The following account is a reflection of how The PAST team structure our permissions and their acquisition.
Since my rekindling of the fieldwalking and detecting passion we have gained access to several permissions. Some have produced a great variety of recorded finds. As the permissions and finds grew, other detectorists I knew asked where abouts these great sites were situated. In one instance (after being browbeaten) I said which village it was and the next thing I knew the landowner said that someone else been and had asked for permission. He told them "no" for his own personal reasons I guess.
I have never asked any of our landowners to deny access to any other detectorists therefore avoiding the "land locking" syndrome. In a way it's good as other detectorists can do some of the legwork for us and the landowner will tell us what they have found. That's if they were telling the truth!
For example, we gained a new permission (560 acres) in March this year where three other detectorists were already searching and have been there on several occasions. The landowner said that they had found very little, but kept coming back. We surveyed the same area that they had searched and found several artefacts which were professionally displayed to the landowner. The landowner is now considering refusing them further access. This was entirely his decision.... C'est la vie!
This is a very powerful and very emotive subject.
We had to change our original website team name due to complaints about the first two words; "portable" and "antiquities". We did so within minutes of receiving the complaint through an 'official' channel that wished it's source to remain anonymous.
Those two words "portable" and "antiquities" are not copyrighted but we were one step ahead with the correct assumption that someone would complain, thats why we had a bank of other names we could use. Ironically the "Priscan Archaeological" words change is actually a better fit with the team! As long as we kept the initials P, A, S, T, ..it didn't matter. However, what is going to happen over the next 8 months will NOT be changed no matter how much envy and negativity we receive.
Since 2010 we have acquired several new permissions which has led to some fantastic archaeology being recovered but unfortunately this has also resulted in bouts of petty envy. This has manifested itself in many ugly ways, one of them as mentioned above.
People were envious of the amount of new permissions we gained and the quantity and quality of artefacts we recovered and recorded.
It's basically this mis-trust and envy that has ensured that we keep our sites as unknown sites.
In 2013 we acquired 19 new permissions and 2014 added a minimum of 12 more sites to the portfolio. The rationale for over 30 new permissions is explained in the 'Land Mass' paragraph below. Some permissions turn out to be "quiet" so we don't return there. If other detectorists ask for permission the landowner may give them access.
Initially, we set out to find a new area to fieldwalk and detect so we carry out copious amounts of research on that area.
We then ask for permission to detect that area and also ask if has ever been detected, fieldwalked or surveyed at all. More often than not it has never been searched or surveyed by detectorists or archaeologists.
When we have surveyed that area we give the landowner total feedback.
As a rule, after the initial survey the landowner will say that he has other land if we are interested.
We then ask the same questions in the paragraph above and did he get any feedback? We then decide as a team whether it's worth considering it for future surveys. As mentioned, if the permission is "quiet" we will move on to other areas that we have fully researched.
We do find sometimes that a landowner may not be able to grant access to the particular area we have researched due to crop or livestock conditions.
As it happened, a couple of days ago, a landowner rang me to say that we couldn't detect the field we were interested in as we may struggle searching in between the root veg he was growing there! I said that if it had been wheat or barley stubble we would have given it a go. He came back with "we have over 70 acres of stubble at ****** if you fancy your chances there". This was several miles away from the farm itself! Normally I would have said "no thanks" but he added some information about that area that was just too irresistible and too good to be true!
He added that there would be plenty to go at as they had 1600 acres of land. Remember, it was only the root veg field we were interested in!
Another landowner we spoke to last month asked me to ring back in mid-August as the field was still in wheat. This again was miles away from the actual farm...... it turns out they have 1700 acres!!!
To cap it all, the team had a meeting last week regarding some land on an Estate we were interested in that has both Roman and medieval history to it. In fact, a University team are currently surveying part of the Estate.
We have decided to embark on this epic journey, I say epic as the Estate is 8648 acres in size! Remember, we only enquired about one field but we had to sign up to an "Agreement" contained in a large spiral bound document that has been draughted by the Estates lawyers ...and we had to pay for the privilege!
So, there we have it, three permissions resulting in 11,948 acres and we were only initially interested in approximately 15 acres........remember... this not "land-locked"!
Anyone reading this is more than welcome to ask for permission to detect and fieldwalk on any of our sites.
Last but certainly not least...this is extremely important, any breach in confidentiality will cost you the site and any connected permissions too.
One of the possible reasons for a refusal is the fear that word will get out about their land and finds and that nighthawkers, along with coach loads of detectorists, will descend upon the land.
A landowner once actually used those words, but after a good face to face "negotiation" he agreed to give me a free rein on the land. After all that, I didn't find anything older than Victorian!
Because of all the points raised we are not in a position, at this moment in time, to extend invitations to access.
Hopefully, after a few years of gaining absolute trust with some of the landowners we may be in a position to ask if a rally is a possibility.
We'll keep you posted.