Monday, 10 March 2014
However, I have to wonder if I have a serious personality defect. I love the British countryside - both the natural environment itself and the omnipresent feeling of being surrounded by the remains of human history (there is an amazing Roman fort nearby and countless other remnants of the past all around the area) - but at no point did I sense an overwhelming urge to buy a metal detector and share the compunction apparently felt by some of my fellow citizens to start wantonly digging bits of it up. Curiously, I respect the evidence of our past so much that I feel it should be investigated properly and carefully in an organised manner under the sensitive supervision of trained and knowledgeable people.
the remains of a Roman palace not too far away - even the garden has been restored based on traces of original planting in the soil - and I dread to think what would have happened to that evidence if the field had been found by a group of untrained people digging for treasure willy-nilly without realising the significance of their finds, stopping and reporting them immediately before hundreds more holes were made in the soil. Metal detectors - no matter how sophisticated - are not likely to recognise traces of plant remains.
When archaeologists rattle on about the archaeological record being "fragile", they mean it. It ain't just hyperbole.
Just a few thoughts. But in the meantime, whatever my personality defect is, I think I can manage to continue to enjoy the countryside without gratuitously digging bits of it up.