Friday, 23 July 2010

Not the Only Treasure on Treasure Findspots

The findspot where an object or group of objects which is declared Treasure because of their legally defined national importance deserves more protection than merely trying to keep them secret. At this moment there are probably all sorts of folk waiting for the crops to be cut on certain fields in Staffordshire and sharpening their digging tools and making sure their night vision goggles work. The environs of the Staffordhire Hoard beckon.

There are several cases reported (and goodness knows how many unreported) where later searching around where a Treasure find has been made has produced other finds. Sometimes very valuable finds, and searching such sites is potentially a lucrative opportunity. On the other hand, very few Treasure findspots (and that includes the Frome Hoard and Staffordshire Hoard) have had sufficient survey and investigation to allow us to say we fully understand the context in which they were deposited. Obviously any further artefact hunting of the environs of such findspots is damaging the archaeological record (and let us emphasise, these are sites from which a legal process has already determined can be obtained nationally important archaeological resources, not just any old site).

Should it not be the case that when a site produces Treasure, it should receive automatically legal status equivalent to scheduling (which can be later removed should the Secretary of State so decide)? There are at least two good reasons for this, the first archaeological, the second financial.

Such a procedure would make it incumbent on any future would-be searcher to obtain scheduled monument permission to dig up more treasure, and thus allow such a procedure to be refused in order to protect the surrounding archaeology (the archaeological context of the nationally important finds' findspot). Such an automatic scheduling process would make wild searching there without such a permit illegal - but more importantly actually render it easier to charge so-called "nighthawkers" found on a site with an actual offence in contrast to the current laws of "trespass".

This would also make good financial sense, these Treasure rewards are a great strain (and will continue to be) on the resources available for "culture" in general. If any archaeological remains are out of harm's way below plough level on a site legally protected, there is no need, on a site where it is already known such finds may be made, to pay a treasure hunter to hoik more and more of them out of the ground just yet. They can wait for the institution of a more subtle, cost effective [archaeologists do not get a Treasure reward] and academically driven approach to their eventual recovery. Let us try to get the UK Treasure system dealing mainly with accidental finds, and not rewarding people for going out and deliberately targetting sites known already to produce archaeological "Treasures".

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.