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Author The ethics of artefact removal
carnkie

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 27/06/2008 15:14:18
Reminds me of a conversation I had with Bryan Earl about environmental pollution from mining. He mentioned that there was a section of road in Cornwall which, if you drive across with a geiger counter switched on in the car-quite normal of course-it will suddenly start clacking off the scale. Hot aggregate you might say. Of course it might have been a ruse to keep the road frost free.
Just to add there are about 144 SSSI sites in Cornwall many of which include quarries and mines. I think it comprises about 6% of the total land area.
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royfellows

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 27/06/2008 16:34:51
I have been keeping out of this, however.
I have my own unique way of safeguarding artefacts in areas accessed by one of my famous digs, I make the thing so tight you will be lucky to get your battery cell through. I can understand why my ears burn sometimes.
No seriously though.
I have just reworked my dig in the Henfwlch mine, Nant-y-Moch, mid Wales. Timbers had rotted, and the ground had moved.
There is a perfect example of the type of wheel barrow known is Derbyshire as “Sough Barrows”, these are quite small and built without legs. The “Roys Dig Mark 2” is much better and more sociable than the old, but still with insufficient room to get the artefact out. Where it is, is where I wish it to remain, and without my access dig there would be no access.
The adit was originally blocked by a fall from roof packs due to timber rotting, what else is new, and I perceived the need to carefully move it from its original position to a safer place, where it is now. The barrow was so close to the fall area that the fall was basically in contact with the front wheel, and if the old miners had left it just 3 feet forward, it would have been smashed and buried. What a piece of luck!

I will be there on Sunday as I want to take pictures with my new equipment, so if anyone round there and see a red Mazda held together with chewing gum and pieces of string, stop for a crack, or get changed and come in the mine.


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skippy

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 27/06/2008 16:39:53
Carnkie
Didnt they move the Gunnislake tips? I remember Dick Barstow used to go over the football pitch at night with a counter looking for torbernite - dont know if he ever found any - but apparently its the warmest footie pitch in the country!!



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carnkie

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 27/06/2008 17:06:51
Yes I think they were cleared late 70s early 80s. At least they won't need under soil heating. Smile IP: 88.105.130.217
carnkie

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 27/06/2008 17:21:01
As we are discussing artefacts it might be of interest to mention one that has found a new lease of life - examining archaeological sites for traces of ore stuff. The Cornish Vanning Shovel. Bryan Earl used one to great effect to assess two 4500 year old sites in the Taurus mountains of Turkey. I've uploaded a short article on the shovel by BE. IP: 88.105.130.217
hymac580c

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 27/06/2008 17:21:02
As for gold coins, people say that they would take it to a museum etc. But in the real world would they??
I think many relics should be in museums, but there are many things that museums do not want. They only want thing that is of interest to the visiting public as they usualy have limited space and storage. And limited finance. Also it does not mean that if a person is working at a museum that he or she has an interest in relics. They hust might be out of a job when a vacency came up.
Many vintage cars and lorries have been recovered from fields and sheds to be restored at great cost by individuals or groups. And many rare collections of classic cars, lorries and machinery have survived in private collections.
And as we all know many items have rotted away in museums and private collections for that matter. Take Llechwedd for example. But there are many others that are the same.
It is just a matter of getting the balance right I think.

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JR

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 27/06/2008 18:56:27
I accept what you say Hymac. I was one of the first to respond to the question saying I'd take it to a museum. This is for two reasons. First, if it was only one coin it is of limited monetary value (and I have no idea at all how to 'fence' it !). Secondly I believe the true value of a single coin in a field is due to the fact that it points to possible past uses for the land. The only reason the metal the coin is made from is relevant is because most other metals corode. Gold doesn't.

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IP: 88.110.74.187 Edited: 27/06/2008 18:58:01 by JR
hymac580c

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 27/06/2008 21:15:20
Another important factor that most people do not consider is that a museum is a business, and must attract paying visitors to make it viable. Although some are subsidised by the goverment now. Therefore you must have items of interest at your museum otherwise you will not have any customers. I think the modern term is 'marketing'.
That is why I think that an old shovel, hobnail boots and similar artifacts are better left underground for the next visitor.
But on the other hand a 'historicaly important' threatened relic
might be better off at the 'right' museum.
I think some of the best places to visit are old mansions and castles etc run by the 'national trust. Many of the staff working at these locations are voulnteers because they have the enthusiasm and interest in what they do. And really put an effort in answering any questions asked. The railway museum at York is also very good.

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minerat

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 28/06/2008 11:35:59
HI Skippy. Back in the 50s I used to go with a guy to the hillocks of Bradwell moor and shovel them on to the waggon and take it to "the goll" at Hopton Mining Co. where it was processed, the material was "cawk", baryte to outsiders. it was the same in various parts of Derbyshire at the time.
A couple or even one guy would get an ex army truck and a pick and shovel and make a living out of the old hillocks, the country needed the material, as it does now, fluorite has gone up the mineral chain of a needed commodity since China stopped supplying the U.K. It wont be long before we see old mines or even new mines being re-opened, the world shortage of minerals will determine what and where some mines will re-open and the government will back these moves.
So maybe there will be enough mineral specimens to be had by all just like the 60s,70,and 80s without having to wade neck deep in water.
just for thought. copper,tin zinc,wulfram,fluorite,baryte are all at premium prices and rising, my thoughts are we are in for a boom time in the mineral trade...when it will happen depends on need...the need is now.
might just calm the slagging off on forums !!!! Thumbs Up

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be afraid.....very afraid !!!!
IP: 81.155.244.170 Edited: 28/06/2008 12:00:15 by minerat
skippy

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 28/06/2008 12:07:21
Mr Minerat...

Pleasure to see you back here again - you been a bit quiet lately... how's Florence, or daren't I bother asking...

Sneaky

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carnkie

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 28/06/2008 12:53:46
Talk of mansions run by the National Trust brings to mind Lanhydrock, one of the most imposing houses in Cornwall. It was built in the early part of the 17th century by the Roberts family on the proceeds of the hard graft of the tinners. It was skulduggery of the highest order and a classic example of tin producers being manipulated. A brief extract from John Chynoweth’s ‘Tudor Cornwall’ sums it up.

The most spectacular rise in Cornwall was achieved by the Roberts of Truro. Richard Roberts (I) was a manorial steward or bailiff who later became a trader in wood and furze (gorse used for fuel), and reputedly left his son John £5,000-6,000 when he died in 1593. John used his inheritance to lend money to tin producers who paid him in metal. By monopolising its sale he reputedly became worth £300,000. When he died in 1615 his son Richard (II) set about securing official confirmation of the family's gentry status by purchasing a grant of arms in which he is described as Richard Roberts, Esquire, son of John, son of Richard, and by buying a knighthood the following year.139 He then placed a tablet in the church of St Mary's, Truro, alongside 'sumptuous personifications' of his father and mother, with an epitaph to 'John Robartes, Esquire, the son of Richard Robartes, late of Truro, Esquire, deceased', although neither man qualified for the rank named on the tablet.14" Sir Richard took this opportunity to change the spelling and pronunciation of his surname from the common patronymic Roberts to the more distin¬guished sounding Robartes. In 1620 the family registered with the heralds a three-generation pedigree beginning with Richard (I), but other unofficial heraldic manuscripts took the pedigree back a further six generations, recording marriages which are not confirmed by the regis¬tered pedigrees of the families of the reputed brides. One suspects that these earlier ancestors had been added, or invented, to suggest antiquity of gentility for a family whose heads had already risen from trader to knight, and whose head at the time of the heralds' visit in 1620 was already marked as a man likely to rise even further. Sir Richard bought the large estate of Lanhydrock near Bodmin in 1620, and began building an imposing mansion there ten years later. He became a baronet in 1621 and a baron in 1625, and his son was created earl of Radnor in 1679. The children and grandchildren of Richard (I) succeeded in marrying members of the Cornish gentry, although it is significant that despite their wealth none of these alliances was with any of the leading, long-established county families who continued to regard them as upstarts.141 The 'Corner Room' in Lanhydrock House still displays an impressive, but largely fictitious, heraldic scroll compiled around 1630, which purports to show Sir Richard Robartes' ancestry.
Oops slightly Off Topic
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AR

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 28/06/2008 14:07:18
Level1 wrote:


There are miles and miles and miles of walls (and roofs and floors) in old mines. 99.9 % + of them are of no merit.


Perhaps you would care to enlighten us as to criteria by which you personally judge the passages to be of no merit. Whilst you're at it, you could also justify why "In that situation the minerals surely have priority". For study purposes, there are plenty of damn good specimens already above ground, why does any mineral exposure have to become fair game for removal by anyone who claims an interest in it? I also don't agree that you cannot appreciate minerals underground - I have an interest in minerals but I can enjoy a good example of veinstuff where it is without feeling the need to bring it to day.

Level1 wrote:

"look at mine tips". Yes look at them - while they last. As part of its Lead Rakes Project in the Peak District, English Heritage produced a report (Bulletin 42) on the state of the mine tips, or "hillocks" as they called them, in the Peak District.


One of the two authors, John Barnatt, is registered on AN and I've emailed him to draw his attention to this thread, as I suspect he may have some comments to make about his work being used to justify mineral collecting. I will however point out that a) the bulk of hillocks in the Peak were generated by miners surface-trenching to expose and assess the vein, rather than as a result of mining and b) what mineral is in them is not specimen quality, hence why they aren't much disturbed by collectors. If we had a location where they contained something like the Mimetite you get from the Caldbeck mines, I expect the situation would be very different.....

Level1 wrote:

Only to those with a gripe against collectors is it "ransacking". If the mines collapsed irrecoverably tomorrow then "rescuing" might be a better adjective. As I understand it, many of those who have dug out large sections of these mines have been collectors, and their actions have made areas accessible to all including significant historic remains.


There is an assumption behind the argument that digging by collectors is a good thing because at Nenthead it opened up new ground, which is that no-one else would have done it if they hadn't. There are several AN members who will testify that this is not the case, and these passages would have been dug out in due course anyway.

Level1 wrote:

"not as the miners left it" The miners themselves did not always leave things nice and tidy. Pillar removal at the end of a mine's life has, doubtless, left many a mine sealed forever. With respect to specimens, I once found a piece wrapped in ancient newspaper (early 20th century) by a miner, and elsewhere in the same mine (Rampgill) vugs scraped clean by the miners themselves (their own rusting tools and rotten newspaper giving it away) presumably to get material for their spar boxes.


It was the job of the miners to remove minerals, and the condition that they left the mines in is irrelevant to this argument. The critical factor is how those of us who go into them treat them, and the general consensus is that we should be aiming to leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photographs. This thread was started to discuss the NAMHO guidelines on artefact removal, which try to set out the limited circumstances under which we should consider departing from the ideal.

Level1 wrote:

So let's put this into perspective please. The main threats to mine sites do not include collectors, and without collectors the minerals would be lost anyway when the mine falls in or the farmer removes the tip. Mines are not the exclusive preserve or one group or another. There has to be a bit of compromise on both sides. Yes leave the historic stuff and structures alone, but where these are not affected then leave the collectors alone too.


Whilst I agree that mineral collectors may not generally be a major threat to above-ground remains, on any underground site with something of interest, it's a very different story. Ian Tyler had a rant to me one time when I was in his museum about the damage done to Carrock mine by collectors in search of Scheelite and Wolframite samples, and I could also cite the pulling down of packwall in the back workings at Masson (a geological SSSI...) to get at Fluorite and Calcite.

There is also one major issue entirely avoided here which is ownership. To go into any mine or quarry and remove something without the owner's permission is theft in the eyes of the law, and to hammer it out or damage anything to get at it counts as vandalism and/or criminal damage. Unauthorised collection is likely to upset landowners, resulting in loss of access for everyone. Add to that the element of collection for personal profit and the tendency of mine explorers to look askance at mineral collectors is understandable.

What this really boils down to is responsibility and respect, for the mines themselves, the rights of the owners, and for others visiting. I would say that anyone who does not respect the places they visit and acts without any thought of the possible implications of their actions has no business being there (catch me on a bad day and I'd say they need dropping down a deep shaft!). Yes, compromises can be reached as can be seen from the links that have been established between archaeologists and metal detectorists but it takes understanding on both sides, and your opening comments about 99.9% of passages show little understanding of the perspective of the mine explorer and historian....

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JR

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 28/06/2008 14:37:30
AR wrote:


"to go into any mine or quarry and remove something without the owner's permission is theft in the eyes of the law, and to hammer it out or damage anything to get at it counts as vandalism and/or criminal damage"


I believe that the offences would be Aggravated Criminal Damage and Theft with the (normally) civil offence of Trespass becoming a Criminal offence due to the fact that it was committed in order to perpetrate the other offences.

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IP: 86.133.175.117 Edited: 28/06/2008 20:50:09 by (moderator)
ben88800

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 28/06/2008 19:46:40
How often are we going to have this debate i get it you dislike us and what we do you more than likely do thing that i do not like but thats a fact of life we all enjoy doing things that other people hate but we all have to get along could you imagine what would happen if we made such a song and dance like this about everything. i can not agree with you when you blame the collecters for all the damage all the ones that i know would shoulder at the thought of pulling down features like pack walls and arching or pulling hoppers out but i have seen explorers moving things to get to places but thats ok its all in the name of exploration.

now can we return this thread to that it is here for and thats the artifacts if you want to have a go at the mineral people start a new thread like Vanoord said

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skippy

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 28/06/2008 20:37:35
AR wrote:

Ian Tyler had a rant to me one time when I was in his museum about the damage done to Carrock mine by collectors in search of Scheelite and Wolframite samples, and I could also cite the pulling down of packwall in the back workings at Masson (a geological SSSI...) to get at Fluorite and Calcite.


Aha...........................! Smartass

So now we have admission that mine explorers do naughty things too...... guess wot.... they go down holes that they're not supposed to.... Oh dear if the LDNPA heard that Mr Tyler or any other mine explorer had actually gone down one of their lovely, supposedly out of bounds holes.... heavens, we should call the thought police immediately...........

Smartass Smartass

Vanoord - this is a community of people with a common interest - holes in the ground - how did it get SO sidetracked by, I suspect, a minority....



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IP: 86.133.175.117 Edited: 28/06/2008 20:46:33 by (moderator)
Vanoord

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 28/06/2008 20:52:59
skippy wrote:

Vanoord - this is a community of people with a common interest - holes in the ground - how did it get SO sidetracked by, I suspect, a minority....


Search me! Roll Eyes

When I have a little time to watch a thread closely, I may consider experimenting with whether it's possible to discuss mineral collecting without things degenerating... Wink

I think it best if for now, we agree to disagree - and worry instead about the pikeys carting off our heritage to weigh it in Smile

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Level1

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 28/06/2008 21:17:41
AR - as Vanoord said this thread was originally about artefacts and seems to have drifted off topic somewhat, although it could be said that to some extent similar arguments apply to minerals as to artefacts. Anyway I'll be brief (which in my rambling style means only a modest dissertation) and touch on only a few of your points. If you want a fuller discussion of your post then feel free to start a new thread and we can air it there.

With respect to the merit of miles of walls, I could simply turn the question around and ask by what criteria those who wish nothing be removed decide that their interest should take priority over mineral (or artefact) collection? Your question surely cuts both ways. So perhaps you can tell us why a wall that is no different to many miles of other walls, except that there is a glint of mineral in it, should have special merit?

I am glad you can enjoy veinstuff in situ. So can I. But can you enjoy material that is covered in mud, buried in rubble, concealed behind rock ...? What if it is unusual and requires analysis to identify it? Or microscopic as with many rare (but highly interesting) minerals? Mineralogy by its nature is a specimen-based activity. And yes, there are good specimens already above ground but without on-going collecting nothing new would ever get found.

John Barnatt's input would be interesting. I am surprised his report made no mention of the mineralogical interest of mine sites. I am also surprised that you consider the contents of those hillocks to be not of interest to collectors. Like oakstone? Wulfenite? Smithsonite? Aurichalcite? There is a whole sub-group of collectors, called micromounters, who'd be livid at your suggestion! The current issue of the UK Journal of Mines and Minerals has a report of exceptional yellow smithonsite being found in a tiny tip from a bell pit in Yorkshire. OK, not the Peak District, but a very similar style of occurrence. I agree most of the hillocks are of little mineralogical merit, but just occasionally they are. How many of these exceptions have been lost totally before mineral collectors got to them? Sadly we will never know.

With respect to collecting (of anything) being theft, it is not so if one has permission - something I am particular about. It does beg the question of what one does if the owner is untraceable (or, more accurately, the mineral rights owner, as the landowner may not be the same). In that case then technically it may be theft (although surely not in the same moral category as burgling someone's home and nicking their jewels). But how often do these elusive and enigmatic owners complain, or even care? Ultimately it is up to them to lodge a complaint, and if they fail to do so it suggests an indifference on their part. There is also a principle in English law that states that if an activity has been engaged in, on someone's land, for 20 years or more without objection then it becomes a right. This made the news when a mushroom picker used it successfully to fight off DEFRA in the New Forest. I can think of many mines where collecting has gone unchallenged for far longer.

There, I told you I'd only write a modest dissertation. There is much more that could be said, and many more examples and references I could cite, but in deference to Vanoord, will refrain from doing so. Perhaps a new dedicated thread would be appropriate. I am not planning on starting one, and am reticent to continue this debate here, but would be happy to contribute if someone else does initiate one.

As for removal of artefacts from mines, I am one old artefact who finds getting into them in the first place hard enough.
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skippy

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 28/06/2008 21:57:22
Well they just weighed in my chainsaw, stihl saw, big SDS hammer drill, cement mixer, and a bunch of other stuff from one of our building sites - plus all the lead from the roof that had only just been finished two days before. P'raps they'll be too drunk on the proceeds to worry about the mines for a bit...
Guns Guns Guns Guns Guns

Angry

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Vanoord

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 28/06/2008 22:47:25
Ah, yes, the law of Prescriptive Rights, where 20 years' use establishes a right. A long story and a set of rights that are very difficult to overturn.

However....

Nec vi, nec clam, nec precario is an absolute requirement for establishing a prescriptive right, which means: Without force, without secrecy, without permission - all three of these have to be valid for a prescriptive right to be established.

In this instance, gaining permission to do something would remove the possibility that a prescriptive right could be created. Similarly, if you passed barriers or gained access through a previously secured entrance. And similarly, if the landowner is unaware, then that wouldn't count.

I'd be amazed if you could establish any sort of prescriptive right over a mine, but again that's a different topic altogether.... Off Topic

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The ethics of artefact removal
Posted: 28/06/2008 23:54:58
Well! I can think of a certain mine I have been going down for well over 20 years, how do I get this right? Big Grin

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