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Metal detecting rally at All Cannings

The Museum has been contacted on social media and email by a number of people about a rally planned last week to take place at All Cannings. The rally was to take place over the site of All Cannings Cross, excavated by Maud Cunnington from 1911 to 1922, by Paul Tubb (published in 2011) and part of a field-walking project by our Archaeology Field Group.

Below is the text of an email sent to those who have contacted us.

Thank you for your email. There are a number of things that I would like to clarify:-

  • The Museum was made aware of the rally being held at All Cannings on Wednesday 25 September
  • I immediately informed the County Archaeologist and the Finds Liaison Officer as I recognised the importance of the site of the proposed rally
  • The Museum had no contact with the landowner and rally organiser – all contact was undertaken by others
  • My understanding is that the landowner had made another field available to the rally organisers
  • No posts on social media by the Museum (or Finds Liaison Officer) identified the rally organiser or individuals
  • The Museum and the FLO were informed by the County Archaeologist at about 5pm on Friday 27 September that the rally had been cancelled. I updated our social media accounts as soon as practicable. Had we been made aware that the rally had been cancelled, then there would have been no reason to ask for the rally to be held on another field

I should like to draw your attention to the Code of Practice on the Portable Antiquities Scheme website.

The first point of the Code of Practice says

Liaising with both the local FLO and the Historic Environment Record (HER) Officer as early as possible (at least 12 weeks before the event) to see whether any areas of the proposed rally site includes known archaeological sites. The organiser should provide the FLO and other parties with maps (at least to a scale of 1:25,000) annotated with the fields to be searched and the expected number of participants. If the HER record shows that the rally site includes a known archaeological site, then the HER Officer and FLO may discuss with the rally organiser how best to ensure an adequate record of the finds is obtained. For particularly significant sites, it may be appropriate to limit the number of people attending the rally or the area to be searched

My understanding is that the Rally organisers did not follow this Code of Practice. Had they done so, then they would have been advised of the importance of the proposed site and the whole situation would have been avoided.

The Museum has worked in partnership with responsible detectorists for many years – examples include

  • hosting Club exhibitions at the Museum
  • giving talks at Club meetings
  • Detectorists have worked with members of our Archaeology Field Group on research projects and excavations
  • hosting visits by Clubs to the Museum
  • publish significant finds in the County Archaeological Journal (Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural Hostory Magazine)

I am proud of the way that we have worked and will continue to work with responsible detectorists and am grateful to them for their support.

Best wishes

David Dawson


Wiltshire Museum