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This’ll be short and lame. Had a convivial — but tiring — evening with several of the neighbors. We walked the fields of a local farmer’s land (got thoroughly rainèd upon) and then repaired to his house for food and drink. Oh, I say!

One of the features of his farm is a raised square-ish area, about a hundred feet on a side. Archeologists have told him, based on local history, it’s probably something from the 12th Century, but they’re not sure what. He’s not allowed to dig into it to find out.

Huh. One ancient house we looked to buy “probably” has a smugglers’ tunnel connecting it to the ancient inn across the street. But we wouldn’t have been allowed to dig for it. And there’s this whole town nearby where the terms of sale say you aren’t allowed to dig in your own back garden any deeper than a foot or so, because you’d almost certainly hit Roman ruins.

Folks, if it were me? I’d be out there with a flashlight and a teaspoon before you could say curiosity sent the weasel to prison. Who’s with me?


Comment from TEXMEX
Time: July 29, 2009, 7:12 pm

Oh my god, I’d be out there next to you with a handle broom. I always assume signs that state: “Don’t Dig” are green lights to bust out the shovels.

Comment from Shhhhhhh
Time: July 29, 2009, 8:25 pm

The first rule of Spade Club is not to talk about Spade Club

Comment from scubafreak
Time: July 29, 2009, 8:41 pm

Sounds like the crap that BLM plays with people back here. If you dig up a dinosaur bone, they will immediately rush in to confiscate it from you (after all, what right do YOU have to dig something up on your own property) and sell it at auction for their own profit.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: July 29, 2009, 8:49 pm

And you could also use the teaspoon to get out of prison gaol!

Yeah, it would be awesome to excavate your own backyard. But if you didn’t know what you were doing, you might damage something. And you sure don’t want a team of archaeologists digging up your property and finding a Roman ruin. It’d be worse than having a spotted owl nesting on your property.

Comment from Mrs. Hill
Time: July 29, 2009, 9:57 pm

How did the guys in “The Great Escape” manage? Started from inside the buildings, didn’t they? Surely no one would be surprised if Badger happened to add a few raised beds to the garden…. [saunters off, hands in pockets, whistling casually…]

Comment from porknbean
Time: July 29, 2009, 10:34 pm

What do they have against Roman ruins? Is it that they want to dig it up for themselves some day for any potential treasure or do they figure the landscape would become a bunch of holes like in the movie ‘Holes’?

Comment from JeffS
Time: July 30, 2009, 12:00 am

pnb, archeologists are stupid about this subject. Once, I was involved with a small construction project out in the wilds of Idaho. Literally; hit Yahoo or Google for “Atlanta, Idaho”, and you’ll see what I mean.

Now, this place was a gold rush town, back in the 19th Century. Now, it’s a collection of private property smack in the middle of national forest and wilderness areas. It exists solely because of those gold claims; people live there all year around. Probably on social security checks and other means (I most carefully never asked). Lord knows there’s no more gold mining there.

In the middle of this placid community is the original jail, which straddles a local stream (which apparently served as a natural latrine for the inmates). It’s a small building, decrepit, and maybe 140 years old.

And this old jail house is on the National Historic Register (along with other, ummmmm, historic structures). So we had to be extra careful in planning our construction. And in spite of the fact that we never came within 150 feet of the jail, we were still slapped with a citation for “affecting the historic value”, or some idiocy like that. Apparently the dust that we kicked up was especially dirty, or something like that.

And the older it gets, the more sensitive the site. I’m surprised the Royal Marines aren’t patrolling the area around Sweez’s home at night, with orders to shoot to kill.

Are weasels nocturnal?

Comment from Carl
Time: July 30, 2009, 5:45 am

He could do a ground-penetrating radar survey of the area to see if there is anything significant.

In England many farmers (and most civil engineering and building contractors) when they encounter ancient remains (structures, bones, pots, etc)immediately destroy all the evidence. Otherwise they will be pestered by swarms of archaeologists.

Comment from Pavel
Time: July 30, 2009, 6:21 am

Hell with the teaspoon. I’d have a backhoe out there in a New York second. A very quiet, surreptitious backhoe.

Comment from apotheosis
Time: July 30, 2009, 6:56 am

It’s prolly a UFO. O_O

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 30, 2009, 7:12 am

Yeah, that’s the irony, Carl. Unintended consequences will bite you in the ass every time.

In addition to the archeological wotsits, there are several protected species living in the area. All the local farmers told us, if you see one of these things in the garden, for chrissakes don’t tell anybody or the conservation people will swoop in. If they want to know about these things, it would behoove them not to be so goddamned heavy about things.

Makes me wonder if the endangered are as endangered as they believe…when the people who are in the best position to know are afraid to tell them.

Comment from apotheosis
Time: July 30, 2009, 9:21 am

OT: DRB has a fun little collection of pub signs up.

Like this and this and one that says “soup of the day: WHISKEY” but I can’t link it because the internet is stupid.

Comment from Allen
Time: July 30, 2009, 12:32 pm

Not me, I had my run-in with the BLM over an Indian site I happened upon. I was scouting out a route to take some hunters up to a remote plateau in the southern Sierras and ran across an old tool working site. You would have thought I found the freakin’ Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Anywho, I dutifully reported it to the BLM who then proceeded to give me the third degree over it. These people have no sense of reality. The flakes and discards at a tool site is essentially a dump, an open air trash can.

Don’t even get me going on petroglyphs. Just think, several hundred years from now graffitti will be protected ancient art sites.

Hey PnB, they filmed that movie “Holes” not too far from me. It’s pretty much in the same area where they filmed “Tremors.”

Comment from JuliaM
Time: July 30, 2009, 2:57 pm

“The first rule of Spade Club is not to talk about Spade Club”


But, seriously, how would they know? Do British Heritage have Predator drones monitoring the skies for evidence of unauthorised excavation?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 30, 2009, 5:54 pm

It’s one of those things, JuliaM, where you have to balance the likelihood of being caught against what they’d do to you if they caught you. In my case, probably deportation with prejudice.

Some of the farmers around here get inspected pretty frequently by the gubmint. They get grants and subsidies for, for example, letting fields lie fallow to encourage certain ground nesting birds. Their likelihood of being caught is pretty high, unless they covered their tracks well.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: July 30, 2009, 6:45 pm

First rule of finding an endangered species on your property: S³. Shoot, shovel and shut up. P. J. O’Rourke made the analogy of it being like finding a Rembrandt on your loft, if once you did, you were forbidden to sell it and had to make it publicly viewable at your expense. You’d fire up the grill in a heartbeat.

It’s not like the UK has a shortage of ancient buildings. Bill Bryson pointed out that his little hamlet in Yorkshire had more 17th C. buildings than the whole of North America. A glance at a typical Ordnance Survey map will confirm this.

Comment from Deborah
Time: July 31, 2009, 12:48 am

Metal detector. I’d be for buying a metal detector.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 31, 2009, 7:17 am

Uncle B bought me one for Christmas two years ago, Deborah. That was before I knew how extensively and often the yard had been dug up here. We have assembled an impressive collection of old rusty nails, though.

Detectoring on the surrounding lands is strictly forbidden, but farmers have told me they’ve allowed it. In fact, somewhere around here I have a card with artifacts glued to it — stuff that was dug up in the local fields. They used to sell them in stores in town.

Comment from Oldcat
Time: July 31, 2009, 8:49 pm

Seems the obvious thing to do with the endangered muskrat is shift it over to that jerk neighbor’s yard, take a photo and send it off to the conservationists as a ‘concerned citizen’.

If it runs back to your yard, the eco guys will think the neighbor did it in.

Comment from Gromulin
Time: August 2, 2009, 1:13 pm

Oh….Fuck Yes. I’d have a bunk bed with a tunnel entrance under the bottom bunk, just like in Hogan’s Heroes, on the first day.

I always wanted one of those.

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