In my younger days I used to read The Guardian newspaper, fondly known as The Grauniad, because of its propensity for making spelling mistakes. Another thing that attracted me was the clever headlines, usually of the punning or alliterative variety, which I tried to emulate in my own scribblings, and still do. They were usually wittier than those beloved by the tabloids. Now you know who to blame!
Then I grew up. An eminent person – I forget who – stated that ‘all the stroppy people read the Guardian.’ I didn’t see myself this way at all, but WAS becoming tired of reading about one-parent families, third world countries and homosexuality. So I stopped buying and moved to another so-called ‘quality’ newspaper. Don’t ask. Furthermore, being more of a fish and chip man, I wasn’t partial to antipasti, aubergine parmigiana, braised endive and, if truth were known, I didn’t really know what those dishes were anyway!
So, what’s this all about and why am I treating you to a potted life history? Apart from buying the occasional copy of the Sunday Times, most of which I don’t read and the rest I throw away, I now get most of my news online. You don’t end up with inky fingers that way and you don’t dirty the duvet!
The Guardian is currently asking readers for ‘candid’ stories of what work is really like, and asking doctors, cleaners, teachers, etcetera to write about the job they do. You don’t have to give your name. They want to know exactly what the role involves and are willing to pay £100 for ‘your troubles’.
A female archaeologist has answered the call and states that she never joined the profession as, “a result of a long-held romantic notion of making great discoveries and solving mysteries.” She never had those expectations and talks candidly about her job in an illuminating article entitled, ‘The Secret Life of an Archaeologist: Soil in your Sandwiches and Sexism on Sites.’ There is a section where she talks about metal detectorists:
… metal detectorists can be the stuff of nightmares when on a dig. Those acting as treasure hunters, operating without a licence, digging under the cover of night, are not likely to be keeping detailed records. Once an object is removed from a site, it loses its context and its informative value is decreased to almost nil, depending on the artefact. When someone walks onto site uninvited with a bag of artefacts your heart just sinks and you have to bite your tongue.
After reading that I begin to realise that all the work done by some archaeologists and detectorists to foster better relations is falling on stony ground. I wonder how enlightened archaeologists like Stephen Young (who told in a recent Searcher article how the work and cooperation of detectorists is so important) would feel when reading this nonsense. It saddens me to see that all his work, and others, is being undermined by such ill-judged comments. See The Searcher, April 2016, Dave Does it Again.
Surely, if detectorists are on an archeological dig, they have been invited for a reason. Rather than ‘the stuff of nightmares’, they are valued for what their expertise can provide and what their machine can discover. I can confidently say that a detectorist of many years experience is capable of bringing more to the party than a young and inexperienced archeologist fresh out of university.
Miss Anonymous mentions the ‘tool of the job’ like spades, shovels, wheelbarrows and mattocks. Pity she hasn’t yet discovered one of the most invaluable tools in her arsenal – the detectorist. The beauty is that there is no initial outlay, and the expert in charge of the machine is completely self-propelling. So less chance of suffering from those ongoing physical issues she talks about. Wise up! Start using strategies to help make your job easier.
Then she talks about ‘those acting as treasure hunters, operating without a licence’, showing very clearly that she has been indoctrinated at college or university and cannot tell the difference between thieves and responsible metal detectorists who have been in invited on a dig. It’s all very confusing.
This Blogpost is based on an article first published in The Searcher metal detecting magazine