Trends & Traitors

I am raising a glass to you all as I write…Cheers! Good health and good fortune in 2018! This year has been a good one for the hobby, especially here in the UK, where reported treasure finds have increased, contributing enormously  to the common heritage, proven by official figures recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

There are no other official figures anywhere else.

Counter Intelligence?

During the Cold War, the Soviet-backed secret police of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Russia decided to find out which of them was the most efficient. A rabbit was set free in the woods and thugs from the three secret police outfits invited to catch it.

The Polish SB (Służba Bezpieczeństwa) went in and placed animal informants throughout the forest. They questioned all the plants and trees and concluded that rabbits do not exist.

The Czech StB (Státní bezpečnost) goes in. After two weeks with no leads they burn the forest, killing everything in it, including the rabbit, and they make no apologies: The rabbit had it coming.

The Russian KGB (Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti) goes in. They come out two hours later with a badly beaten bear. The bear is yelling: “Okay! Okay! I’m a rabbit! I’m a rabbit!”

Listen to the expert; NOT an ex-spurt

“Metal-detecting can make an immense contribution to archaeological knowledge, if practised responsibly, and the vast majority of people are keen that their hobby has a positive impact.”

Who says so? Michael Lewis does, and he  should know since he’s  the head of portable antiquities and treasure at the British Museum, following the announcement that a record amount of ‘treasure’ was found in Britain’s fields and ditches by members of the public during the past year.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme goes from strength to strength as does the good name of the hobby. Well done. It’s appalling that the good people who run the PAS suffer the vile and personal abuse heaped on them by people on the fringes of both the archaeological sphere, and sanity, while the likes of the Council for British Archaeology sit back and typically, do nothing. What a shameful disgrace the CBA has become.

Of Turncoats and Quislings

That idiotic minority of unthinking, uncaring Tekkies who dig and leave holes in parks and other sensitive areas, have been called  amongst other epithets, ‘traitors to the hobby’. But is the term too strong a description for what might be incidents of inadequate detecting skill or training?  If you’re ever  tempted to use the word to describe a person or an action, you might find it useful to know the history and origins of the word.

The most infamous traitor was of course Judas Iscariot, who for 30 pieces of silver, betrayed Jesus Christ to the Sanhedrin. His name is synonymous with betrayal or treason.

In US history, no man is more reviled than Benedict Arnold who fought against the British in the Revolutionary War and who later switched sides and fought for the British. At the outbreak of the war, Arnold participated in the capture of the British garrison of Fort Ticonderoga, and hindered the 1776 British invasion of New York at the Battle of Lake Champlain.

The following year, he played a crucial role in bringing about the surrender of the British army at Saratoga. After having fought with distinction he developed a strong resentment towards his former comrades, believing that he deserved greater recognition for his exploits. In 1779, he entered cloak-and-dagger talks with the British agreeing to surrender the American position at West Point in return for money and a command in the British army. In the event, the plot was uncovered and Arnold escaped to the safety of the British lines. His name became synonymous – in the US at least – with treachery.

Nowadays, the word ‘traitor’ is more often substituted with the word ‘quisling’, universal shorthand for traitor, and  was first used early in the Second World War in relation to the United States’ decision to enter the conflict.  Winston Churchill said: “Hope has returned to the hearts of scores of millions of men and women, and with that hope there burns the flame of anger against the brutal, corrupt invader. And still more fiercely burn the fires of hatred and contempt for the filthy Quislings whom he has suborned.”

‘Quisling’ is of Scandinavian origin meaning  a person who collaborates with an enemy of an occupying force, so named after the pro-Nazi Norwegian politician, Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonssøn Quisling, who for his treachery and collaboration with the Nazi’s  occupation of  Norway, was rightly put against a wall and executed by firing squad at Akershus Fortress on 24 October 1945. His last words – typical of all  narcissists – the inability to show remorse, or reconcile guilt – were, “I’m convicted unfairly and I die innocent.” Bang!

During the Cold War, the word  was  applied to those who participated in the establishment of Communist regimes. As an illustration, the renegade Czech socialist, Zdeněk Fierlinger, was often mocked as a quisling for his collaboration with the Czech Communist Party. There were others who’d have sold their grannies to the Soviets for a handout.
Perhaps using the words ‘traitor,’ quisling,’ or ‘turncoat,’ to describe an inadequately trained Tekkie, is a bit harsh? That said, professional thieves  who use metal detectors as  tools to assist them  in their crimes, are not traitors to the hobby – as they aren’t part of it; just as skeet shooters are not bank robbers.


“Many free countries have lost their liberty, and ours may lose hers; but, if she shall, be it my proudest plume, not that I was the last to desert, but that I never deserted her”…..

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, in a speech to the Sub-Treasury, Sangamon Journal, March 6, 1840


8 thoughts on “Trends & Traitors

  1. I am pleased as punch you have launched your own blog, John, and am looking forward to your “Very Howland” view of the hobby, the people in it, and some of the buggard folks who should keep to the shadows.. Congratulations and good luck…it is looking good!


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