Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Detectorists in Denial: Lacock Abbey and its Treasures

While metal detectorists may suggest that "no metal detectorist" (as if)  would dig spade-sized holes in grassland to recover historical artefacts (John Howland's guest post on the John Winter blog: "Tarred with the Same Brush?") the rest of us might like to find that cricket pitch on Google Earth. It is just to the southwest of the village, a stone's throw from the high street, on land that could have been used in the past as a fairground, just a few hundred metres to the south is a Roman road and the cricket club's land is within spitting distance of Lacock Abbey (of Fox Talbot fame, but also used as a location in such things as Harry Potter films). This was a quite wealthy thirteenth century Augustinian house dissolved by King Henry VIII (monastic treasures buried?) turned into a mansion for the gentry. Just across the valley opposite is an Iron Age fort with Roman occupation. Then you might like to have a go at searching the "ARCHI" database for the immediate area (3km search zone) around the village:
Roman villa, hoards, Roman and Anglo-Saxon Treasure noted (presumably from the Treasure Reports - so encouraging further metal detecting in the area). All within 3000m of the village centre.  Switch to Google Street view and have a look at the high hedges all around this large open area of grassland right in the middle of the medieval village. A couple of blokes in there wouldn't be spotted from the road. Ideal place for a bit of nighthawking.  I really do not think one needs to come up with imaginative conspiracy theories to explain the appearance of holes in this field, just because (unlike other holes of a similar nature in fields near or on historical sites all over the county) these ones got into the newspaper.

Google Earth, note the big field shielded from view in an area which
one might reasonably expect to be "productive" for an artefact hunter

Try harder Mr Winter.  Or perhaps instead of trying to deflect attention from this issue, just admit that there are problems with the way artefact hunting goes on in the UK at present and suggest ways of dealing with it which would be acceptable to responsible metal detectorists. Because ignoring the problem, denying that there is a problem and trying to play the victim is simply pathetic, immature and helping nobody. 

Vignette: Lacock Cricket Club secretary Anthony Edwards examines the evidence (spade-hole size square divot) that allegedly it was 'rabbits etc. wot dun it' (Gazette and Herald). 

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