Since replies have not been forthcoming (at the time of writing 7th November) I am left with the overriding impression that the SAA’s honourable reputation is now seriously tarnished, which leads me on to the conclusion that two sets of ethics endure in the world of archaeology; one for archaeologists caught with their fingers in the cookie jar, whilst, non- archaeologists (you and me) who carry on a lawful, wholesome, and legitimate pastime, are to be pilloried to kingdom come with dubious accusations and innuendo.
However, what this particular archaeological debacle highlights is that Amick’s conviction proves beyond a shadow of doubt that Paul Barford’s banal, obnoxious accusations against metal detectorists, coin collectors, and treasure hunters are well wide of the mark. It follows that heritage crime is seen and dealt with far more leniently in the US, than here in the UK, or Amick would now be picking cotton instead of holding down a prestigious appointment at a leading university. Indeed, some believe so-called heritage crime is in reality, an ersatz criminality, invented by archaeology as a whole, to protect jobs, and to safeguard and maintain lucrative prices on the international antiquities market.
To date, no treasure hunter has committed so serious a heritage crime as to warrant the death penalty; this dubious honour falls to Ralph Pinder-Wilson. Daniel Amick is in notorious company. Pinder-Wilson, a former Keeper of Antiquities at the British Museum; a former Director of the British Institute of Afghan Studies in Kabul; former Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries; was nabbed in 1982 with a stash of gold coins in his sticky mitts that he’d hoiked out of excavations near Kabul, in Afghanistan; subsequently found guilty and sentenced to death.
Following some delicate horse trading between the Foreign Office and the Afghan authorities, the sentence was commuted to ten years imprisonment but after a few weeks in an Afghan slammer, returned to Britain. The whereabouts of the gold coins, or what became of them, remains a mystery. On his return Pinder-Wilson was warmly greeted by many in the archaeological world to resume academic life without censure.
The charges against him, his supporters argued, were ‘trumped up’ or, in the patois of the underworld, “He wuz dun up like a kipper, guv!” Yet another fine example of archaeological hypocrisy you might say?
The Amick case proves beyond all reasonable doubt that not everyone in the heady world of archaeology shares the notion that heritage theft is a serious offence….more on a par, probably, with riding one’s bicycle without lights. Curiously, the hobby’s representative bodies the NCMD, FID and the FMDAC take a tougher stance on heritage wrongdoing. Whilst its long been widely recognised that metal detectorists, treasure hunters, and relic hunters, do not hold the monopoly of heritage villainy, the activities of Pinder-Wilson and Amick underline this belief conclusively.
Though keen to heap scorn on metal detectorists over their legitimate finds, Barford shows a distinct lack of vigour when it comes to tracking down the pilfered booty of his fellows. The flawed logic that drives his jihad does for his credibility, what the Boston Strangler did for door-to-door salesmen.
Applying his absurdly unsound logic to other sports, pastimes, even criminality, then all clay-pigeon shooters are armed bank robbers; all fly-fishermen are salmon and trout poachers, and all tomb robbers, archaeologists....
First of all my heartfelt thanks to Lenny Casilla of Burlington, Ontario, who sent me the DVD I've been searching for in recent months....Garrett's Southwestern Treasures...The Treasures of Mexico .....Gold and Treasure Adventures. Both of these superb recordings are re-mastered from the 1979 and 1980 originals.
They both brought back many happy memories of my early days as an embryo treasure hunter and artefact collector, and features such luminaries of the detecting world as, Frank Mellish, 'Hardrock' Hendricks, A M Van Fossen, Hollywood 'Heavy,' actor John Quade, and of course Charles Garrett himself. A 24-carat trip down memory lane and a piece of treasure hunting history. Great stuff."Thanks Ole Pal!
This from the ‘Warsaw Windbag’s’ blog…. Replying to someone daring to take issue with one of his usual pitiful postings:-
28 July 2011. He said...
“Go on, tell us your real name. If you are who you say you are - an uninterested bystander - you have no reason to hide your identity, do you? You express an opinion, and I cannot see why anyone not actually involved would not be prepared to sign their real name below it.
I am getting fed up with all these sock puppets who can't honestly say who they are and discuss something out in the open.(my highlighting)
I put this stuff out under my own name and for my pains reportedly get insulted by name by your precious CPAT when they talk to metal detectorists and Women's Institute members. So the least you can do if you want to discuss what I say is just put your own name at the top of the post.”
This hokum, believe it or not, issues forth from the very man who begs, pleads, and snivels with Dick Stout NOT to show the photograph we have of him in case he’s recognised by the people on the receiving end of his obnoxious, inaccurate invective, whilst coyly keeping his archaeological credentials [presumably he has some?] close to his chest.
His double standards apparently know no bounds. Simultaneously setting himself up as some kind of antiquities caped crusader [Pratman?] with his aged dopey sidekick, the pisspoor Heritage Fiction scribbler, Gerry Attric, he lambasts coin-collectors and treasure hunters alike, while he himself is amassing a collection of antique Japanese prints, presumably as a hedge against inflation (though is scathing of anyone else who does the same), and has the nerve to assert that his class of ‘collectables’ falls outside the level of scorn he pours over others!!
It gets better. Recently he’s taken to slagging-off the Bulgarians, virtually accusing the entire race of collective antiquities theft. I’m not sure how the Bulgarians will react to his latest smears, but if I was him, I’d certainly watch out for anyone creeping up behind me with an umbrella! He also lurks in detecting forums looking for snippets of chat or anything else he and his weird old sidekick can spin into anti-detecting propaganda in what amounts to internet voyeurism.
Of course when it comes to antiquities harvesting, his knowledge is presumably peerless, having studied under James Mellaart, of whom Wikipedia describes : (November 14, 1925 – July 29, 2012) was a British archaeologist and author who is noted for his discovery of the Neolithic settlement of Çatalhöyük in Turkey. He was expelled from Turkey when he was suspected of involvement with the antiquities black market. He was also involved in a string of controversies, including the so-called Mother goddess controversy in Anatolia, which eventually led to his being banned from excavations in Turkey in the 1960s.
Well, well, fancy that! So, ‘Ole Jim-Boy was a bit of a tea-leaf was he? Casual observers might wonder why Pratman devotes more time to slagging-off legitimate amateur historians and collectors, than to tracking down those priceless artefacts Good ‘Ole Jim-Boy hoiked out of his Turkish excavations and flogged on the international antiquities market.
Look out, he’s behind you!
In all the work we do, our most valuable asset can be the attitude of self-examination. It is forgivable to make mistakes, but to stand fast behind a wall of self-righteousness and make the same mistake twice is not forgivable.
That’s it then. Channel 4 have finally pulled the plug on the programme that began life as a great televisual idea, but one that soon became populated by people who simply begged lampooning and mickey-taking… none more so perhaps than its main presenter, the detector-hating, Tony Robinson. No mean feat either since he was up against two buffoons for the honours; one with cotton wool hair and garish sweaters like a refugee from Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat; and the other who talked and aped the West Country brogue, “Ooh aaah,” sporting a feather in his hat, all of which, to all intents and purposes, suggested to me at least, was a country bumpkin.
Doubles all round, barman!
In 1987 when Treasure Hunting with a Metal Detector first hit the bookshelves it caused a minor sensation, which then turned into a major a revolution. Until its publication, few of us had ever ventured further into the water deeper than shallow rock-pools. Crucially, the authors featured several of the leading water hunters of the day, highlighting their techniques and machinery; it was a treasure hunters’ Who’s Who, including such names as the shallow water specialists Myron Higbee and Wallace Chandler; the now legendary deep-water hunters Kip Wagner, and AM Van Fossen; Jack Haskins, and Johnny Berrier, and of course, a certain Scuba diving guru, one Scott Mitchen
The book illustrated what could also be achieved by non-diving hobbyists using advanced, fully submersible (read, waterproof) metal detection equipment in shallow water, with Mitchen highlighting the potential accessible to amateur, Scuba diving treasure hunters. Mitchen back then, was a brilliant forward-thinking pioneer, and is today, still at the top of his game.
“Racing”, as racehorse trainers tell us, “Improves the breed”, and so it was with water hunting, back then, metal detecting’s new frontier. Inevitably, the inexorable R&D advance into surf hunting machinery began, leading to the kind of all-terrain metal detectors we know and enjoy today.
The leading detectors of the time were Fisher Research Labs’ VF-TR (voice frequency, transmit/receive) 1280-X Aquanaut; Whites PI 1000; and Garrett’s XL500 pi. I used an Aquanaut in Spanish waters many years ago and fully understand the reasons behind its awesome reputation. The XL 500 pulse induction was the machine Mel Fisher used to discover the wreck of the multi-million dollar treasure ship,Atocha, and a machine with which I could locate beach coins at 18”. My subsequent Test Report on the XL500 saw me banned from ever writing again for Treasure Hunting magazine, a report that caused howls of anguish from rival dealers to Garrett’s then UK agents, Joan Allen.
I never did get my mitts on a Whites PI 1000, though it had nevertheless, a fearsomely good reputation....
Treasure Hunting with a Metal Detector, In, Around, and Under Water, by Steve Blount, Lisa Walker and the editors of Pisces Books.
(ISBN# 0-86636-049-2) PISCES Books (1987 address) One School Street, Glen Cove, NY 11542
I’m not sure of current availability, but grab a copy if it ever comes your way. I must thank the publishers, retrospectively, for their permission to reproduce the photos.
If you haven’t already seen it, take a peek at Garrett’s website and check out their video, River Finds II, starring the acclaimed Maryland relic hunter, Beau Ouimette, and Garrett’s Steve Moore, armpit-deep in water putting the ATGold/Pro series through their aquatic paces.
The opening sequence is quite superb in the style of the ‘Monster from the Black Lagoon’ and superb treasure hunting entertainment. It’s credit to Garrett’s ace cameraman, Brian ‘Stingray’ Mckenzie. The final few frames of the whirling river-sky-river-sky-trees-water sequence are not arty-crafty camera work, but Stingray’s unscheduled demonstration of how his ‘pro’ video equipment is as watertight as the ATGold/Pro.
Just as well the mic was mute!
Many years ago when the anti-metal detecting lobby was in full flow with its carefully orchestrated STOP campaign, backed unsurprisingly by the Council for British Archaeology [who emerged from it all with egg all overs its collective chops], arkies up, down, and across the length and breadth of this Sceptered Isle, clamoured to get on telly or into the local newspapers and media. It was as though their ascent up the greasy pole of promotion was commensurate with the level of malice they could exercise in slagging-off metal detecting. Evidence, or proof of criminality, was unsurprisingly, absent from their propagandist agenda. Nothing new here then you might say.
One of their number, an especially arrogant and ill-informed reptile, raised the ire of my detecting pal, the renowned Ron Scearce, by claiming on local television that ‘Treasure hunters with metal detectors’ had raided a particular site, which when the camera panned over the holes, and there were many, had without doubt been scratched out by rabbits. “I’m having this **** “, Ron told me one convivial evening over several glasses of Lagavulin. “You up for some fun?
A couple of days later, Ron, me and another co-conspirator, Pete the archaeological hat, strode into the museum where the reptile hung out. “We’d like to see the plans and extent of **** ******.” [a roman site at the northern end of the County].
“Of course,” says the secretary and we follow her to the inner sanctum. There, lurking in the shadows was the reptile, trying to look busy but ear-wigging in our conversations. So we fed him.
“Ok,” says Ron, “We’ll drive the digger along the south side of the Scheduled Site but still on the adjacent private land. I reckon three to four foot depth should get us down to the roman layers and into the temple.”
At this the reptile could no longer contain himself. “Good morning gentleman, can I help you at all?”
“And you are?” inquires Ron.
“I’m ********** the County Archaeologist.”
“What makes you think you can help us?” Ron pressed on.
“Well you mentioned diggers and roman layers,” says the reptile.
“Well, are you archaeologists? Historians, or what?”
“What we are is not your concern,” says Ron, drawing himself up to his full six-foot two-inches, then peering down at his hapless victim adds, ”As what we will be doing is not within your sphere of influence and when, or if our research endeavours fall within the remit of a County Council employee, namely you, we’ll let you know. Now, if you don’t mind, we’d like to get on with our planning.” We all turned away and began pouring over the plans, stroking chins, and nodding in agreement. The reptile hovered in a state of near apoplexy with our deliberate throwaway lines such as, “Current prices…” and, “Super deep…” and, “Treasure rewards shared with the landowner…”
Some days later, while detecting on adjacent land, the neighbouring farmer on whose land we had kidded the reptile about the trench, called us over. “Here,” he said, “I’ve had a visit from ******* and he reckons someone’s going to dig a bloody great trench over there, and threatened me if I allowed it to be dug.”
“Good Lord,” says Ron, “What did you say?”
“I told him to F*** off as it was my land, and where he reckoned the trench was going to be dug was not part of the villa.” That lunchtime in the nearby pub we all had good laugh with the farmer over several beers.
“Oh, by the way, Ron,” said our farmer pal, “This has got your bloody fingerprints all over it. He was a Bolshie sod and I don’t reckon he’ll be round here anymore.”
And so it was....
A man goes into a restaurant and is seated. All the waitresses are gorgeous. A particularly voluptuous waitress wearing a very short skirt comes to his table and asks, "What would you like, sir?"
He looks at the menu and then scans her beautiful frame top to bottom, then answers, "A quickie."
The waitress turns and walks away in disgust. After she regains her composure she returns and asks again,"What would you like, sir?" Again the man thoroughly checks her out and again answers, "A quickie, please."
This time her anger takes over, she reaches over and slaps him across the face with a resounding "SMACK!" and storms off.
A man sitting at the next table leans over and whispers, “Hey pal, it’s none of my business, but I think it's pronounced 'quiche'."
Marino Massimo De Caro is a name that might not currently be on everyone’s lips, and especially not, it seems, on those of a certain Brit arkie working in Poland, whose whole life revolves around tracking down anyone who thieves heritage items.
De Caro, a director of 17C Girolamini Library in Naples, is allegedly accused of stealing from his own library, 4,000 (yes four Grands’ worth ) of rare and priceless books and manuscripts including works by Galileo Galilei. Arrested and remanded in custody, De Caro, is expected to be arraigned on a number of charges including; theft, embezzlement and criminal association. It also alleged that he stole priceless volumes from libraries in Verona, Padua and Monte Cassino.
Four others (none treasure hunters or metal detectorists by the way), have also had their collars felt by the Carabinieri and include such luminaries as Stephane Delsalle (a French lawyer), and Sandro Marsano (a priest) who worked in the library and who is alleged to have de-activated the alarm system.
And where is the Warsaw Windbag on all of this? Shstumm! Not a word. It never happened guv! Curious, eh?
Nah, not really! But then what can you expect from a man who denigrates anyone who collects antiquities but who is an avid collector himself. PB, you really are hopeless. A sad case.
‘Tis now the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, and what better supper to come home to after a bitterly cold day’s treasure hunting than a tasty, filling stew. So, what to serve the returning ravenous hunter? Two fingers of Scotch (vertical not horizontal) is a good starter and very popular at Chez Howland, though the Memsahib looks on slightly askance! Though this rip-roarer of a stew is both easy and simple to prepare, it’s unpretentiously succulent. Yum!
You’re gonna need:
Dick, I know you cook with wine, but with this recipe, you actually pour it in!
My thanks to all twenty-three respondents who, so far, replied to my earlier appeal for information. I have set up a card index. As suggested by one respondent, Skype will indeed be very helpful in disseminating data, and special thanks to HC (Sussex), PD (York), and TH (SW1). Brave, and encouraging indeed!
The card index will be destroyed – shredded – upon the project’s completion.
Garrett’s ATGold operates on the gold and silver-sensitive 18 kHz frequency spectrum, and comes armed with the Celtic Stater-busting ‘standard’ 5”x8” DD coil. he ATPro International on the other hand, uses the more all-purpose 15 kHz frequency and is equipped as standard with the 8”x11” DD coil. Both coils are interchangeable between machines.
If say an operator fits the 8”x11” (ATPro) coil to the ATGold, the operating frequency of 18 kHz remains constant. Conversely, if the 5”x8” (ATGold) is fitted to ATPro, its operating frequency remains constant.
Changing coils between these two machines does not affect operating frequencies.
What is psychosis?
A person who is suffering from an episode of psychosis can have problems recognising what is real and can have difficulty thinking clearly as they normally would. When someone is affected in this way they may have unusual or strange ideas, they may hear or see things which are not real and they may have problems managing their emotions. They may also have difficulties organising their thoughts so that their speech may seem disorganised and illogical at times. Psychosis has also been described as a condition that causes a person to lose contact with reality. Psychosis can severely disrupt a person's life. The person experiencing psychosis may have difficulty maintaining their usual level of functioning in school, work or homelife and it can also interfere with a person's normal development.
Psychosis is a treatable condition and if detected and treated early can mean that the person may never suffer another episode.
This type of psychotic illness is characterised by just one psychotic symptom, delusions. This is when a person holds strong beliefs that do not fit in with other people's interpretation of reality. The person may begin to act on these beliefs and this is normally when the illness comes to the attention of others.
For many of us this will all sound very familiar and doubtless many among us will know someone displaying these distressing symptoms. With mental disorders on the rise, we should all be more tolerant, and willing, to donate to appropriate medical charities.
I am told that Poland, among other European countries, enjoys excellent mental health facilities. Of course, as in the UK, perhaps not everyone has equal access to them.
Back in the not so-dim-and-distant, Ole Stouty penned a thought provoking piece about the rising cost of our detecting hardware. As my Malamute Saloon reader knows, I’m a Garrett user for a multitude of reasons and have been, since God was a boy. Ole Ricardo on the other hand, and for equally similar reasons, is a Whites man.
But when it comes to handheld pin-pointers, I reckon the Garrett Pro-Pointer is peerless, as the equation of build-construction x performance x price clearly shows, albeit, that the Pro-Pointers comes out at the top end at £89.
What I really find bizarre, is Minelab launching a new and allegedly competitive pin-pointer in the shape of their PRO25, which to all intents and purposes to my mind at least, is a Garrett Pro-Pointer in a different wrapper with similar performance, yet costs £35 more at a staggering £125.
However, Minelab have got previous. Why for instance would anyone pay two Grand for a metal detector that’s waterproof to ten feet, when a similar machine such as the ATPro, can be had for around £600. You could, if you’ve £2000 in the kitty and are so minded, buy a top of the range Garmin handheld GPS to record one’s finds and still have enough left over to buy and an awesome ATGold as a ‘backup’. This is not to say Minelab’s CTX3030 is an underperformer, it’s just that I think it’s way-overpriced in the face of fierce and arguably better competition.
So, are we being led to believe that high price-tags equate to high-performance and quality? Yes, some of us probably believe this a notion that’s all too prevalent amongst angling’s so-called tackle queens, who, absolutely must have (and be seen with) the most expensive arm and a leg gear. Reason? It’s that same old flawed notion; I have the most expensive, therefore I am an expert.
There’s an element of the King’s New Suit of Clothes about all of this. Take some top-end trout fly reels as an example; many are priced well into three figures, being well quality pieces crafted from the finest materials, which, when looked at in the cold light of day, these reels are nothing more than devices for storing the fly-line and something that’s achievable for many £££’s and $$$’s less. The thought that sows ears are being made to look like silk purses springs to mind.
But then, if you’ve got the mazuma, why not? Feed your ego!
With the burgeoning success of the PAS perhaps the time is nigh, as some people are now suggesting, that moves be made for some of the currently scheduled off limits, but lesser sites of archaeological importance be I opened up to approved amateurs (say, FID and NCMD members, authors, historians) with metal detectors, possibly for a fee of say £50. The fee will be easily recoverable from the sale of artefacts recovered (and duly recorded), or kept for museum display if of particular interest.
We know from the archaeological record and from archaeologists themselves, that with the use of modern pesticides on farmland, artefacts are rotting away in the ground. Bearing in mind that archaeology is a re-active pursuit, lacking the resources to be pro-active, and in general tends to be a loose confederation of warring academics.
All finds made by ‘licensees’, so the thinking goes, would be recorded and collated by local FLO’s forming a database for each site. Not only could this harvest much-needed revenue for the hard pressed FLO system (so I’m told), but will increase the sale of finds bringing an even a wider selection of artefacts to the attention of collectors and numismatists. The Roman and Celtic markets in the US for example are huge money spinners for sellers and dealers alike.
But with public interest in matters historical, and collecting, at an all-time high, and with 650,000 metal detectors sold over recent years, then opening up lesser sites is a viable proposition to explore. I am told that certain MP’s would be receptive, along with some archaeologists, and the notion might not fall upon stony ground.
Interesting times ahead…..
Ole Pee Bee, arrogant arkie; hated, loathed and treated as a comic figure in equal measure. He writes demanding answers from all amd sundry and gets royally pissed off when people and organisations who can see where he's coming from, tell him to piss off. I think he's been rubmled as an oddball finge arkie; another of those academic vandals who would see the Crosby Garret Helmet rot in the ground than be found by a detectoristl Best then to leave the poor sod well alone. Hre's harmless....
In short, they are the scrapings of the archaeological barrel, as one of their number recently described them to me over a recent and very civilised whisky or three.
This was written by Paul Barford on his blogsite, Thursday, 27 September 2012:
"...Lincolnshire County Council's historic environment officer Sarah Grundy says "genuine metal detecting enthusiasts" (ie enthusiastic artefact hunters and collectors with genuine metal detectors) have "been very helpful" during surveys carried out on a Roman site at Marton, Lincolnshire so presumably she's not too worried about them spending their time when not working on her project plundering Lincolnshire's historic environment which she is paid (presumably) to protect for collectables to hoard away or sell on..."
Why and on what evidence does Barford, an itinerant archaeologist, and translator, suggest that Sarah Grundy is , "...not too worried about them [genuine metal detecting enthusiasts] spending their time when not working on her project plundering Lincolnshire's historic environment which she is paid (presumably) to protect for collectables to hoard away or sell on."
Put another way, he is suggesting that she is aiding and abetting heritage theft, which to my mind at least, and without any evidence to back up the outragious claim, is possibly actionable at law, and that those 'helpful detectorists' who have helped her with her project, have gone on to, and with her apparent blessing, committed heritage theft, is similarly actionable.
It will be interesting to see how, when, and if, the CBA comes to her aid to defend her sullied good name, or indeed Lincs CC for that matter, or whether the NCMD has the stomach to take up the cudgels on behalf of those detectorists dubbed unfairly as looters, and who may well be their members.
The alternative is that Barford is correct and that Sarah Grundy and her helpful detectorists are engaged in wholesale heritage theft as he suggests.
I recently did a piece for the South Jersey MDC Newsletter some of whose members are top-notch beach hunters. I reproduce it below....
On the face of it, you’d think beachcombing finds here in the UK would be almost identical and proportional to those recovered Stateside, especially along the coastline between Delaware through to Maine. New England and ‘Old’ England are on similar parallels, and both are washed by the warmish currents of the Gulf Stream.
Yet, whilst US beach hunters in the main, recover high quality jewellery in greater quantities than their UK counterparts, the leader-board is reversed when it comes to coin recovery. The reason for this, as far as I can discern from treasure press reports and from emailing colleagues Stateside, is purely due to water and air temperatures and their effect on human behaviour.
For example, sea temperatures along the coast of Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, run at an average of between 51 to 71F in August. Whereas for the same month in the UK, average temperatures in the briny (along the popular seven miles of golden sands in the major resort of Bournemouth, where I hunt) runs to between 59F to 66F with the warmest ever recorded at 70.5F
Therefore, the obvious equation is that warm water encourages swimming and high jewellery losses (as in Florida); whilst the UK’s cooler waters being less tempting, results in fewer losses. However, warm UK air temperatures encourage sunbathing on the dry sands, with the subsequent high- loss mix of coins and jewelery.
In the past decade of searching local beaches, 90% of my jewellery finds have come from the dry sand areas, along with a very high rate of coin finds, where, following a ‘good’ summer I can locate (in a three month summer period) well over $800 in assorted coinage just by working two hours every day, either early morning or late afternoon to dusk.
This is not to say that high value jewellery does not exist below the high water mark, it’s simply that fewer of these items exist than in the US. Rather than spending time searching for fewer high value items, I opt for hunting where I know mixed finds exist in profusion and where the probability of jewellery is higher than the low tide areas.
Thus, my mantra is to hunt where people gather, not where they don’t or seldom frequent. However, following severe on-shore blows in winter I’ll hunt the low tide areas just to see what Mother Nature has thrown within range, or where she has cut ‘steps’ into the sands at the top of the beach in summer.
Currently I own and use Garrett machinery: A Sea Hunter II pi; ATPro International; and the ATGold for inland hunts. Why Garrett? Simply because I came into this great hobby well over three decades ago and Garrett was arguably the prominent manufacturer. Indeed, Charles Garrett was a role model and inspiration for us UK newbies coming into the pastime. Additionally, American-made machines far outstripped all others in performance terms and reliability. Add to this the fact that the US is the spiritual home of treasure hunting with a metal detector, the choice was inevitable.
The ATPro is my constant companion, it being ideal for beach hunting; fully waterproof to ten feet, and dust/sand proof and comes with optional fully-waterproof headphones. This gives me the advantage that I can work from the top of the beach and out into the water if I so wish, without fear of accidentally ‘drowning’ it should I drop it into the water while wading. Indeed, I often wash the control box under the freshwater taps located along the promenades.
As ATPro owners are aware, the depth penetration of this metal detector is awesome, outstripping many of those costing a Grand or more, both in the wet sand and up in the dry. In use, it’s essential to check and adjust the Ground Balance occasionally, especially when working over seawater-soaked sand. In-air tests on a UK £1-coin shows that 16”-plus inches are on offer. The secret with in-air tests is to knock-off a third and that’ll give you a rough Rule-of-Thumb for in-ground depth and it applies to any make of metal detector.
I have easily located £1-coins in dry sand at 12 inches; though have never found a ring in wet sand deeper than five inches, not because the machine couldn’t go deeper than 5-inches but simply because that was the depth of the ring!
Fresh batteries too, are an important consideration for keeping your machine at its peak performance, and with this in mind I contacted Steve Moore at Garrett regarding the urban myth that’s been doing the rounds; that rechargeables don’t give the same performance as non-rechargeables.
I asked: If I run the ATGold/ATPro on Ni-MH AA-type rechargeables with a nominal voltage of 1.2 volts, that is 4 x 1.2 volts (4.8 volts in total); will this impair performance when compared to 4 x 1.5volt (6 volts in total) non-rechargeables?
Reply: No performance loss at all. The detectors’ internal circuitry boosts the battery voltage then regulates it to a constant value; therefore performance is constant regardless of battery voltage. (Just what you’d expect from Garrett, right?)
Indeed, yes. But what about the other ‘myth’ that pinpointing drastically uses battery power? I’ve read that some hunters, both beach and inland, prefer not to use the ‘pinpoint’ mode a notion that’s prominent among owners of all makes of machine, not just Garrett.
As I’m one of those type of hunters who ‘uses the technology’ (Jeez, I’ve paid for it after all) and never noticed any extra burden on the batteries, I fired off another email to Steve Moore to get the inside track, asking “Does pinpointing drain batteries?”
Reply:“The answer is no and yes. The circuitry operation is the same for all modes -discrim, all metal, pinpoint, whatever. Same battery drain.
With the Pinpoint Mode, you are producing continuous audio while holding down that button. In a “True” All Metal mode (as opposed to Zero Mode), uch as with an AT Gold, there is a continuous threshold. Scientifically speaking, this audio does take energy to be created versus just an intermittent beep that a binary detector makes. Therefore, there is a little more energy needed to continually push sound to the speaker; the louder it is, the more energy. That said, I’m told the amount of energy is very tiny and does not swiftly run batteries down.”
So there you have it, from the horse’s mouth.....
Arguably the most dangerous control knob on any metal detectors is the DISCRIM control. Set it too high and all you’ll be doing is taking a pleasant walk along the beach. Set it too low and you could be a candidate for a spinal clinic with all the junk you’ll be bending over to collect. There is back-saving a middle way though.
First of all, knock out all things ferrous. That said, steel bottle caps will still sound off as coins owing to their coin-like shape, but this anomaly is easily overcome by using the Iron Discrim and Iron Audio circuits in tandem, relegating bottle caps to history whilst maintaining maximum depth penetration.
What happens is this: As the search coil nears a ferrous object (or bottle cap) there is a distinct ‘fuzzy-buzz’ in the headphones, followed by the clear signal of the object, then another ‘fuzzy-buzz’ as the coil passes away.
Fine tune by switching to PRO Mode/ All Metal/ and set the Iron Discrim between ’35 and 39’’ and Iron Audio ‘On’. With this setting you will locate aluminium pull-tabs usually showing on the Digital readout scale between ’53 to 55’, but seeing that thin-section gold rings (those usually carrying gemstones) also fall into this readout band, I always dig. Most silver paper will also be eliminated without any loss of depth.
What do you suppose the two rings in the photo have in common? On the ATpro’s DISCRIM Scale (and most other machines too I suspect) the one on the left with the huge emerald set in 18-carat gold and platinum and valued at $9,600 falls into the lower FOIL sector having a digital readout of ‘44’ while the triple-diamond jobby set in 18-carat gold, worth $2,800 registers ’53,’ the same as most cola/beer can tabs. Okay, you say, so what do they have in common? The novice user sees them as JUNK!!!
The same parameters apply whether here or in the US. First off, expensive machines in the hands of a novice don’t make better finds, in exactly the same way that the priciest golf clubs won’t help a novice golfer putt, or drive better.
Neither will you find coins/jewellery where none are like to be found! However, if you apply your talents to the most obvious spots on the beach you will be successful to a greater or lesser degree, even with a cheapo machine. That said, an expert hunter equipped with some ‘tasty’ equipment will come off the line like nitro-burning dragster.
Try not to be a Jack-of-All-Trades, but master of one. Pick your beach and stay with it, through Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Make a note of its moods and how the sand moves and where it move to. A beach is almost a living thing and changes its face according to the prevailing winds and tides.
Beachcombing and the ability to ‘read’ a beach is a task you’ll never fully master, because it’s a continuous learning curve. You’ll gain experience but you’ll never be fully able to answer all the questions and this is what makes it fun.
Though I know the moods of my local beach it often throws a curved ball. I don’t know it all, and never will, but I have amassed enough local knowledge to give me more than a fighting chance of success.
David Wood, the Federation of Independent Detectorists’ PRO is always good for a statistic or three and he fails to disappoint yet again. For example, 650,000 metal detectors have been sold in Britain pointing up two salient points. Firstly, that archaeology would give its collective balls for this number of disciples, yet sadly, though archaeology is now a comparatively minor following, it still tries to exert more influence than it deserves; the tail tries to wag the dog.
Second, the figure of 650,000 has not been lost on the politicians either. Sensibly, the PAS was created to tap into this vast public resource of enthusiasm for all things historical, and to avert the heritage falling into the hands of cultural fascists. Indeed, many in archaeology, six thousand in fact, owe their livelihoods to the metal detecting/treasure hunting hobby (an unpopular fact for many on the ‘Barfordian’ scale of things), witnessed by the vast number of finds (750,00 at the last count) coming to light for conservation and academic study.
This huge database of finds provides a major and important source of study. So, is all rosy in the garden? Not a bit of it. Take the Crosby Garrett Helmet, arguably the greatest archaeological find so far.
On 9th September 2010, the Senior Curator of Romano-British Collections British Museum, Dr Ralph Jackson wrote of the Crosby Helmet, “It is a find of the greatest national (and, indeed, international) significance, both for its intrinsic interest and for the additional light it can be expected to shed on the manufacture and supply of prestige military equipment as well as on military dispositions in northern Britain in the decades preceding, spanning and following the construction of Hadrian’s Wall. In addition, as an object of beauty and top-quality craftsmanship and a most powerful iconic symbol of the might of Rome it has an obvious display potential, and that potential would undoubtedly best be realised in the context of the region in which it was found.”
However, Paul Barford, a British archaeologist/translator (a knowledgeable antique Japanese print collector by the way) working, and hiding his identity, in Poland, reckons Dr Jackson and by association the entire PAS, has got it entirely wrong. Here’s a slice from his recent blog on the Crosby Garrett Helmet, complete with odd grammar.
“I myself would have preferred the pieces of the helmet to still be resting as stacked fragments in the unthreatened deposit where they have lain safely for the last two thousand years or so. I would have preferreed them, and that whole deposit, to be excavated properly ("professionally") should it have been accidentally discovered. That is preferable to having it hoiked out wholesale by Treasure hunters with metal detectors…”
Previously he’s opined that the Crosby Garrett Helmet should have been sold on the open market! Barford is a man of mixed and confused views, suggesting to me at least that, all is not right with this fine academic man.
For example, Barford chides an opponent to his views with, “…Although he hides his real identity behind a picture of an "Illyrian" helmet, it is worth noting that this dictatorial -wannabe has among his profile…”
And this from the same man who pleaded, with Dick Stout, not to print his photo for fear of dire retribution from so-called smugglers! There are of course those who claim (with some justification) that he should have thought about the consequences before gobbing-off at all and sundry, had he been that concerned about his family’s safety in the first place.
Nevertheless, the ‘biggy’ that betrays the underlying trait is that an archaeologist (Paul Barford) decrees with some venom, that the Crosby Helmet would better serve history, and research, by having been allowed to have rotted away in the ground, is simply unfathomable, and nonsensical in the extreme. That an archaeologist of his stature, allegedly engaged in the furtherance of historical knowledge, should deny and condemn by association, all 750,000 items so far studied by the PAS would be better served by a similar fate, rather than to have been found by someone (legally) with a metal detector, defies academic comprehension and a notion totally out of kilter with normality. Indeed, with the attitude he exhibits, perhaps he should never again be allowed to work in an archaeological sphere. To my mind at least, he should be ‘rested’ until he is fully fit to progress.
However, considering what has gone before, that in the past weeks I have made what I now regard to be unfair targeting, lampooning, at Paul Barford’s expense in the light of his muddled thinking, I offer him my unreserved apologies, both to his friends, and family, for making him the butt of my jokes. I have wrongly made fun of someone, who to my mind at least, needs help and understanding in coming to terms with a hobby that is firmly established and well respected. My humour, sometimes off-beat, sometimes vicious, should not have been directed at Paul Barford at this presumably trying time in his life.
I can only wish him well for the future....
RE: Could You Really Vote for a Man who Thinks the Garden of Eden Was In Missouri...
Over the weekend, Britain's most prominent atheist Prof Dawkins gave his views on Mitt Romney's Church of Latter Day Saints "no matter how much you agree with Romney's economic policy, can you really vote for such a massively gullible fool?" he asked. Obviously many can.
Obviously the many same gullible fools who believe the Garrett Crosby Helmet should have rotted away in the ground along with all detector-found objects.
I have for many years now been critical of televisual programmes of an archaeological nature, with ‘Gobbo’ Robinson’s, Time Team, arguably the scrapings of the barrel. Currently, BBC Two’s three-parter about the Vikings presented by the Scots archaeologist, Neil Oliver, is frankly, an improvement on anything Gobby Robbo has come up with, though his (Andy Murray-esque) monotone Scots bur grates on my ear at least, to the point where I could have happily buried the hippy-haired Oliver in one of the Viking burial mounds he so drools over.
Next day (September 12th) in the influential broadsheet, The Daily Telegraph, their ace TV critic, Benji Wilson, ran nearly a quarter page mickey-taking critique of the programme under the strapline: Even the Vikings can’t turn archaeology into good TV. Was I hallucinating? Here was heretical stuff. Was an influential broadsheet journo really echoing my criticisms? Er…well... yes! Benji Wilson ended his gutting of Oliver’s televisual offering with:-
“…archaeology does not make for great TV (with deepest apologies to a decade of Time Team). Nothing moves, and television needs movement or it might as well be a photo album that accompanies a radio programme.”
Oh, there’ll be a wailing and gnashing of teeth in Warsaw and Jorvik. Ho, Ho!
“I want to be taken seriously by archaeology,” is the plaintive cry of some in this hobby. “Why won’t they accept us,” they cry as the whingeing goes on. So where’s the problem?
All these wannabe’s have to do to be taken ‘seriously’ and become ‘accepted’ (presumably with arms akimbo) is to turn up at an archaeological society meeting, renounce the fact that they’ll never use their metal detectors for independent research unless under archaeological supervision. Sign in blood they’ll never collect, or sell, any artefact without the full permission of the Society’s capo di capo and they’ll be in. Now, if this is for you – go for it! Enjoy.
Oddly however, one never hears of the arkies falling over themselves to reach out to this hobby. Funny that, innit? Anyhow, why would anyone want co-operation with archaeology when en masse they refuse to accept the hobby for what it is, rather than continually trying to change our Code of Conduct, the way we do things, and wilfully misrepresent the facts.
On that basis I am reminded of Kipling’s, The Ballad of East and West:-
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat…
That said, I never cease to be amazed at the lengths some hobbyists will go to just so the arkies can rub their noses in their excrement.
Talking of misrepresentation cop a load of the ‘ letter’ from ‘Farmer Brown’ (with of course, full name and address withheld) on the Barford / Heritage Action blogsite. Simply Google ‘Paul Barford’ then look up Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Glasgow Fourth and the Theft of Artefacts for Wednesday, 12 September 2012.
I’ve been in this game too long and can spot dodgy copy usually by-lined as, “from a staff reporter,” from a mile off.
Put another way, here’s two professional (?) historians, Paul Barford and Nigel Swift, trying to bolster their shallow evidence against our hobby, with un-attributable ‘evidence’. Were these two clowns bona fide journos, then they along with their editor, would likely as not be hauled by their balls I suspect, to appear before the Press Complaints people in double quick time. It was amateurish stuff to say the least but then,Heritage Fiction, is precisely that.
More alarmingly perhaps, is that these same two nitwits prepare archaeological reports for the consumption of students and others. What value can anyone place on their findings now? Nil, I suggest. I fact, Barfly and his idiot pal ought to be struck-off, or unfrocked, or whatever it is they do with arkies caught gilding the lily. I’m sure his publishers won’t be over-impressed either, and they’ll be asking searching questions I’m sure.
What I suggest is that you print off a copy of the piece and take it to your local FLO/Friendly Neighbourhood Arkie. Ask for their comments and if they will stand by them in public. I’ll print attributable replies.
Small wonder Barford hides his face. For the moment… at least....
Do moich wielu czytelników w Polsce, szczególnie w Warszawie Dziekuje Ci za informacje otrzymane o Teressa Witkowska. Polowanie wszystkiego najlepszego!
She was a grand-niece of Casimir Pulaski, the Father of the US Cavalry, buried here 1861 aged 69 and remembered as the, "Protectress of orphans and the poor."
The purpose of the exhumation by a team of American experts was to confirm whether or not the bones buried in Savannah, Georgia, are really those of General Casimir Pulaski, the father of the US Cavalry where under the patronage of Benjamin Franklin, he honed US cavalry tactics in the War of Independence.
Karen Burns, anthropologist of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is a member of the research group of Savannah; Paul Barford, an archaeologist with the Bureau for preservation of monuments in Warsaw; Mark Lazar and archaeologist Vitold Bujakowski of Radom.
At the siege of Savannah while attempting to rally fleeing French forces, Pulaski was mortally wounded by a round of grapeshot during a cavalry charge. The actual grape shot is displayed at The Georgia Historical Society in Savannah, Georgia. Pulaski was taken aboard the privateer brigantine, Wasp, where he died two days later, having never regained consciousness. His heroic death further boosted his reputation in America.
Some contemporary witnesses, including his aide-de-camp, claim he was buried at sea. Others however, and prime among them being the Wasp’s captain, Samuel Bulfinch, say that Pulaski was later taken ashore to Greenwich Plantation near Savannah, where he died and was laid to rest.
The remains at Monterey Square alleged to be Pulaski's were exhumed in 1996 and forensically examined during an eight-year investigation that included DNA analysis. Though it proved inconclusive, the skeletal remains are consistent with Pulaski's age.
The remains were reinterred with full military honours in 2005.
The Polish archaeologist, Vitold Bujakowski, (crouching) with his helper, Paul Barford (left).
He is fondly remembered as a US hero who fought for independence and numerous places and events are named in his honour. He is one of only seven people awarded honorary United States citizenship.
For further information of the exciting excavation follow, http://www.poles.org/teressa.html or, type, ‘THE EXHUMATION THAT WASN'T’ into your search engine for more on this fascinating mystery.
The Sierra Club and the US Forest Service were presenting an alternative to Wyoming ranchers for controlling the coyote population. It seems that after years of the ranchers using the tried and true methods of shooting and/or trapping the predator, the bunny-huggers had a "more humane" solution. What they proposed was for the animals to be captured alive, the male castrated, and let loose again and the population would be controlled.
This was ACTUALLY proposed to the Wyoming Wool and Sheep Grower's Association by the Sierra Club and the USFS. All of the ranchers present thought about this amazing idea for a couple of minutes.
Finally, an old boy in the in the back stood up, tipped his hat back and said, "Son, I don't think you understand the problem. Those coyotes ain't f***in' our sheep, they're eatin' 'em.”
“If you use re-chargeables then you’ll lose depth and overall performance,” is a notion with many believers in the detecting world. Indeed, it may well be true of some ‘manufacturer’s detectors, but not with Garrett’s ATPro’s, or ATGold’s as I already suspected before engaging in a small wager.
So, to get the inside track on this popular urban myth, and with a couple of large Chivas Regal’s riding on the outcome, I dropped a quick email to Steve Moore at Garrett asking the question:
If I run the ATGold/ATPro on Ni-MH AA-type rechargeables with a nominal voltage of 1.2 volts, that is 4 x 1.2 volts (4.8 volts in total); will this impair performance when compared to 4 x 1.5volt (6 volts in total) non-rechargeables?
No performance loss at all. The detectors’ internal circuitry boosts the battery voltage then regulates it to a constant value; therefore performance is constant regardless of battery voltage. (Just what you’d expect from Garrett, right?)
Yep, precisely what I expect from Garrett. Now, where’s that bottle of Chivas Regal?
Roy Lagal, who has died aged 89, was one of the pioneers of modern electronic prospecting and treasure hunting with a metal detector.
Born in 1923 in Caney, Kansas, Roy Lagal was a life-long prospector, treasure hunter and author of numerous articles and books on gold prospecting. Lagal spent much of his life living in Lewiston, Idaho, although he travelled throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico while hunting in the gold fields.
Roy Lagal, who sold metal detectors for many years, had a long association with Charles Garrett and with Garrett Metal Detectors. He helped invent Garrett’s Gravity Trap® gold pans and was a trusted field advisor to Charles Garrett on new product ideas for detectors.
Lagal was the author or co-author of such gold and treasure hunting books as Detector Owner’s Field Manual, Gold Panning is Easy, Electronic Prospecting, Modern Treasure Hunting, and Weekend Prospecting.
Lagal spent his final years in retirement in Fredericksburg, Texas....
In a world populated by loathsome, vocal, single-issue culture weirdo’s, heritage cranks, and so-called ‘informed’ academics (some with obvious mental aberrations) posing as experts on metal detecting, for whom anyone having the temerity to oppose their bizarre views is by their definition a looter or tomb robber, it’s refreshing to hear the deafening silence when their own side drops a clanger of monumental proportions.
It seems that an Egyptian statue that has lain in a Northampton museum for 150-years, brought to these shores by the second Marquis of Northampton, who picked it up on a trip to Egypt in 1850, is worth a staggering £2million. The true value of the 30-inch high piece was only realised following an insurance stock-take.
The statue, now at a secret location (to prevent renegade archaeologists, one supposes) will remain cloaked in secrecy until the council decides whether to sell it and the money raised used to finance local history projects.
Better I would have thought to plough the money into projects of benefit the wider community rather than into stunts that will keep archaeologists in the manner to which they have become accustomed.
Curiously, the Portable Antiquities Scheme Conservation Advice Note No.6 ‘Displaying and Collecting,’
Occasionally it is a good idea to think about what you would like to do with your collection in the long-term. As your interests develop and change, you may wish to dispose of parts of your collection. Also it might be worth thinking even further into the future, and consider how you would like to deal with your collection under the terms of your will. By selling, donating or bequeathing it to a museum, you would ensure that your collection would be kept together for others to enjoy and learn from.
Presumably, the selling of the statue donated by the Marquis of Northampton is an example of ensuring “… that your collection would be kept together for others to enjoy and learn from.”???
Simply type the above into your search engine, then sit back and enjoy. Here you’ll find the blogsite of a US Attorney, Peter Tompa, a heavy-weight coin collector with three decades of numismatics under his belt who punches well above his weight. He has written and lectured about cultural property issues for over a decade. He has lobbied members of the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch in an effort to ensure that the small businesses of the numismatic trade receive fair treatment from federal regulators (phew, the FMDAC/NCMD could do with some of that!). He currently serves as a board member of the Cultural Policy Research Institute and the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild. He takes no prisoners.
He demolishes the arguments of the anti-collecting lobby with consummate ease, especially those of the detector-hating attack puppy, Paul Barford. His annihilation of the Warsaw Windbag’s polemic is almost clinical. Unsurprisingly, Peter Tompa arrives at a similar conclusion to what many here in the UK and US think of Barford himself – obnoxious.
Here’s a sample of Tompa in action….
“I guess I should feel I am in good company. Barford regularly insults many other commentators on cultural property issues who hold contrary views to his own.
I have to assume his obnoxious posts will only continue. As a result, and given the importance of credentials in academia in general and in archaeology in particular, I got to wonder exactly what credentials Barford might have that suggests others should take him seriously. I'm afraid I have not found much information…”
“The entry has no reference to Mr Barford's educational background. I have to assume he has never received a PhD. Otherwise, there would likely be some reference to it either in the Wikipedia entry or on his own blog. I do see that Barford once had a University position in Poland, but now he is said to work as a "translator." One wonders, what happened? Certainly, as a "translator," Barford must have much free time on his hands. That would explain how he can pump out one lengthy post after another.
Barford is also said to have had a post with Poland's Ministry of Culture, but when? Was it during Poland's Communist period or later? If it was during the Communist period, one wonders whether he was sympathetic to the Communist cause. If so, this might help explain his obvious aversion to "commercial interests," as well as the US Military and US foreign policy…”
Hardly surprising I would have thought, that Barford chooses to keep his face and profile in the shadows. Obnoxious he may be, important he ain’t. As a source of parody though, along with Heritage Fiction’s scribbler-in-chief, Nigella Swift, he’s unrivalled.
Lynda, a rich blonde, buys a new automatic Jaguar XKR Sport. She drives the car perfectly well during the day, but at night, the car just won't move at all. After trying to drive the car at night for a week (but without any luck), she furiously calls the Jaguar dealers and they send out a technician to her.
The technician examines the car and finds nothing wrong with it. So he turns to Lynda and asks: "Ma’am, are you sure you are using the right gears?"
Full of anger, Lynda replies: "How on earth could you ask such a question? I'm not stupid you know! Of course I am using the right gears; I use ‘D’ during the day and ‘N’ at night."
Can the collecting of antique Japanese prints be in possible breach of Japan’s Laws for the Protection of Cultural Properties, and perhaps, suggestive of shady dealings? Or, are they, as Barford claims, “not being typically archaeological artefacts,” and thus out of scope. Well, he should know – he collects them.
However, the Cultural Property Observer’s, Peter Tompa, reckons, “…It seems to me that antique prints may potentially be subject to Japanese export controls. At best, the issue is unclear, and if so, isn’t the burden on Mr Barford to prove the negative, under the same guilty until proven innocent standard he foists on others?”
Er,…yes. Ergo, I collect, you loot?
In these straitened economic times one of the best investments as a hedge against inflation is the antiquities markets where items such as ceramics, coins, buckles and brooches from across the ages fetch high prices among ardent collectors. In fact, metal detectorists are uniquely placed to secure their financial futures judging from the number of major finds coming to light.
Once a ‘find’ has been recorded and returned to the finder, it becomes fair game for sale on the open antiquities market and the cash raised, salted away, or the item itself, kept for sale as market values increase.
Item provenance is an all-important consideration adding a huge percentage to the final selling price. Only a fool would sell ‘treasure’ without a provenance. Even single gold finds benefit from correct reporting, and if the finder wants top-dollar in the sale rooms it is crucial a FLO’s report accompanies the find.
Some of the most saleable non-metallic items are the rich terracotta red, Samian Ware pottery shards, especially those bearing the potter’s stamp thus making the piece traceable to a precise potter, location, and date. Most of these shards come to light while detecting in the ploughsoil of fields bearing roman artefacts. So when you stumble across such a piece check it out and get it provenanced with a FLO’s ticket if it bears a potter’s stamp.
Highly prized Samian Ware - the Royal Doulton of its day - graced the tables of the wealthier romans and Romano-British governors, landowners, and officials. Much of it was shipped in from France, though the earlier (and more valuable) examples are Italian. Samian Ware derives from the Mediterranean island of Samos where this style of pottery originated. Some Samian Ware was home-grown in Britain and dates to around 200AD, but is a lower quality.
James Mellaart, who has died aged 86, was in the Top Ten cadre of modern archaeologists whose careers are surrounded in controversy and intrigue. To many people, he was a gamekeeper turned poacher, blessed with a treasure hunter’s nose for exciting finds.
He hurtled to notoriety with his part in the one of the world’s oldest known Neolithic cities, Hacilar, in Turkey, where he claimed to have uncovered unique wall paintings. When challenged to produce the evidence he claimed that the city’s walls had crumbled to dust. However, early pottery shards gave meagre support his skeletal evidence.
But it was not until 1959, when his infamy took centre stage, following his claims that he had seen a hoard of fabulous gold and silver treasures along with a unique collection of bronze and silver figurines, that he claimed, had been illegally excavated at Dorak sometime between 1919 and the early 1920’s. The treasure, he further claimed, was from the royal tombs belonging to the Yortans and Trojans.
The discovery of the treasure was hotly disputed and the circumstances of their finding no less intriguing. In 1958, Mellaart claimed, he had been travelling on a train across Turkey to Izmir, when he encountered a girl on the train wearing a gold bracelet of the type that could only have been found at Troy.
Mellaart said that he told the young woman he was an archaeologist and she invited him to her home to examine the rest of this fabulous treasure. He claims he spent several days at the young woman’s home making sketches of the treasure, as she had forbidden him to take photographs.
When his report on the treasure was published in the Illustrated London News, the Turkish press promptly accused him of tomb-robbing and smuggling the multi-million pound treasure out of Turkey.
On further examination of Mellaart’s account, the young woman named as Anna Papastrati, turned out to be unknown and her address, false. The letter containing her details, when closely examined, appeared to have been type-written by his wife.
The British press came to his partial rescue portraying him as a victim of an unfounded Turkish conspiracy in that he had been a main supplier of stolen antiquities to the international black market. However, the Turkish secret police opened a dossier on him, and after three years of investigation, the Turkish press was sure he had illicitly been feeding the antiquities markets, whilst the authorities in Ankara felt sure he was the integral part of a ring to smuggle £48 million worth of Dorak’s treasure out of Turkey. The criminal case against him was dropped in 1965 in a general amnesty by Turkey’s Department of Antiquities.
Some investigators have suggested that the girl Anna Papastrati was part of a ‘honeytrap’ operation seeking to surreptitiously provenance the treasure prior to sale to a wealthy collector. Mellaart resolutely stuck to his version of events, though some other experts claim the treasure did not exist, much like Anna Papastrati.
Following this debacle, Mellaart, the apparent great survivor, went on to become Assistant Director of the British Institute of Archaeology in Ankara, and later lectured at Istanbul University, though with pressure mounting against him, he decamped to the University of London where he remained until 1991.
These are things people actually said in court. They are of Barfordian hilarity.
ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, 'Where am I, Cathy?'
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan……………………………………………………………………………….
ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.…………………………………………………………………………………………….
ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
WITNESS: We both do.
WITNESS: We do.
ATTORNEY: You do?
WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.…………………………………………………………………………………………..
ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?………………………………………………………………………………………………..
ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: He's 20, much like your IQ.…………………………………………………………………………………………………………
ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Are you kidding me?…………………………………………………………………………………………………………
ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Getting laid.……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Your Honour, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?………………………………………………………………………………..
ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Take a guess.…………………………………………………………………………
ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beardATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
WITNESS: Unless the Circus was in town I'm going with male.……………………………………………………………………………………….
ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.………………………………………………………………………………………………….
ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.……………………………………………………………………………………………….
ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 PM
ATTORNEY: And Mr Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished.…………………………………………………………………………………………………
ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.
Too bad about Ole Stouty’s collection of Yankees baseball cards. Jeez, what a coincidence too … as I have complete sets along with several, pre-season Breakfast Menus signed by Mickey Mantle, Charles ‘Casey’ Stengel, and ‘Yogi’ Berra, of which the most valuable is the one signed, “To Albie, in admiration… from the "Old Perfessor"… ‘Dutch’ Stengel,” the nickname ‘Dutch,’ was one Stengel reserved for his personal friends or those he greatly admired. Quite priceless!
The ‘Albie,’ Stengel refers to, and the object of his admiration, is undoubtedly according to picture card historian, Dick Nibbler, the legendary Albie Bogarde Snr, arguably one of the finest treasure hunters and whisky connoisseurs of modern times and a not-so-distant relative of mine.
I’ve just returned from a couple of weeks on the jolly in France and what do I find? The Gormless Ones - Pavel de Barfart and his ageing slapper, Nigella de Swift – have been winding-up all and sundry with their usual oddball brand of vilification. I never ceased to be amazed how some people can take the utterances of these two Richard-heads seriously. Apart from being influence-free, anywhere, they are widely reviled in the corridors of archaeology particularly by FLO’s - so I’m told – as PAS denigrators, a system they despise it seems more than metal detecting!! Their mealy-mouthed insults are simply insignificant daubs on the wider canvas of debate. The world has moved on and apparently left them wallowing twenty years behind the times.
Whilst I am not in the business of promoting their preposterous anti-metal detecting /PAS views, I do recommend your reading their blogs just to sample their peculiar brand of vilification and the subsequent embarrassment its caused mainstream archaeology.For while these two self-styled crusaders seek to try and capture our moral high ground, and rubbish the good name our hobby enjoys, there are it seems to be few acts of stupidity to which they are not prepared to stoop to sully metal detecting's excellent reputation and that of the PAS. Their latest exploit involves one or both of them skulking in and around metal detecting outlets in the manner of predatory homosexuals around Gents toilets. Desperate, or what? Perhaps they carry a secret craving to take up our hobby so they too can begin finding prime-time television treasures like us, and are simply trying to pick up a few tips and hints along the way.
Time to come out of the closet boys!!! You Pavel, could always wear a bag over your head dearie!
Stepping out on the beach on the first day out back from my hols, in company with hunting pal, Jack Dey, brought an 18-carat, 5.8gram, Gent’s wedding band (currently valued a tad over £140), five inches down in the dry sand with a Digital Target Readout (DTR) of ‘65’ and a high pitched audio tone.
John Winter recently carried a very informative piece on his website on this very topic...."Should I dig". In the matter of DISCIM, less is more. The less you apply the more you find but you will be digging more trash with some machines. However, with the ATPro, much of this tiresome trash digging can be eliminated. The following photo shows the Pro’s ‘flight deck’ and my beach set-up.
You’ll see that I’ve set up in the PRO MODE to capitalise on any tiny changes that occur to the target’s amplitude; loud signals suggest near- surface targets, and faint ones, those at depth. Iron Discrim is to ‘35’ thus knocking out most iron junk. The Iron Audio Mode is switched to ‘ON’. Thus set, no iron will ever be dug in error, relegating steel bottle-caps to history’s dustbin. Sure you’ll hear them, but all iron targets - large or small - will always sound off with a ‘buzz’ as the coil approaches the target, followed by a ‘good’ signal as the coil centres directly above, and followed by another buzz as the coil passes away. Simultaneously, on the DTR, a steel bottle-cap will for instance, give a ‘good signal’ of around ‘78’ or higher as the coil centres, before passing away. Just ignore and walk on by.
Additionally, by setting the Iron Audio to ‘35’ those targets below this DTR number sound off with low (trash) tones, while all targets from ‘35’ to around ‘50’ DTR scale, sound off as a mid-tones (most thin-section gold rings) while all targets from above ‘50’ produce high (desirable target )tones. Thus the operator has full control and can set the ATPro iron responses according to the prevailing conditions. This facility is especially useful when hunting inland on roman habitation sites for example. All that remains is to GROUND BALANCE the machine, drop the SENS one notch from MAX, and sally forth.
Though the PRO Mode causes minor pops and crackles in the headphones which is quite normal, these drop away allowing even the faintest signals to be easily discernible. You will be working at extreme depths.
With an identical set-up, Jack easily located a £2-coin at 14” (about finger-tip to elbow) in the dry sand, it being so deep he almost gave up on it thinking he’s misread the audio signal even though the DTR was showing ‘72’. He also located a 14-carat triple gold ring using the same set-up. The ATPro’s standard issue snub-nosed DD coil covers all the bases. Another often overlooked depth improver is to work slowly – the slower the sweep the deeper you’ll go. Jack and I sweep at about three feet per second, which we think just about gives maximum depth.
Though Garrett’s accessory concentric coils offer a little more depth inland, they lose that depth advantage - as do all ‘concentrics’- in and around sea water-soaked sand because their coil-winding configuration is less able to cope with mineralised ground.
Target ID’s to watch out for on the beach: 53/54 pull-tabs....
And ALWAYS dig all targets above ‘77’. But ‘solid’ 44’s can often be platinum, it being a poor conductor way down amongst the foil and ferrous.
Recently I overheard a group of surgeons chatting over a few beers in a local pub about who were the best patients to operate on....
The first surgeon said, ‘I like to see Accountants on my operating table because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered.’
The second responded, 'Yeah, but you should try Electricians! Everything inside them is colour-coded.'
The third surgeon replied, 'No, I really think Librarians are the best; everything inside them is in alphabetical order.'
The fourth chimed in, 'You know, I like Construction Workers. These guys always understand when you have a few parts left over at the end, and when the job takes longer than you said it would.'
But the fifth surgeon shut them all up with his observation, 'You're all wrong. Archaeologists are the easiest to operate on. They’ve no guts, no heart, no balls, no brains, and no spine, and there are only two moving parts - the mouth and the asshole - and they are interchangeable'
I took my wife to a disco at the weekend. There was a guy on the dance floor giving it everything he had; breakdancing, moonwalking, back flips, the works.
My wife turned to me and said, "See that guy? 25 years ago he proposed to me and I turned him down."
"Looks like he's still celebrating," I said.
My wounds are healing....
From our science correspondent: E M C Squared
The popping of Champagne corks by scientists at Europe's CERN Hadron Collider following their discovery of the Higgs-Boson sub-atomic particle, dubbed the ‘God Particle’, may well be premature. It has been reported that an even smaller sub-atomic particle, discovered several years ago, was in fact the brain of an émigré archaeologist.
Subsequent DNA tests revealed the ‘brain’, the so-called Barfart Particle, or as it’s more commonly known, the ‘Thinks-He’s-God Particle,’ probably originated in England, Professor Isaac Hunt told a sparsely attended press conference, adding that the so-called ‘Barfart Particle’ is of no scientific or collectable value whatsoever, and was consequently withdrawn from sale on an internet auction site.
‘Heritage Fiction’ Writer Nominated for Award.
From our literary correspondent: Richard Head....
Home Counties pensioner Nigella de Swift, 85, a little known writer with a sequential weakness for inaccuracy has unsurprisingly to many, been shortlisted for the Booker Fiction Prize with her ‘factual’ and side-splitting accounts of life among Britain’s treasure hunting community. Speaking from Heritage Fiction’s publishing headquarters – a garden shed-cum-office, she said, “We are all absolutely thrilled. At last we are being taken seriously.” Her previous documentary effort on the life and times of the medieval jester and serial crucifixion victim, Pavel de Barfart, was pulped after the first run.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme announces £150K research project to study its database.
“The Leverhulme Trust has given the British Museum a 3-year Research Project Grant of £149,805 for the project, 'The Portable Antiquities Scheme database as a tool for archaeological research' which starts today. Katherine Robbins, currently completing a Collaborative PhD at the University of Southampton in which she is analysing the data gathered by PAS in three pilot areas (Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Northamptonshire) will be employed as Research Assistant, with Roger Bland, Keeper, Department of Portable Antiquities and Treasure.”
Interesting indeed, for while that educational charity, the Council for British Archaeology (not known for its amity towards metal detecting/treasure hunting), continually pleads fiscal poverty despite freebies from the National Heritage Lottery Fund, what Heritage cash that is available, is arguably, being put to better and more important use in research into the 750,00 items secured by our pastime.
The Press Release continues, “This project will enable the rapidly growing PAS database to be exploited to the full in future research on the archaeology of the UK. The PAS database also provides an unparalleled scale of data that can be used in the study of sample bias in archaeology.”
There must have been a wailing and gnashing of teeth in York, Warsaw, and in Heritage Fiction’s garden shed-cum-office when this fantastic news broke. Oh dear, pass me an onion; I want to shed a tear.
It’s not archaeology as we know it, Jim!
At dawn the telephone rings……
"Hello, Senor Rod? This is Ernesto, the caretaker at your country house."
"Ah yes, Ernesto. What can I do for you? Is there a problem?"
"Um…I am just calling to advise you, Senor Rod, that your parrot, he is dead".
"My parrot? Dead? The one that won the International Honours?"
"Si, Senor, that's the one."
"Damn! That's a pity! I spent a small fortune on that bird. What did he die from?"
” From eating rotten meat, Senor Rod."
"Rotten meat? Who the hell fed him rotten meat?"
"Nobody, Senor. He ate the meat of the dead horse."
"Dead horse? What dead horse?"
"The thoroughbred stallion, Senor Rod."
"My prize thoroughbred stallion is dead?"
” Yes, Senor Rod, he died from all that work pulling the water cart."
"Are you insane? What water cart?"
"The one we used to put out the fire, Senor."
” Good Lord! What fire are you talking about, man?"
"The one at your house, Senor! A candle fell and the curtains caught on fire."
"What the hell? Are you saying that my mansion is destroyed because of a candle?!"
"Yes, Senor Rod."
"But there's electricity at the house! What was the candle for?"
"For the funeral, Senor Rod."
"WHAT BLOODY FUNERAL??!!"
"Your wife's, Senor Rod".
“She showed up very late one night and I thought she was a burglar, so I hit her with your new MXT GoldPRO with the 12”x18”coil, graphite shaft, with in-built GPS."
VERY LONG SILENCE…..
"Ernesto, if you’ve broken that metal detector, you're in deep shit."
In the overall scheme of things the two 1797 ‘Cartwheel’ pennies considering their almost illegible condition are no great shakes financially, but seeing they were found on a rural footpath while out test-piloting a Garrett AT Gold, they are important pointers not only to dating the footpath’s use, but as indicators to other coins likely to see the light of day on my trowel, as my second outing proved.
The 1861 ‘States of Jersey 1/26 of a shilling’ (in Jersey thirteen pennies made a shilling) reveals this near derelict footpath, was also in use in early Victorian times. However, the 1695 William III halfpenny, proves the footpath was in use nearly a century before the two ‘cartwheels’ were lost. Therefore, if coins from 1695 are in evidence, then hammered silvers are bound sure to appear in upcoming searches. Modest coins often hold greater things in promise. The 1861 Napoleon III Five Centimes bronze coin, whilst of little numismatic significance, certainly added a touch of novelty to the outing (Bordeaux Mint).
Despite archaeology’s lunatic fringe with its dog-in-the-manger ravings, metal detecting remains the only way certain areas such as fair-sites, footpaths, trading areas, even battle or skirmish sites can be found and dated with any accuracy through the finding of contemporaneous casual losses. That which aggravates archaeology intensely, is that metal detecting throws up experts in local history who are often consulted by the media, along with their finds, the same experts who can hold their own in debate and defend robustly the separate identity of metal detecting and more importantly, their findings.
For the teccies, the ATGold was set up in ALL METAL with ‘40’ Iron Discrim; one section down from ‘maximum’ sensitivity; the ground balance ‘window’ set at ‘2’; and the 5" x 8" coil swapped for the 8.5" x 11" coil of the ATPro.
Going ‘off piste’ for the moment, I don’t get Garrett’s UK marketing strategy of the ATGold with its free offers of gold panning kits. The last thing any UK hobbyist needs - I would have thought - is a gold panning kit, since gold nuggets in the UK are rarer than rocking-horse shit. It’s a bit like trying to sell metal detectors Stateside on the premise they are ‘just great’ on medieval ‘hammereds’, coin-types US hobbyists have more chance of finding than being struck by lightning.
Primarily a nugget hunting machine, its 18 kHz operating frequency being super sensitive to small gold nuggets makes it arguably the foremost gold prospecting machine currently available, especially with its ‘standard’ 5" x 8" DD coil. However, by strange co-incidence, it’s this ability to home in on gold nuggets that makes the ATGold’s operation so effective in the UK where it can pluck-out the tiniest of Celtic coins and makes short work of clipped, or cut, medieval hammereds.
Were it up to me, I’d market this outstanding detector in the UK with a deal to include the incomparable Pro-Pointer, or, an option on either a larger 8.5" x 11,” or a 4”x5” Super Sniper coil, at knock-down price.
The so-called Warsaw Shroud, a threadbare relic, has come to light at a Warsaw garage sale, where it seems, a treasure hunter was paid five zloty’s by the vendor to take it away. This frayed secular relic, according to some historians, is the funerary cloth the medieval windbag and jester, Pavel de Barfart.
The Shroud, it is further claimed, shows de Barfart’s face; an apparently tortured soul with a wretched expression, stubbly beard, and sporting what appears to be a pair of ancient spectacles. Can this really be the face of a crucified man some historians ask? Well, actually, yes it is, and he was frequently nailed by cannier treasure hunters exposing his fraudulent claim. Bill from Lachine, a Canadian province, was a precise tormentor and crucifier.
Though little is known of de Barfart’s early days, it can be said with some certainty that during his adult life he was a creature of darkness, rarely showing his face in daylight giving rise to speculation of his ability to converse with cockroaches. De Barfart scribbled widely; his texts though illuminating, held the key to his troubled mind. With his scribblings becoming increasingly preposterous (and a great source of amusement), his ego-centric Testaments became ever more muddled and bizarre evidenced by his now famous gibbering that history’s most famous discovery, the Crosby Garrett Helmet, should be put up for sale to private collectors, so as to serve as a warning to the Anglo-Saxon peoples of how those in charge of their relics were squandering their heritage.
In later Epistles he contradicted his earlier Crosby Helmet tirade by declaring he was now “all for” negotiations to implement punitive controls on the searching for, and the selling of relics, of such severity, they would not be a “pale shadow” of the controls enjoyed by the Anglo-Saxons. He was by now, as one Cambridge historian wittily said of him at a cocktail party in York, and to the amusement of those present, that he was, “a coin short of a hoard.” Thus, Pavel de Barfart waged his topsy-turvy, sanctimonious, Crusade; saying one thing one day and the opposite the next. But as with many of history’s zealots he fell victim to his own befuddled and twisted philosophy (from which he never fully recovered) finally coming to believe the world was actually out of sync with him. He was last heard of in 1450 wandering aimlessly across Eastern Europe with the medieval fiction writer, and archaeological groupie, Nigella de Swift, in tow.
Unfortunately, the Shroud’s discovery failed to re-awaken any real interest in this unintelligible eccentric.
A treasure hunter walked into a Brighton antique shop. After looking around for a while, he noticed a very life-like bronze statue of a rat. It had no price tag, but it was so striking that he decided to buy it anyway.
He took it to the shop owner and said: "How much is this bronze rat?"
The owner replied: "It's £12 for the rat, and £100 for the story."
The treasure hunter gave the shop owner his £12 and said "I'll just take the rat you can keep the story." As he walked off down the street, he noticed that a few real rats had crawled out of the sewers and begun following him.
This was a little disconcerting, so he started to walk a little faster, but within a couple of blocks the swarm of rats had grown to hundreds, and they were all squealing and screeching in a very menacing way. He increased his speed and ran on towards the beach, and as he ran, he looked behind him and saw the rats now numbered in their MILLIONS, and they were running faster and faster. By now very concerned, he ran down to the pier and threw the bronze Rat far out into the sea. Amazingly, the millions of real rats jumped into the water after it and were all drowned.
The man walked back to relate all this to the shop owner, who said:
"Ah, you've come back for the story then?"
"No," said the treasure hunter, "I came back to see if you've got a bronze archaeologist".
Last time I mentioned that Jack Dey had found a fine, 3.8 gram, 14-carat, triple gold ring, white, rose and yellow, with his newly acquired ATPro International. Here’s the photo.....
Let’s take a hypothetical scenario. Are you sitting comfortably? We’ll begin. Once upon a time in the Land of Arkie, an organisation styled itself as a ‘metal detecting club’ one of whose rules dictated what its members must wear while out treasure hunting? [Inappropriate use of ‘treasure’ here. Ed]
Would you have joined such a club? No? Me neither. For the purposes herein, we’ll call this fairy tale club the George Orwell Detecting Society (GODS).
Perhaps you might have been more inclined to join GODS had it been explained why the wearing of ‘combats’ (treasure hunting’s time-honoured apparel) was outlawed by the club’s non-elected Elders? The reason, it transpired, was that the Elders took on the erroneous belief that the wearing of traditional ‘cammo’ treasure hunting garb would bring GODS into disrepute since members might be confused with nighthawks, or worse still, SAS troopers on night-time manoeuvres.
But considering GODS (a Home Counties ménage), sucked up to (or was that, off?) local archaeologists, it’s hardly surprising it took the line it did, drawing detecting’s ‘holier-than-thou’ apostles as flies to a turd.
Bringing a colourwash to the background, a further GODS’ Elders diktat saw the mandatory adoption of traditional archaeological costume it being the only acceptable in-field apparel : That of colourful, but baggy, chunky-knit sweaters with patched elbows, filthy corduroys, wispy beards, matted hair, and dreadlocks, all topped off with a Tyrolean trilby with pheasant tail-feathers in the hat bands. Being terribly PC, with gender equality paramount, the wearing of traditional archaeological costume also applied to the men.
Those eager applicants having passed the positive vetting process, and having established their non-nocturnal credentials, went on a crash course in arkie-speak affected in the now legendary cod West Country accent …”Ooooh, aaah, this be a copper cer’monial coin, ‘o vaaaast importance this be…ooh, aaah,..’n it be the first evidence of a vaaaast, unknown, cer’monial, roman city,” [Too many ‘vaaasts’. Ed.] followed up with a few hours tuition on writing begging letters to Gobby Robbo, including the correct terms of salutation when in the presence of the ‘Great Ones’…Your Eminence/Oh Masterful One/Your Excellency…I Am Unworthy.
In eradicating any connection with metal detecting/treasure hunting, GODS Elders renamed some metal detecting machines so as to make them more acceptable to academia. Appropriate stickers were applied to offending machines. The Garrett ATGold became the ‘Ralph Pinder-Wilson’ and the Whites XLT became the ‘Howard Carter,’ while all Bounty Hunters were immediately outlawed and their owners horsewhipped out of town. Obsolete BFO’s along with other time worn machines lacking depth, were known as ‘Barfords,’ or, ‘Swifts’.
Write-ups in the GODS newsletter followed the time-honoured format….”After three hours, I paint-brushed my way down to 18” following a signal from my trusty, ‘Howard Carter’, and imagine my surprise when I found in context with a ring-pull, a bronze roman coin, the first clue to the previously unknown whereabouts of the vaaaast roman city of Delerium…..” yawn, yawn, [I warned you about them ‘vaaasts’. Ed.]
Of course, GODS was not a ‘club’ in the customary sense, but was experimenting with organisational dynamics; having abolished those tiresome annual tasks of publishing accounts, and the election of club officers. The pioneering hand-in-blouse relationship with the local archaeological community expanded, doubtless at a suitable fiscal rate.
Of course, all the forgoing is pure hypothesis. Such things could never happen in real life.
Following a long recent conversation with Leisure Promotions’, Mick Turrell, about the meaning of the term, ‘treasure’, I emailed the Department for Culture, the Olympics, Media and Sport (DCOMS) for a definitive answer, they allegedly, being the fount of all heritage knowledge. I put this simple hypothesis to them:
“Would two bronze palstaves (possibly Iron Age) found together by someone with metal detector, fall within the definition of 'Treasure' within the meaning of the current Treasure Act? Are you able to give me, 'chapter and verse'? My reading of the Act, suggests otherwise.”
Dear Mr Howland
Thank you for your e-mail …. As you may know, whether something is treasure or not is formally a matter for the Coroner to determine. DCOMS is not able to give a definitive answer in individual cases. You should contact your local Finds Liaison Officer (FLO), who will be able to give you advice on the definition of treasure and the treasure process. A list of FLOs and their contact details is included in the Treasure Code of Practice, which can be found here: www.finds.org.uk/documents/treasure_act.pdf
Department for Culture, the Olympics, Media and Sport
Wading through ‘The Treasure Act 1996, Code of Practice (2nd Revision) ENGLAND & WALES’, I finally discover that; In the case of metallic objects, other than coins, of prehistoric date containing less than 10 per cent of precious metal by weight of metal (they may be entirely composed of base metal, for example) there must be at least two such metallic objects from the ‘same find’: (see paragraphs 11, 14 and 16).
Therefore, the two hypothetical palstaves are indeed ‘treasure’.
Curiously, when presented with this carefully spun hypothesis, the Department for Culture, the Olympics, Media and Sport (DCOMS), immediately devolved all responsibility for supplying a definitive answer on some probably hard-pressed rookie FLO by saying, “DCOMS is not able to give a definitive answer in individual cases.” Cynics along with the less charitable might say the DCOMS’ reply bears all the governmental hallmarks of ‘don’t know, don’t care, don’t bother me, piss off,’ leaving an enquirer to trust in the advice of an untrained FLO (in legal matters, that is) whose only previous experience in asking searching questions, has been “Would you like fries with that?”
If you’ve never viewed any of Chicago Ron’s videos, you are missing out on a real treat. He is something else. When I’m dogged off and weary at my lack of finds, and need a lift, I always take a ‘shot of Ron’. His latest video on electrolysis is quite superb. Watch and enjoy a true treasure hunter at work. Keep ‘em coming maestro!
A little over three weeks ago my detecting pal Jack Dey took charge of a brand spanking new Garrett ATpro International. Being a pal, I helped him to set it up, and how does the old bugger reward me? He hits a ‘56’ – a fine 3.8 gram, 14-carat ring. I’m so happy for you Jack, and yeh, yer on yer ‘kin own from now on!!!
Sour grapes aside, it proves yet again, there ain’t a shortcut to the good stuff. You’ve simply gotta be prepared to dig the dross since 14-carat gold often registers ‘56’ on the Digital readout, it being oh-so-close to the dreaded ‘pull-tab notch zone’ that you simply can’t afford to Discrim it out.
Though great to use in the dry sand areas of the beach, don’t take it anywhere near seawater soaked sand – it goes berserk becoming completely useless. That’s not a criticism, just verifying what the ATGold’s operator manual asserts.
Being primarily a nugget hunting machine, “The AT Gold operates at a high frequency optimized for gold,” the operator manual informs us. Whereas tiny hammered coins and gold staters exist in the same abundance in the US as gold nuggets do in the UK, the ATGold’s enjoying an ever-growing army of discerning UK fans who’ve latched on to the fact that its 18 kHz nugget-finding frequency excels at homing-in on tiny hammered coins, and tiny gold Iron Age staters. Add this to the fact that the ATGold is waterproof and weatherproof, its burgeoning popularity is easy to fathom.
On a recent outing, I swapped its standard 5" x 8” DD PROformance coil with the 8.5" x 11" DD standard coil as fitted to my ATPro International, set to All Metal; Iron Discrim to ‘35’ and Iron Audio to ‘ON’, correctly ground balanced, and sallied forth for an hour or so on a friend’s farmland criss-crossed with ancient footpaths. Best finds of the session were a couple of George III copper ‘Cartwheel’ Half-pennies, 1797, in less than good condition, and a rather nice copper ‘Young Head’ Queen Victoria, States of Jersey 1861, “One 24th of a shilling” halfpenny. All, save one of the George III’s, were deeeeep! My stainless steel edging spade soon had them out at around 10 inches down. All came in with sharp, clear signals.
On roman habitation sites, or where Iron Age coinage is likely, I’d certainly take full advantage of the 18 kHz frequency coupled to the 5”x8” DD coil’s prowess at winkling out the small high value stuff.
Hmm, might have to give this inland hunting another go!
The spirit of the Gestapo is thriving in parts of southern England if the stories are true. Though apocryphal, the experiences of some hobbyists suggests that a handful of Finds Liaison Officers (FLO’s) have taken to goose-stepping all over Der Reich indulging in “Ve haf vays ov making you tok’-style arm-twisting, to extract finds details and locations from hobbyists, or ‘unter-menschen,’ as it appears they now are regarded by the boys in jackboots.
All this of course, irrespective of landowners’ wishes and rights. Shocking? Of course, but though this kind of jackbootery impresses the gullible, the weak, and the ill-informed, to the more hard-nosed amongst us, they get two words…and the second one is, “…Off”.
Sartorially, all these latter-day storm-troopers require is the badge of the Gauleiter (above), and like the tyrants who sported them in the 1940’s, they too, metaphorically, will get their Nuremberg come-uppance.
Not only is this all very disturbing and distasteful, it also reflects poorly on the more ethical FLO’s who play a straight bat. But the seeds of mistrust have been sown. Many people, both inside and outside the pastime are already taking a hard sideways look at their local FLO’s. Are they all working to a secret agenda they ask; are they trying to sabotage the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS)? The truth is that some denizens of the archaeological community would like nothing better than to see the PAS go tits up. With any luck, the damage may not be permanent.
So, what do you do when faced with one of these apprentice Heydrichs?
Well, for openers, finds falling outside the scope of the Treasure Act are none of their business – end of! So, Up Theirs! Should you receive a phone call laced with threats that you’ve breached the Treasure Act, record the call, or, have someone take verbatim notes on an extension; then tell the caller to Foxtrot Oscar. Better still, prepare and submit an official complaint with copies of the call to your MP. Remember; FLO’s are your servants; you are not theirs! All we need now is to catch one of these swines in flagrante then plaster it all over the press and send a copy to me.!!!!!
Treasure, is legally defined, and I quote from the Treasure Act 1996 :-
1 Meaning of “treasure”.
(1)Treasure is— .
(a)any object at least 300 years old when found which— .
(i)is not a coin but has metallic content of which at least 10 per cent by weight is precious metal;
(ii)when found, is one of at least two coins in the same find which are at least 300 years old at that time and have that percentage of precious metal; or .
(iii)when found, is one of at least ten coins in the same find which are at least 300 years old at that time; .
(b)any object at least 200 years old when found which belongs to a class designated under section 2(1); .
(c)any object which would have been treasure trove if found before the commencement of section 4; .
(d)any object which, when found, is part of the same find as— .
(i)an object within paragraph (a), (b) or (c) found at the same time or earlier; or .
(ii)an object found earlier which would be within paragraph (a) or (b) if it had been found at the same time. .
(2)Treasure does not include objects which are— .
(a)unworked natural objects, or .
(b)minerals as extracted from a natural deposit, .
or which belong to a class designated under section 2(2).
Thus, if you as a finder are so minded to report a non-treasure find to an FLO, and have the permission of the landowner to do so, then that reportage is entirely a charitable act under the voluntary, and very successful, Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). Equally, you might prefer to report a non-treasure find the UK’s Detector Finds Database instead. You might even choose to do neither, preferring to keep your own counsel. The choice is yours.
FLO’s access to details of detectorists’ finds, or anyone else’s for that matter, is NOT a right but a privilege, and is entirely dependent on the goodwill of finders and/or landowners, and the soonerdetectorists realise they hold all the ace cards in this matter, then so much the better. In all cases of treasure, be guided by a solicitor from the outset.
We hobbyists, treasure hunters, and FLO’s for that matter, are dealing with other peoples’ property (landowners and farmers) in the shape of finds made on land they own, and if it is their express wish that as a condition of permission to search with your metal detector, that all finds out of scope of the Treasure Act are not reported to FLO’s, should not to be reported to an FLO, then so it must be.
Thus, landowners’ wishes as to finds disposal have to be treated with utmost respect.
The sooner one or two FLO’s in certain southern counties, and at this stage the laws of libel prohibit me from naming them, get it through it their thick skulls that access to our finds is a privilege and not a right, then so much the better, and while they’re contemplating the error of their ways, they ought to start learning some basic manners and interpersonal skills and begin treating our pastime and its followers with the respect it and they deserve.
Neither is it a legal requirement that these heritage Gaulieter FLO be present at a detecting rally, nor, is it illegal for rally organisers or anyone else to ‘seed’ fields with genuine, low-value, non-treasure roman coins either as single ‘plants’ or as ‘pretend’ hoards.
In the meantime, if you’re happy with your local FLO arrangement, then let it be business as usual, but just beware of what you have promised your farmer or landowner in gaining permission to search. Be aware too, of the Breach of Contract spectre if and when things go awry.
Perhaps, but by whom? In a world where one man’s archaeologist is another’s treasure hunter, hubris thrives in semi-tropical climes. In the Fort Lauderdale mud-slinging debacle, chucker-in-chief, Florida archaeologist, Bob Carr, had this to say about us in a local newspaper:-
“They are not just stealing public property, but destroying the fabric of information from a signature site of the city,” said archaeologist Bob Carr, who led the team that explored part of the site last year. “I think the city needs to step up to the plate.”
“It is not a mystery that there is a fort site there,” Carr said. “A sign would just remind people that these cultural resources are public property, and taking them could be a felony.”
Carr, who runs the private Archaeological and Historical Conservancy Inc. of Davie, and county archaeologist Matthew DeFelice suggest the site may be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. That could make the use of metal detectors illegal.”
Interestingly, whilst most Florida hobbyists are simply that, non-profiteering hobbyists, Good ‘Ole Boy, Bob Carr, who runs the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy Inc. whose website says that, “The Archaeological and Historical Conservancy, Inc. (AHC) is a Florida not-for-profit organization dedicated to the investigation and preservation of archaeological and historical sites across Florida and the Bahamas.”
Adding, “The Archaeological and Historical Conservancy conducts archaeological and historical assessments, surveys, investigations, excavations, and monitoring. These services are provided for public agencies, developers, businesses, and museums. The Conservancy also provides site management plans, tours of sites, and exhibit design and development.”
It could be argued that whilst Carr makes a handsome living from the heritage (presumably), or, as he so coyly puts it, “cultural resources” and “public property,” he apparently doesn’t want anyone else to have his unconstrained access to what seems a Mother Lode. Apart from what might be argued as a case of double standards on Carr’s part, he’s done nothing really outrageous.
But the question has to asked: Does this mean Carr’s trying to persuade Fort Lauderdale’s City Hall to protect his Archaeological and Historical Conservancy Inc. at the expense of amateurs, by giving his not-for-profit outfit unbridled access to the same “cultural resources” and “public property” he’s so anxious to deny others. We may never know the answer, unless someone in the Florida detecting community has the nuts to put the question?
I recently wangled a Garrett ATGold to fool around with - Oh, it’s mind-blowing. Swapped its coil with that of the ATPro and ripped through the trash areas of a local beach. Meanwhile, The ATGold fitted with the ATPro’s larger searchcoil is, inland…. awesome! More soon.....