Saturday, 3 January 2015

The Excavation of the Seaton Down Hoard

The Seaton Down Hoard was reported by its metal detectorist finder (following the Treasure Act Code of Practice) and therefore properly excavated by a professional team, properly equipped, by a recognised methodology allowing proper observation and documentation and at a proper pace. This was facilitated by arrangements made by the finder to secure the site and guard it over three nights.

The original hoik hole (from the finder's video):
The finder's hole

The hoard was reported, and left until it could be properly examined, here it is under methodical excavation:

excavation in progress, finder's photo

excavation in progress, planning grid

The hoard was properly exposed and recorded by drawing and photography. Here we see a close-up of the hoard showing its structure in situ, there seem to be two discrete groups of coins here, it is not one tangled mass of coins (the Beau street hoard in Bath on dissection also reveals it has a internal structure of discrete groups of coins)

The hoard

The hoard under excavation, checking around the findspot

What a contrast with what the FLO did at Lenborough in four and a half hours one afternoon with a paint stripper and a Sainsbury's plastic carrier bag. The one excavation got a lot of press coverage and praise from the PAS, what are they saying about the other? ("wottalotta finds we got"?).

This is not purely "archaeological idealism" as one commentator from the British Museum put it, it is the difference between doing real archaeology (recovering and documenting information), and hoiking of trophy geegaws from the archaeological record. The PAS in theory was set up (and is paid for from public funds) to attain one and not the other.

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