Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Discussion of the Lenborough Hoard by British Numismatists

Coin collectors across the Atlantic are getting really confused about the reason why there is discussion and dismay about the hasty inexpert excavation of the Lenborough Hoard, they put it down to "archaeological snobbism" and suggest that UK archaeologists should "start" to co-operate with artefact hunters (in the form of a portable antiquities scheme I guess). To show that not all numismatists are equally thick, we may turn to some interesting discussion about the coins of the Lenborough hoard among British numismatists. On Gregory Edmund's excellent NumisMatters blog there is a text on 'Anglo-Saxon Coin Hoard from Buckinghamshire' (which he labels 'The Cunetio of Anglo-Saxon Coin Hoards'). He starts by stating: "I'm not here to chastise the Metal Detecting community, nor am I here to glorify the idea of 'treasure' or searching for it". He dismisses the idea (apparently initially floated by the FLO) that this might have been the product of the nearby Buckingham mint. He suggests (on analogy with the two famous Colchester Hoards) hat the use of a lead container may signify that they were buried associated with a building (if so, that was missed by the manner in which they were hoiked on a December afternoon). He comments on the issue of 'nicking' of the coins and the possible association of the deposit with the Danegeld. Obviously knowing something about the internal structure of the deposit would have been of great help in understanding the question of the function and makeup of the hoard and a great opportunity was missed here. From the information available at present, he suggests the earliest date for the deposition of this hoard is 1035/1036AD. In a second post 'The Canutio Hoard [sic] - Latest Images (January 3rd, 2015)', we learn that the mints present are London in various abbreviations and Oxford. He further discusses the question of 'nicking'.

On the English Hammered public discussion list, Richard Ambrose gives a link to an online text on the Lenborough Hoard (Ancient coins hoard found in field). He too gives reasons for his doubts that the coins came from the Buckingham mint, and has some other comments which are worth highlighting, coming as they do from a numismatist:
It does look as though the hoard was recovered in a way that will make reconstructing its order of deposition impossible. That's a great shame, and shouldn't have happened given the presence of a Finds Liaison Officer. No doubt though there were challenges with securing the site. In one of the photos all of the coins visible are Short Cross pennies of Cnut. Perhaps this hoard was contemporaneous with, and deposited for the same reasons as, the shadowy 'Cnut Hoard' of c.1993. I'd be surprised if this hoard came to market. Deposits of this size and importance tend, quite rightly, to end up in institutions. [...] [my emphasis]

The 'Shadowy Cnut Hoard' reference is to a group of (probably more than a thousand) coins deposited about 1030/1035 AD that started to "surface" on the market in 1993 (see here, here, here , here - note most of these coins are sold with a collection history) and incorporated into numismatic research without as much as a murmur about where it came from ('Cambridge Area?') and how it entered the market (see here, here, here, here, here). It was the non-reporting of finds like this which led to the necessity to replace common law Treasure Trove with the 1996 Treasure Act with legal sanctions for not reporting finds, when it became clear how many were actually being made by metal detectorists and not reported previously.

The TA is accompanied by a Code of Practice which the Finds Liaison Officer and her metal detecting "partners" disregarded. Let us hope that even if its integrity has been compromised by the way it was hurriedly extracted, the finds reach an institution for numismatic study, and that the Treasure Ransom is reduced in this case due to disregarding what has been laid down for nearly twenty years as basic best practice.

1 comment:

kyri said...

hi paul,you made your points very well.there is a good and bad way to excavate a hoard.in the case of the lenborough hoard,the flo couldnt get the coins out of the ground fast enough,before it got dark.i wonder why.the best practice fact-sheets,which flos must have been given, would have been better used as toilet paper,less waste of our tax pounds.it was a great find and well done to the metal detector.the PAS is working but its not perfect and this is another example of what is wrong with it.

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