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6. Acknowledging the Contribution of Hobbyist Metal Detecting to Battlefield Archaeology

We have already discussed the valuable contribution made by hobbyist metal detectorists as skilled volunteers within archaeological projects; however, another contribution they can make to battlefield archaeology is the discovery, and recording, of previously unknown sites of conflict. Through her research, and work at the Treasure Trove Unit, the author has come into contact with a number of individuals who have taken great pains to record and report their discoveries. In Scotland three notable examples include a potential skirmish site or training ground near Loch Leven, Perth and Kinross; a skirmish site near Doune Castle, Stirling; and an extensive assemblage of military material relating to activity associated with Fort George, Highland. The potential scope of reporting such material is reflected in research carried out by Stuart Campbell on the material culture of 18th–19th century military, including the social meaning articulated on military buttons (Campbell 2011).

In England the PAS database and the HER contain a number of intriguing cases related to material recovered by metal detecting activity that appear to mark the presence of previously unknown sites of conflict. As well as this we may include Pettet at Sedgemoor, who has successfully mapped Wade's rout; several skirmish sites and training grounds discovered by Peter Twinn; the discovery of skirmish activity related to the infamous Dutch invasion in 1667 of Landguard Fort, Suffolk; and the discovery by John Andrews of a significant military activity associated with the 1644 Battle of Lostwithiel, in Cornwall. A distinctive aspect of the latter two is the desire to take their discoveries further as projects involving local societies and archaeologists. Tom Lucking, who recently recovered conflict-related material when detecting in fields near Landguard Fort, has expressed an interest in setting up a project to investigate the site further and has successfully generated support from the local archaeology society and other members of the community. Although the author has also been providing some support, Lucking's inspiration to set up a project came from online discussions with John Andrews.


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