Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Ursula Digitally Straightened, or Stomped-on?

On looking again at the photos of the object discussed in the adjacent post, which I had assumed showed the object 'unrolled' digitally, it strikes me that they seem instead to show the metal as snapped [green line in the photo on the right]. This is the state in which it appears in the Guardian article promoting the BM exhibition ("Treasures of Heaven", British Museum, London, 23 June – 23 October 2011 - more blooming "Treasure" ) into which it was hurriedly inserted weeks after being found by the tekkie ('Badge dug up in field is medieval treasure', 20 June 2011).


Hmm. Stuart Noon had the object in the Museum of Lancashire on 1st June 2011 (in fact noted as the "date of discovery" in the PAS database) when he recorded it, and made that awful photo of it scrunched up. But by just three weeks later, a photo had been made of it showing it straightened out and snapped in the process (and a bit missing?) and the object was scheduled to be a star metal detector find in the BM exhibition (a curator of which had said he was "beside himself with excitement on seeing the object - and when was that?). So where and by whom was an attempt made to straighten out this object? 

It is rather disturbing that in this breathless BBC video the object was clearly still bent when it was filmed in the hands of the PAS' Dr Michael Lewis. Furthermore a close-up of the object shows that no museum conservator in their right mind would consider that it could be flattened out without breaking. Of course less brutal methods exist for producing a displayable object, a flexible mould could be made, gently flattened, and then an electrotype made in it, which can then be silvered and displayed adjacent to the rolled-up artefact. Unless of course you are in a hurry to get it on show to let the punters gawp at it. What is the pount of hoiking treasures out of the archaeological record and then mistreating them? 

Readers might like to look at the metal detectorist examining his finds, mixed and loose in a coin tray with no labelling. 

Vignette: apparently forced-apart Ursula (Photo: BBC) 

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