2. Liaison

Best practice is promoted at all times in the recording of finds with the PAS and the Scottish Treasure Trove Unit and the necessity for accurate, and regular, recording is explained at every opportunity. Some members, including one of the authors of this article, Tom Redmayne, are now regularly self-recording their finds with the PAS and this is forging new links and associations between the two groups. Tom's records can be seen there and show the quality of the information and data on individual finds that can be achieved through co-operation.

Those that are self-recording are also in a good position to help, and offer their experience to, other forum members who are looking to make the move into self-recording their finds. We also have staff members of the PAS who are UKDN forum members and they offer an invaluable link to the scheme for our membership.

Accurate recording and the research that it allows are always promoted on the forum at every opportunity. Indeed there are forum members, some of whom are archaeologists, some of whom are not, who have made it apparent that they are actively carrying out research into a particular artefact or coin group. Examples of groups being studied are: lead spindle whorls, medieval pilgrim ampullae, Roman seal boxes, livery buttons, lead cloth/bag seals, early military buttons and coins of Edward III and Henry III. Forum members are encouraged to report these types of finds and also post them on the forum so that they are made known to these researchers who make great use of the information given. This way they get to learn more from the finder through direct contact rather than just by looking at a record that may not be detailed enough for their requirements or offer the chance to ask for further detail and information. The opportunity to talk directly to each other is one that must not be underestimated.

UKDN is a forum that welcomes and encourages liaison with professional and amateur archaeologists and other heritage organisations; indeed we have several archaeologist members that will agree (hopefully) that discussion on the forum is fruitful and far from the 'them and us' antagonistic confrontations that many would imagine. Many 'urban myths' and misunderstandings between practitioners of both disciplines have been clarified simply by talking about various subjects in a mutually respectful manner. This is one of the strengths of UKDN that is not always available on other internet websites and fora.

It has already been mentioned that best practice is promoted across the entire range of topics discussed on the forum and that dialogue with the profession of archaeology is highly encouraged. This is not to say that the forum is attempting to be pseudo-archaeological; far from it, but it is important to have frequent dialogue on matters that affect, and can be affected by, metal detectorists and archaeologists alike.

A good example of this was in 2008 when the Portable Antiquities Scheme was subject to budget cuts that were severe enough to force redundancies if the cuts were approved. Immediately upon hearing this, UKDN mounted a campaign involving members lobbying and writing to their MPs and signing petitions. Thankfully the funding crisis was avoided owing to the hard work of many people across the heritage spectrum and UKDN was a part of that support and effort. Head of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Roger Bland, thanked UKDN members (and we know he will not mind us quoting him here).

'All of us in PAS are tremendously grateful for the wonderful support UK Detector Net gave us when we were threatened with funding cuts and our future looked uncertain. I think you can see that the whole situation is now transformed thanks in large part to the support you gave us earlier this year' (Bland 2008, 22).


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