4. Conclusions

In conclusion, it can be seen that UKDN and its forum membership are thriving, lively and, above all, extremely active in all things metal detecting and its associated disciplines. It is a vast, free resource of knowledge and people that can, and should, be considered not only by detectorists but by the wider heritage community as a free service and resource offering a wide range of skills and knowledge, not just nationally, but globally. The UKDN staff and membership comprise people who are passionate about their heritage and recording it for future generations. They bring many skills to the archaeological table from the multitude of careers they are, or have been, involved in and are eager to learn from others. Liaison and communication are recognised as the key to the future of understanding and working together. Education of the general public, the heritage sector and the metal detecting community to ensure that mutual appreciation and collaboration are recognised as the way forward are primary aims of UKDN.

In practical terms, it is not only in the post-excavation work that our members are able, and willing, to help for free, but also at the 'coal face' on site. All can find, and fund, their own third-party liability insurance through the hobby's representative bodies, and are well educated on relevant Health and Safety concerns and, so, would not be a burden on site. There will be other 'obstacles' not mentioned here but surely nothing that cannot be overcome with dialogue and pragmatism. We would not seek to replace paid archaeologists as we know that this is a strong concern among the profession, but we could enhance the digging/survey team numbers enabling more ground to be covered, both physically and metaphorically. In these hard economic times what reason, other than the academic elitism referred to at the Newcastle Conference, is there to ignore such a resource any longer?


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