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Author Topic: Time Team and associated articles.  (Read 4363 times)
Tafflaff (Rob)
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« on: March 21, 2009, 11:05:43 AM »

Just thought it may be beneficial to gather what we can and post it here. Waltonbasinman , it may be a good idea to put your experiences here as well.
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Tafflaff (Rob)
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« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2009, 11:08:40 AM »

Time Team Site

The metal detecting controversy

Metal detecting is one of the most controversial issues in archaeology today, and no archaeologist watching the Ainsbrook programme could feel anything but concern about the systematic stripping of the site of metal artefacts over many years. In total, as many as seven or eight thousand objects had been removed before Mark Ainsley and Geoffrey Bambrook, the discoverers of the 'Ainsbrook hoard', finally decided to reveal the location of their finds to a team led by Richard Hall of the York Archaeological Trust.

At least Mark and Geoff, who see themselves as 'bad detectorists turned good', kept relatively detailed records of their finds and where they made them over the years. So even though many of the finds had been sold and dispersed by the time archaeologists were called in, they could still reconstruct the pattern of distribution of the discoveries.

Some 'treasure hunters' keep no records at all; they are interested only in the objects themselves, and sometimes only for their monetary value. And of course few metal detectorists excavate finds with the painstaking attention to context and detail that characterises an archaeological dig. Many non-metal objects are discarded or missed altogether, and features in the ground of interest or importance to archaeologists may not be recognised or are ignored. It is not surprising, then, that archaeologists have tended to look askance at the metal detecting community and in turn even responsible metal detectorists have often responded with suspicion or hostility towards people who they see as threatening their hobby.

Portable Antiquities Scheme
It was in an attempt to get detectorists and others to report their finds that the Portable Antiquities Scheme was established in 1997, initially as a pilot scheme and later nationally. More than 300,000 objects had been recorded by the scheme by the beginning of 2008, including many of national or international importance. Regional finds liaison officers cover the whole of England and Wales, offering advice on conservation and identification services as well as opportunities to record artefacts.

Together with other initiatives, the scheme has done a great deal to raise awareness of archaeology and the importance of cultural artefacts, and to bring together archaeologists and detectorists.

Metal detecting and Time Team
Time Team has always recognised the value of metal detecting as part of archaeological investigation. It first used metal detectorists to great effect at the 1997 Live, when detectorist Tim Hand found a wonderful Roman brooch and many Roman coins among the spoil; and they have featured, both on screen and behind the scenes, at many other digs since. Indeed, a number of Time Team programmes, such as the 2001 Live, which excavated an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in the New Forest, would not have taken place without detectorists having discovered the sites in the first place.

The Team now uses detectorists as a matter of course to check the excavation spoil on all its digs, and its members have supported various initiatives involving archaeologists and responsible metal detectorists throughout the country. Yet they remain concerned about the impact that the activity of the estimated 50,000 metal detectorists in Britain not all of whom can be relied on to behave responsibly and to record and report their finds is having on our archaeological heritage.

Mick Aston, for example, has long been outspoken on this issue. He feels passionately that we have to respect our past, and has little time for those who take the cavalier approach of hunting for 'treasure' and digging up artefacts that lose most of their potential meaning when removed from the context in which they are found.

'You often get people who own metal detectors purely to find treasure,' he says. 'The problem is they find things and dig them up without any recording. We end up with a lot of objects completely out of context and then it's the archaeologist who has to come in and sort out the mess.'

'Metal detectors should be licensed' Tony Robinson
'Metal detecting worries me greatly,' says Tony Robinson. 'To be honest, I think we're pissing about. The reality, according to Phil, is that there are likely to be no metal finds at all in the first foot of Britain's soil within 20 years. The only way we can prevent that happening is by legislation. I think all metal detectors should be licensed and to get a licence they should be required to abide by a code of archaeological best practice.'

'Everything we find, wherever it is, should be scrupulously and systematically recorded within its archaeological context,' Tony insists. He says that the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which involves the voluntary recording of archaeological finds, is 'great, and I support the people who do it, but in a way it's a policy of despair because it's saying yes, all these people are going to plunder our archaeology but what we'll do is try to persuade the nice ones to tell us where they found it.'

Tony doesn't think legislation on metal detecting is too much to ask. It's about developing a critical mass of support to change hearts and minds on the issue. We don't allow people to collect birds' eggs any more, for example, he says. 'Yet this is worse than egg collecting. There will still be kestrels producing eggs until we get down to the last half dozen kestrels but once you lose archaeological remains they are gone forever.'

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Tafflaff (Rob)
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« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2009, 11:16:56 AM »

 
UK news  Archaeologists and amateurs agree pact Maev Kennedy


The Guardian, Tuesday 2 May 2006
Article history


The acquisition by the British Museum of a thumbnail-sized chunk of battered inscribed gold - a very rare runic inscription, probably hacked up by Vikings centuries after it was made - marks a historic truce between archaeologists and metal detectors after decades of skirmishing.
While amateur users of metal detectors have made some of the most spectacular archaeological finds of recent years, many archaeologists have regarded them as little better than hobby looters.

Now, after months of negotiation, the two sides are set to announce a code of conduct. The code, which will be launched at the British Museum today, has been agreed by all the main metal detector clubs, landowners, archaeologists, museums, archaeological societies and English Heritage. "This is the end of the war between the archaeologists and the detectorists," said Roger Bland, an archaeologist seconded by the British Museum to head the Portable Antiquities scheme, which encourages voluntary reporting of finds. "There is a long history of antagonism and suspicion, but once all parties have signed up to this we believe this is a real way forward."

The code commits metal detector users - there are an estimated 180,000 in Britain - to working only in the top layer of disturbed ground such as ploughed fields, with the landowner's permission, reporting all finds, and stopping immediately and calling in expert help if anything significant turns up.

The code of conduct will not satisfy some archaeologists, who would like to see metal detectors licensed or better still banned.

Geoff Wainwright, former chief archaeologist at English Heritage, said: "Whichever way you code it, what people are actually doing is removing objects from their archaeological context, losing the priceless information which would be gained from proper excavation."

The little piece of gold which the British Museum is acquiring was found near Colchester in Essex by Corinne Mills, an amateur who has set up her own website campaign for responsible detecting.

Detector successes

The Coenwulf Coin Gold 8th century coin found in 2001 by metal detector in riverside common at Biggleswade, Bedfordshire

Ringlemere Cup Bronze Age gold cup found in a field near Ramsgate, Kent, in 2001

The Winchester Hoard Almost a kilo of Iron Age pure gold jewellery found scattered across a field near Winchester by Kevin Halls in 2000
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Charles Cater
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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2009, 11:34:34 AM »

A couple of years or more ago a dig was organised by the archaelogists, partly financed with money from Ralph Feinnes, the actor. This was  about 5 miles from Wrexham on the  Cheshire border. It appeared that the dig was organised by Ralph's half brother Mike who is an archaeologist.
 OK so far.

 My then club applied to help and was accepted. We were NOT allowed to go actually on site and mark areas off where we heard a signal but we were allowed to do the spoil heaps. Plenty of nails an one 'hammered' coin came up from the spoil heaps which. as you may guess was conficated I think.

I personally gave up when asked to go somewhere else and dig which was adjacent to the site. I found nothing. The cameras were there but no pics were taken of any detectorists

It was discovered that the 13th century lead seal I found was part of the family that once owned the land in the past, that was when it was part of Wales.

Below is the picture of it taken years ago, I gave it to Dr. David Williams who wrote a book on Welsh seals with the idea of him giving it to the National Museum.

The owner of the land asked for it back but the museum said they could not find it so I reckoned that either it was kept or lost by the person I gave it to.

I had found a lot of historical items, which, unfortunately I gave away for safe keeping, including all my 'hammered' coins and a George III spage Half Guinea, but I regard that as hard luck for doing such a thing.

I never volunteered for anything again regarding digs
The seal was of Madoc ap Madoc 1270 - 1330 apparently


« Last Edit: March 21, 2009, 11:40:36 AM by Charles Cater » Logged

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Jonola (Jon)
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2009, 05:58:33 PM »

Found this on a Time Team site. This is their defence for using mechanical diggers. Defending the indefensible in my humble opinion.


Digging with Time Team.
Time Team has a regular crew of qualified archaeologists who dig the sites for each programme. The Team is also backed up at each site by local archaeologists. In addition to bringing invaluable local knowledge to the excavations, they can also usually be seen getting their hands dirty as they wield their trowels in some of the trenches.

Of course not everything on an archaeological dig is excavated by hand; and viewers often wonder how Time Team can bring a huge mechanical digger onto a site to remove the upper layers without damaging the fragile archaeology underneath. It's important to bear in mind that a careful assessment of the site will have been carried out before any machines (or indeed trowels) are used.

First, the geophysics surveys help to pinpoint where any archaeological remains might be. If the site looks particularly complicated a test pit may be dug to determine the underlying stratigraphy and find out how deep any remains are. Once the team has a good idea of what to expect, a mechanical digger may be brought in to remove the topsoil.

This is done using a flat bucket without any metal teeth. Usually, unless it is known for certain that any remains lie deep below the surface, this will be used to gently scrape back the surface a few centimetres at a time. Ian Powlesland, one of Time Team's regular diggers, has many years' experience using mechanical diggers on archaeological sites, but whoever uses the machine is closely observed by an archaeologist, who stops the digger the instant anything is uncovered. Once the archaeological layers are reached the mechanical digger is removed and the familiar hand digging process of mattocking, shovelling and trowelling begins.

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beachboy (viv)
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« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2009, 07:04:42 PM »

well jon,i have never seen them dig a test pit by hand only with a machine,their statement to me just keeps shooting them self in foot, if they know what is in the top centimetres why use a metal detector to check the spoils,they talking a load of rubbish as usual. viv
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Jonola (Jon)
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« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2009, 07:33:02 PM »

I agree Viv. Their first port of call is the JCB garage. Weapon of choice a flamin' great digger blade. I remember one show where they sliced the top straight off a pot. I'll have to keep a watch on the documentary channels till that show comes around again.
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