The Gardai (police) in Roscommon and Dublin noticed something interesting among a haul of stolen goods they recovered from a Dublin house when they apprehended two suspected burglars. Among the items which they determined had been recently stolen from a Strokestown chemist's safe, was a Bronze Age gold Lunula and two gold Sun Discs. The deceased finder's daughter from whom the'd been stolen claimed she had "no idea of the value" or the age of the artefacts which she'd kept locked in a safe for 40 years.
In Ireland since the 1926 antiquities act it has been illegal to search for archaeological artefacts without a licence and an obligation to report all finds was introduced. That doesn't stop some people; as a result, objects such as these are removed from their original archaeological contexts and priceless archaeological information is lost forever. In this case the finder decided to keep these items for himself, and any information about where they came from was lost with his death.
Following the Derrynaflan Hoard court case in the 1980s the law was strengthened with regard to metal detecting. Current Irish law states that any and all artefacts found, belong to the state and must be reported. The National Museum has no legal obligation to reward anyone for doing so, but generally does to encourage reporting. It did not work this time though, did it?
The writer of Blather.net which I used as a basis for this report comments:
Photo: the lunula and sun discs.
such priceless artefacts belong to ALL the people of Ireland who share the right to have such national treasures safeguarded and presented to the public. Along with the right NOT to have to pay inordinate prices to get their own heritage back from other thieving Irish ****s, I mean, people, who plundered it
from its find spot in the first place. Ireland has one of the most progressive legislation in Europe when it comes to this type of thing. Spare a thought for our neighbours in England, where metal detecting on private land IS legal. Known battlefields and archaeological sites which have not been scheduled by the government are sometimes used to hold metal detecting 'rallies', with the landowners permission. The Portable Antiquities Scheme is sometimes forced to set up a stand [there], in the hope that 'participants' voluntarily bring over their finds for examination. It is a rare case where Ireland leads the way on certain issues and legislation. Now, of course the Strokestown find was probably nothing of the sort. At all. The said items will be formally presented to the National Museum sometime this week. No doubt through gritted teeth. But all's well that ends well. Thanks to several thieving bastards, separated by four decades, we can now take solace in the fact that as it went unreported to the Museum, there's no need for a 'finders fee'.