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More than treasure hunting: the motivations and practices of metal detectorists and their attitudes to landscape

Winkley, FMB; (2016) More than treasure hunting: the motivations and practices of metal detectorists and their attitudes to landscape. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis aims to consider how attachment to landscape is generated, and investigates how this might be enacted via metal detecting, in order to better understand the attitudes of metal detectorists searching today. Metal detecting is a unique way of experiencing the historic landscape, allowing amateurs to access heritage hands-on, locating and unearthing their own fragment of the archaeological record. With an estimated 15,000 people currently detecting in the UK, and 1,111,122 objects recorded to date on the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) database, a huge expanse of England’s historic places are being walked, searched and mapped. Using original quantitative and qualitative data, this study investigates the attitudes of metaldetector users in England and Wales in order to better understand what proportion feel attached to the landscape on which they detect, and what impact this attachment might have upon their feelings towards discovered objects, the historic past, and their general practice. The popularity of metal detecting, along with the unique situation that this country’s legislation accommodates it, demands the heritage sector moves toward creative decisionmaking and programming if it is to offer adequate protection to the archaeological resource whilst also engaging a community of interested participants. By using a range of methodologies, this thesis breaks new ground by demonstrating the sense of responsibility felt by detectorists towards their local landscapes, safeguarding them and maintaining an accurate record. The resultant PAS database has proven to be a valuable resource for both researchers and professionals, instigating 87 PhD theses and 15 major projects. This work would not have been possible without the cooperation of detectorists who, as a group, often feel marginalised and unappreciated. By contrast, data presented herein demonstrates that the conscientious detecting community is a constituency no less valid than the country’s local history societies, and one with a significant contribution to make towards a more complete understanding of the English landscape.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: More than treasure hunting: the motivations and practices of metal detectorists and their attitudes to landscape
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third pary copyright material has been removed from ethesis.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1477478
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