The "success" of the Portable Antiquities Scheme can only be properly assessed when seen against how many artefacts are being removed from the archaeological record in England and Wales which are not being recorded. The PAS despite thirteen years of expensive liaison has not determined what that figure actually is. Conservation group Heritage Action attempts to indicate the significance of this gap in knowledge with the "Heritage Action Artefact Erosion Counter". This is a simple algorithm (based - for want of official figures from the PAS - on examination of what "metal detectorists" have revealed about how often they go out and what they find) which provides a conservative estimate how many finds seem likely to be being extracted from the ground a year by the minimum estimate of 10 000 active "metal detectorists" in the UK. It is estimated that statistically each finds something like 30,47 recordable finds a year (some more, some less of course). The figures produced by the counter ticking over day after day, week after week, month after month are quite shocking.
This year: 220,155
Since the start of the Portable Antiquities Scheme:4,301,690
Overall Total since 1975: 11,173,483
*(so basically as many finds as have been reported to the PAS from the whole of Wales so far this year)
If there are 500 active "metal detectorists' in Wales (see below), they should be producing over 15000 finds a year, that's 150 000 finds should have been added to the PAS database due to the activities of Welsh detectorists alone. Have they? Check for yourselves.
Vignette: emotions aroused by the Heritage Action Erosion Counter