Friday, 17 August 2012

Detecting Under the Microscope: Eleven Rings from Avebury

Followers of the ongoing open discussion of antiquity collecting in the British Isles may recall the fuss over the organization of the commercial artefact hunting rally at the World Heritage Site of Avebury and the refusal of the PAS (who had a forum in those enlightened days) to condemn those of their partners who went along to do some artefact hoiking.  Heritage Action went along and took some shocking photos at the risk of getting beaten up - such is the transparency over the way the British treat their archaeological record.

Anyway a reader (who coincidentally also happens to be a pal from Heritage Action) was doing some Internet trawling (or is that "trolling", eh, BM?) and found eleven quite clearly metal detected objects all for sale, and all from, guess where? Avebury. Here are the links to the eBay numbers of items offered on an Internet portal near you by Cambridge internet dugup antiquity seller "decorativehandpainted2010":
The description typically reads something like:
Circa 12th-15th century AD Found in Avebury,Wiltshire
Inner diameter **mm [...]  Iam a good seller and I do things properly.My service is flawless.
"Doing things properly" sadly does not extend to supplying  a PAS number for the item concerned (he has one item with what sounds like a Treasure report, is selling other silver artefacts apparently without). Twelfth to fifteenth century falls within the recording requirements of the PAS. Are these items on their database? Shall we look? Well, if I tell the reader that the entire database contains just twelve artefacts from "Avebury Wiltshire", most of which are flints, they might not want to bother looking for these eleven rings there. This is of course wholly typical of the thousands of artefacts offered on eBay weekly, monthly and yearly. Also it is notable that the seller says:


David Gill said...

Can we expect a protest from the Keeper of Prehistory and Europe at the BM?

Paul Barford said...

Well, it would be nice if we had some official reaction to the stripping, polishing and embellishment of metal detected relics which I mentioned in the other post.

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