Friday, October 7, 2011

Rewriting History

The Portable Antiquities Scheme represents "metal detecting" as people going out and "finding their own history". The historical disciplines however involve a little bit more than just going out and "finding something", there is a whole methodology (or series of methodologies) to be followed in the gathering of evidence, its criticism/ assessment and use to interpret the past in a scholarly manner. If they are not followed the results can verge on comical pseudohistory. A good example is the work of "metal detectorist" Alan Hassall in Wales who claims to have discovered the Ark of the Covenant in Wales, and much else besides and feels rejected because the academic community will not give his pronouncements any credence. Like many "metal detectorists", Hassall has a deep mistrust of the "Establishment" and its motives. Here he is talking about it:
The English Establishment have done what no other country on this planet we call Earth [have done] and have changed and reinvented The original British Histories as if for centuries nothing happened. All clocks stopped, nobody lived, nobody died, nothing happened. Then all of a sudden at a precise moment in time everything started again as if nothing had happened and everything was back to normal.For Centuries The Establishment has been able to keep everyone in the dark and treat them like mushrooms and feed them on political horse manure. With the Discovery of the Great White Palace of the British Kings we finally have something tangible to reveal to the World that Once upon a time there was a Camelot.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme is an institution representing the English Establishment, why impose its rigours on the creative freedoms of the imaginations of the seekers of a Lost Past? Metal detectorists like these who think they "know better than the experts" are not going to listen to a Scheme which is created to engender "best practice" in their activities. Why waste public money on a Scheme these "finders" do not appreciate looking over their shoulder?

Vignette: Romantic pseudohistory

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