Friday, 19 March 2010

Roman Pendant the BM did not want sold for £30 000

A Roman pendant unearthed in Hampshire in December 1999 was auctioned off on March 19th by Timeline Auctions in London for £30,000, though the estimate was £50 000. It was bought by an anonymous telephone bidder.

The object is of solid gold and has a cast bust of an emperor wearing a laurel wreath and is inscribed with the letters TI CAESAR. There is a loop at the top and the item contains a red carnelian stone. It has been dated to the first Century AD.

The pendant was found by metal detectorist Peter Beasley, 68, from Portsmouth in a field near Alton, after years of digging in the area. It was discovered very near the findspot where the same detectorist had three years previously found a first century AD hoard (the so-called Alton Hoard), which was purchased by the British Museum for £100,000, that consisted of 256 'celtic' coins, a torque and a ring. The pendant was found 10 inches down in a field about 25 yards from the rest of the hoard. "The British Museum kept the rest of the hoard but gave this back as they couldn't date it accurately because there is nothing to compare it with" the finder reported. The hoard itself has been in the BM for fourteen years and is still not published.

So, presumably Mr Beasley, "professional Treasure Hunter" will be out there again next week searching the site where nationally important cultural property has already been found, looking for more financial reward. He may well get some, obviously the follow up to the Treasure inquest was not a proper and full survey of the surrounding area to put the original find in context - obviously something was missed, just 25 m away. What else is still there that we do not know about? Once a Treasure item has been declared, should not the findspots be protected by legislation? After all, the findspots of nationally important finds are nationally important findspots - they should therefore be scheduled with a suitable buffer zone, so they are protected from people going there in the hope of finding more saleable goodies missed by the original finders. Otherwise they will be quarried away by artefact hunters.
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Sources,: Daily Telegraph: Roman jewel depicting emperor expected to sell for £50,000 BBC: Roman pendant bought for £30,000

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