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Unsung Heroes

Started by gash, September 29, 2017, 05:25:26 pm

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For years, metal detector fans have been accused of pillaging Britain's past. In 2007 A Culture Minister Desribed Them As 'Unsung Heroes'

Eyes down and bulbous headphones attached to their ears, 17 figures march like purposeful ants across bleak rows of winter wheat. It is the coldest day of winter so far. A blast that forecasters like to call arctic whips in from the north. The Isle of Wight is as exposed as a rowing boat on an icy ocean. "On days like this you begin to wonder about your sanity," says one of these amateur sleuths and treasure seekers known as metal detectorists. Another swears he is sweating inside his fisherman's floatation suit. I am wearing a shirt, jumper, fleece, padded jacket and raincoat with jeans, walking boots and leather gloves and I have never been so cold in my life.

Trying not to question anyone's sanity, I trudge up the hill with members of the Isle of Wight Metal Detecting Club, spades over our shoulders, sleet spitting venomously on our cheeks. Swinging my borrowed Laser Rapier metal detector across the sodden earth is a bit like vacuuming. Except that I am not indoors. And I am doing an entire field.

I am sure there is nothing crazy about kneeling as if in prayer and clawing at chilly clods of mud. "Would you like to see my late-medieval vine leaf-patterned sword suspender?" is, in context, a perfectly sane question. But the suspicion of being in the presence of madness is unavoidable at lunch. The detectorists head back to their cars. A pub nestles in the vale. Bowls of piping-hot chips served up by a log fire beckon. But what's this? It must be -5C with the wind chill, and everyone is conjuring deck chairs and flasks from their hatchbacks. Tea and sandwiches are handed out. We are having a picnic.

Read more : https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2007/feb/13/art.patrickbarkham
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