Having spent a lot of time recording metal-detected objects in the 20 years before the arrival of the PAS I have a particular set of biases in the ongoing relationship between professional archaeologists and metal detector users. Some of my best friends are detector users, though many more are archaeologists…..
I remain certain agriculture is doing far more damage to archaeological sites than metal detecting. There is plenty of evidence for the devastation caused by constant ploughing, especially in the large fields with heavy machinery that have characterised successful arable farming in lowland England for the last 60–100 years. Sites first discovered as ‘black patches’ showing in newly ploughed fields in the 1950’s show now at best as occasional deep features cut into the natural (or nothing at all in the case of many prehistoric settlements). Some good evidence for this destruction derives from metal detecting; if the grave goods typical of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery are found in the plough-soil then the depth of current damage is at least the original depth of the grave.
Jude Plouviez, Archaeological Officer, Suffolk County Council
The full article is available in Rescue News 109.