On of the problems with the current status of artefact hunting in the UK is that these people hoik out archaeological finds willy nilly, and in many cases are in no position to identify what they have found as anything of any significance, and many such items do not get shown to the archaeological authorities, and either get tucked away and forgotten, or are simply discarded. A recent news article highlights this tendency. A man the press insists on calling an "amateur archaeologist" bought a metal detector about twenty years ago. He lived at the time in the village of Pylle, Somerset, "which is close to the Roman road known as Fosse Way and a former ancient settlement".
He spent two days scouring his garden in Pylle. Among several things he dug up was what seemed to be a risqué and raunchy Roman remnant. The pendant-style piece of jewellery clearly shows a man and woman engaged in an intimate sex act. Mr Dix thought it was a bit strange but pretty special and tucked it away in a box for safe keeping.He only realised the pendant could be special (sic) after a similar brothel token appeared in the press earlier this month.
Mr Dix’s raunchy Roman jewellery shows a man and woman engaged in a sex act. He said: ‘I believe the piece I found is slightly different to the one in London - I think it was what the prostitutes would have worn round their necks and people would recognise what service they were willing to provide.’ Mr Dix, who now lives in Shepton Mallet, added: ‘I am eager to hear what the experts say.’
It perhaps comes as a surprise to this Roman-find-hunting-and-finding-member-of-the-British-public that there has long ben a thirteen million quid Portable Antiquities Scheme set up to do precisely that, it is a shame he did not consult it earlier. How many other metal detectorists have dug up stuff that they tucked away (or threw away) without bothering to show it to anyone?
It is worth noting that the actual name "Portable Antiquities Scheme" appears in neither of the two articles cited here.
Metro Reporter, 'Amateur archaeologist unearths 'Roman prostitute's pendant'...', Metro 20th January, 2012.
Shepton Mallet Journal, 'Roman remnant reveals risqué routines of our ancient invaders', January 19, 2012.
Vignette: Shepton Mallet Journal