Wednesday, 26 November 2014

"Somewhere in the 'York Area' - we were told".

One wonders whether the reluctance of the York Museums to pay a Treasure ransom for the group of coins coyly known as the "York Area" Hoard  ("Regnalds Hoard Update" Mon Nov 17, 2014 9:40 pm ) is in fact due to doubts among the museum professionals involved that this "found it in my garden" group of objects might not actually be from the reported findspot? This would not be the first time such doubts have been voiced in the case of a metal detected find of considerable value, and the reasons for potential misreported findspots are many and various. It seems that there was no control on this find, which was reportedly recovered over an interval of a few days, yet no archaeological presence confirms the finding or the findspot.

In general, what controls can the PAS reporting process offer that the objects incorporated in their database were actually found where the finder says?

1) The PAS record contains the field: "Object type certainty: ...". Why does it not contain one: "Object findspot certainty: ..." (with the options of verified/ unverified ad a text saying how that information was verified)? Surely this is a pretty vital part of the record, no?

2) In the same way has the finder title to the loose artefacts they bring along to the PAS for recording, or were they removed from the property without the landowner's knowledge? Why are PAS not documenting in their database that they have ascertained the legality of possession of the "finds returned to finder"?

The consistent failure to document these two things seems a fundamental oversight on the part of the PAS both from the point of view of data hygiene and reliability as well as the legality of the organization's own actions.

Vignette: Copy of Aethelred II coin.

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