Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Now, Thanks to UK Metal Detecting you can get your own Ansate Brooch


"From the evidence, it seems that only 10% of these are recorded"

geometrid caterpillar
There are lots more ansate brooches coming out of the ground these days says a BM lady enthusiastically. All being found by those nice not-in-it-fer-the-munny metal detectorists ("only interested in th' 'istry"). Yes.

Time Lines Artefacts sales is also interested in them. Here's one (1)  Anglo-Saxon 'Ribbed' Caterpillar Brooch 010042, and (2) Anglo-Saxon 'Ansate' Brooch 018116, found "Wiltshire". Here's another (3) a Large Anglo-Saxon 'Collared' Caterpillar Brooch 018697(found in Norfolk") and yet another (4) Anglo-Saxon 'Ring-and-Dot' Ansate Brooch 019339  ("found Hampshire") and a further one (5)  'Anglo-Saxon 'Slashed' Caterpillar Brooch 014445' (not found anywhere),  all shown - with no PAS numbers cited - on their Anglo-saxon Metal Portable Antiquities Sold off to some collector or other page. Are they too all on Ms Weech's gifs?

Here's another (6), also sold  'Very Rare Anglo-Saxon 'Beast Heads' Ansate Brooch' ("Provenance: found Hampshire, UK"). And another [7] 'Anglo-Saxon 'Incised Cross' Ansate Brooch' ("Provenance: found Norfolk, England").Then there's this one [8] currently on eBay now, for sixty quid: 'Anglo-Saxon 'Quatrefoil' Ansate Brooch "Provenance: found Cambridgeshire, UK" (this was'Anglo-Saxon ‘Quatrefoil’ Ansate Brooch 024897, asking price 55 quid). Others sold include [9]:  'Anglo-Saxon ‘Ribbed’ Caterpillar Brooch 024014 ("Provenance: found Bedfordshire, UK." now on ebay currently bidding is at 40 quid). Then there's [10] the 'Anglo-Saxon ‘Ridged’ Caterpillar Brooch 014444' from nowhere with olive oil finish, (sold for 29 quid)

This one [11]: 'Anglo-Saxon ‘Quatrefoil’ Ansate Brooch 024897 ("provenance, found Cambridgeshire), on sale on eBay now, starting price £60.  'This one [12] purports to be an old find: 'Anglo-Saxon 'Beast-Heads' Ansate Brooch 024882' ("From an old English collection"). Here's a mudlarking find [13]: "Lot No. 576 Anglo-Saxon Bronze Ansate Brooch' (Ex Penfold collection, discovered 'mudlarking' on Thames foreshore, 1970s-80s.) sold for 190 quid. There is also an odd composite item [14]: Viking ‘Embedded Brooch' Weight 006103 found nowhere at all. Then there is [15-17] 'Lot No. 161 Anglo-Saxon Silver and Bronze Brooch and Mount Group' containing three of the thingies among some other hoiked archaeological metal items with no provenance at all listed, except "Ex David Winter collection" (a dead or skint metal detectorist?). Eight objects went for just 150 quid.

Others are in on the act of buying the extremely few artefacts a keen metal detectorist will sell. Like KCL Antiquities (Keith Loyd, Ipswich): [18] An Anglo Saxon bronze "Caterpillar" brooch from Hertfordshire.Yours for 26 quid. Or this [19]  'Very Large and Chunky Anglo Saxon Caterpillar Brooch, Dates To 8th/9th Century, "Found Norfolk", sold by "HiddenHistory" only sixty quid. Dei Gratia (metal detectorists "Dave and Garry", Buckingham, Bucks) has a cruddy one [20] for twenty: '8th/ 9th Century AD; Anglo-Saxon cu-alloy Ansate (equal-ended) plate brooch; moulded quatrefoil '(and much else besides). Lloydl2004 on eBay has among other metal detecting finds one [21]: Anglo-Saxon decorated 'Caterpillar' Brooch, 7th-8th century'. Starting price for this bit of ripped-out history and trashed site is just five pounds.EBay seller Myoldteddybear from Northampton had [22] an 'Anglo-Saxon gold gilded caterpillar bronze brooch decorated perfect artefact' (found nowhere, odd corrosion product), bidding was not very intense and it went for just over four quid. Archaeology trashed and four quid in the pocket. This one has some other 'interesting' metal detected finds...

Then on UKDFD there are some, like this one [23] Ansate Brooch (Fragment) from Colernne in Witltshire, and 'not recorded elsewhere' , or another [24] Ansate Brooch found 'Near York' 'not recorded elsewhere' and [25] Ansate Brooch (Fragment), Woodhurst Cambs, 'not recorded elsewhere',  another [26], Near Lincoln, 'not recorded elsewhere'. Then there's this one [27] from Diss, Norfolk, 'not recorded elsewhere'. Number 28 on the list is UKDFD 26556 found Near Southrey Lincolnshire - one of the few which has also been recorded by PAS LIN-3D88E5. UKDFD 25903 [29] from 'Near Lincoln' is 'not recorded elsewhere', UKDFD 24049 [30] is from 'near Winchester', and is PAS HAMP-D5CDF3. Another one [31], UKDFD 21524 from 'near Diss, Norfolk', is 'not recorded elsewhere', neither is [32] UKDFD 20034, from 'Near Lincoln'.  UKDFD 18405 [33] from White Colne in Essex is 'not recorded elsewhwere'.  Another Norfolk find, from near Diss (UKDFD 15044) [34] is currently with the PAS.   A find from Salisbury (UKDFD 13038 [35]) is 'not recorded elsewhere'. A find from 'near York' (UKDFD 11681 [36] is likewise 'not recorded elsewhere'. UKDFD 11197 from Bedale, North Yorkshire [37] is 'not recorded elsewhere'. UKDFD 5758 [38] was entered onto the webpage in 2007, it comes from 'Snape North Yorkshire' and is recorded by PAS but no number is given. Another [39] one (UKDFD 1551) recorded by PAS is from 'Ripon, North Yorkshire and this is PAS LANCUM-36AF72 One of the earliest records is [40] of a simple low-bow type from Withcall Lincolnshire (UKDFD 1395) which is not noted as being recorded elsewhere.

Another brooch of this type [41] is on sale by a Canadian seller (Gaulker Medieval Wares "Own some history"), it's lost its pin lugs, but the seller wants 54 dollars for it - no provenance or export licence listed.  The same seller has another one [42] and a high-bow one [43] neither of the other two have any provenance or collecting history given, but from what this seller has, it seems he has some contacts with cemetery-looting British metal detectorists. Back in England, eBay seller felicitas.perpetua has an apparently unrecorded example [44], Anglo-Saxon bronze ansate brooch. ring dot decoration green patina, UK find'.  Another eBay seller 'Ancient17' (a family run business based in the UK.  Specialising in Coins, Artefacts and Fossils since 1982.) has an 'Anglo-Saxon, bronze equal-armed brooch C8th Cent AD Found east Anglia' (it's an ansate)  for £30. They have another one, found Suffolk [46] a couple of quid cheaper, and a third one with circular terminals [47] "Found Suffolk". There is no mention of recording for any of them. This person also sells ancient coins and other such stuff. A seller called 'coinspopup70' has a rather dinky one [48], no provenance, starting cheap (Length 40mm, copper alloy Anglo Saxon equal arm brooch, reasonable green patination, traces of iron pin. Please see pics as guide to condition" they also have other metal detected items). Something about it leads me to suspect that this one may be continental, was it really found in England?

That search took about two hours, I am sure there are many others unrecorded by the PAS which I missed. I think however that this is enough to raise questions about how many of these brooches are floating around ephemeral personal collections and among the dealers. Above all, there is a lack of evidence that even a goodly proportion of them figure in the PAS database.

The UKDFD data give us a clue what is going on. Of the 18 ansate/caterpillar brooches there, only five (27%) have been recorded by the PAS. I admit gave up trying to match the Timeline ones with the Database entries, I could not find any. This may mean that none of them are there (17 items) or there are enormous problems using the PAS database in its current form for this kind of linking disparate pieces of information with it. There are however another 23+ items currently on auction sites. Not a single one of them mentions that the find had previously been in the hands of the PAS and therefore would come to the buyer with a proper identification and a piece of paper which would vouch for its authenticity and legitimacy. Also if they'd been recorded by the PAS, they'd be on offer under the proper name for the type.

With regard to the auction sales, two things should be noted. The first is that these entries are deleted from the internet within a month of two of the end of the auction, so the ones we can see today are just the most recent sales of those that have been taking place regularly over the past couple of decades. In a few weeks none of these links will be active. Secondly, if it IS true that artefact hunters are "not in it for the money" and rarely sell their finds, that means that there are many more of these brooches hidden away in their private collections than we see appearing in dealers' stocks.

So in fact, of these 48 objects noted here (which represent an unknown number of ansate brooches hoikled out of the ground and hidden away in scattered ephemeral personal collections), there is a record of ONLY FIVE of them being in the PAS records (and I would be grateful for any correction the PAS might want to do to bump that figure up, matching the photos and sellers' loose 'provenances' to items in their database). It does not, however, look good.

Of course "Hampshire" is no provenance at all, and many of the hoiked items on the auction sites have zero provenance. I had it suggested to me by a pro-collecting archaeologist from East Anglia that we should be jolly grateful to the hoikers that pull this stuff out of the ground as they can point the way to unknown settlements of the 'Middle Saxon period'. Maybe, but "Hampshire" as a provenance does not do that. I am struck by the fact that the area where these brooches are coming out of the ground in greatest numbers are areas where fieldwork in the 1970s was having more success than in other areas of England in locating Middle Saxon settlement because the period was marked here by several characteristic types of hard-fired pottery. Is it not the case that known sites of this period are being targeted by metal-detector-wielding artefact hunters after the rather nice and valuable coins such sites are more likely to contain?  How many of the Suffolk and Norfolk metal detected finds of hoiked and collected and flogged off ansate brooches have actually pointed the way to new settlements, and how many came from sites already know, or detectable by other means?

Also to what extent is this pattern related to extra-archaeological factors, like archaeologists who pester artefact hunters for Saxon brooches more than Roman grots for example? We have already seen that the PAS database has a built in bias, to what extent is this affecting detectorists' perceptions of the PAS and their willingness to leave finds with them?

What is the point of celebrating the PAS database by production of triumphant GIFs if the database on which it is based has only a very small, and possibly skewed sample of the data?

And of course it does not need pointing out that every single one of the hoiked and unrecorded ansate brooches is a hole in the archaeological record, the UK's artefact hunters are defiantly trashing archaeological evidence to fill their pockets. Note the sellers I list all have other metal detected items, which if you were to do a similar exercise, I am sure we'd find exactly the same pattern with every single category of find they sell. Enormous amounts of artefacts are being ripped off under the farmers', archaeologists' and public's noses, and the brooch-fixated BM lady is delirious that she can make a GIF from the "data" which are nothing of the kind. Bonkers, this situation is completely bonkers.

1 comment:

Dinoattack100 said...

Four years later and only two on eBay. Does this mean they have all been dug up? It is criminal.

Having said that if anyone can help with the authenticity of a Viking bracelet on eBay, I'd be very grateful.

 
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