Saturday, October 8, 2011

Black and White (and Grey)

It is one of the maxims of the supporters of the Portable Antiquities Scheme in England that "metal detectorists" are decent blokes who are doing what they do, not because they are at all interested in financial gain or want to do damage, but because they are all "passionately interested in history". As such, the "vast majority" are "responsible" and it is a small minority of "black sheep" who "get the hobby a bad name". These so-called "nighthawks" who use metal detectors without the landowner's permission and on protected sites (often under the cover of darkness, hence the name) are - the story goes, despised by "real metal detectorists" who have nothing to do with them.

The official picture is therefore a purely black and white one. On the one hand are the "black" metal detector users operating outside the law, and on the other, the "whiter than white" ones who do not break the law and are therefore "responsible". The problem is that in many areas of life there is a huge difference between what is responsible and what is merely "not illegal". This is very much the case with artefact hunting. In three posts below this I propose looking at this proposed simplistically dichotomous black and white model promoted by PAS and "metal detectorists" and their supporters in more detail and show the shades of grey that hide between the two extremes.

Vignette: Dichotomy between white angel and black nighthawking devil.

No comments:

Post a Comment