Friday, 2 January 2015

Lenborough Hoard - Best Practice Fail

 The Best-practice-fail Lenborough Hoard came up on a commercial rally, here is the site the rally targeted:
Our Super special Christmas dig is all arranged now and weather permitting, will take place at Manor Farm at Lenborough. [...] There are up to 15 fields of pasture that have not been searched, at a guess over 120-acres & now the cows are in we are free to roam the whole farm. We have use of a barn for shelter and a toilet will be on site too Tons of history here, DMV site, Medieval Manor house and windmill site, Roman treasure found at adjacent village and much more....
As can be seen from Google earth the whole area is covered by grassland and in that are well-preserved earthworks of a medieval village (?) and field systems. Removing artefacts from such a site without detailed plotting is simply wanton destruction.The field systems, droveways and other features extend outside this area, making an extremely interesting landscape complex for eventual detailed landscape archaeological examination - but not after these "wanderers" have ripped the middle out of it.


Here they are, actually ripping the middle out and the earthworks they are digging in can quite clearly be seen even at ground level.This is obviously old grassland they are removing collectables from. How many were recorded and how accurately?


What are they thinking? What is the FLO thinking? What was the stratigraphical relationship of the layer the hoard was dug from and dug into to those composing these earthworks? Is the archaeologist (the PAS FLO) able to tell us? When can we expect the excavation report? We can see the hoard crowd is standing in a depression, is there an earlier buried soil under these earthworks at this point, and what is the relationship of the hoard to these layers? 

 Why was this site not secured and a proper investigation, lasting several days, not the fading light of the afternoon hours just before Christmas, not instigated? From what we see on the videos, one can only conclude that this was just archaeologically-condoned site trashing. 

And a final photo shows just how near the hoard was to the farm buildings just behind the diggers. Hardly 'remote'. It can also be worked out where it was, which tells us how far this findspot was from the hedge-lined road and how likely it would have been to have spotted activity from the road. It would have been very easy to mount a watch over this findspot until a properly equipped professional team could take over. Why was that not done? 

Edited screen grab from video posted on You Tube by Coinshooters

 Oh, and do have a look at the video where they are scooping the coins out by the handful from the bottom of the hole:


heritageaction said...

"Why was this site not secured and a proper investigation, lasting several days, not the fading light of the afternoon hours just before Christmas, not instigated?"

Well, whatever the reasons that will be trotted out they won't add up to an excuse - for the Rally Guidelines say "It is good practice for the rally organiser to discuss with the FLO and HER before the event how important finds will be dealt with" - and that clearly didn't happen.

Detectorbloke said...

If I was the farmer I'd get some big fences up quickly, with the site being so identifiable I wonder at how many nighthawks it and surrounding areas is going to attract.

Paul Barford said...

If I were the farmer, I'd do what he should have done on 21st, park a big bit of farm plant over the findspot (or get those bales out of the barn and heap them up and put a tarp over the lot). I bet there's coins left behind, and a red bull can. Just one big MESS.

Detectorbloke said...

Could well be something given that the detector only got that deep because of the sheer size of the find. Could be all sorts of coins, artifacts that could give more context just out of detectable range nearby. Not forgetting non metal stuff of course!

Being that there were 100 blokes who you don't know from Adam i'm sadly not surprised they dug it as fast as they could before night time, especially as the farmer wasn't there.

Paul Barford said...

There are a hundred and one ways to secure the site, NONE was used.

The task of the FLO is to encourage best practice (that is her JOB, what she's paid for), not take part in the general hoikfreeforall.

Her job is to make sure that this sort of thing does NOT happen. Her job is to make sure the TA Code of Practice is followed.

We have examples of hoards being guarded and dug properly, and these were when the FLO was not ON SITE. Why, when the FLO was there from the beginning was this not done?

But this is all part and parcel of responsible detecting, isn't it?

You can
- park a tractor over the site,
- pile bales up (plenty in the barn I hear)
- get a security guard to sit there
- use one of the HAPPAH detector detectors which I suggested a while back PAS should invest in.
- detecting clubs could appoint (elect) a Treasure officer whose task it is to look after a hoard findspot if something turns up on a dig,
I am sure there are other ways to stop any of the 100 blokes going out there after dark. Do you think there are many nighthawks in Weekend Wanderers? Perhaps they should be weeded out of clubs?

And how about arranging such events on days when the landowner IS there to be consulted? (or calling it off if he's called away?) They are, after all, his coins and HIS RESPONSIBILITY.

Detectorbloke said...

I would be interested to know why such speed was deemed to be required. Impossible to weed out nighthawks out of a club. They don't all look shifty.

ju said...

Not sure where the idea of speed came into it. The beginning of the hoard discovery was around 11.00 or so which gave them at least 4.5 hours to do something about it before light started to fade.

Paul Barford said...

ummm.... er... what?

ju said...

The point I was trying to make, obviously lost in translation, was that they had over 4 hours to call somebody experienced in to excavate.

Paul Barford said...

I guess the fact that the only information about the account "Ju" is that you are a follower of inclined me to make certain assumptions on who you are and what point you wanted to make.

On Sunday 21st December at 11:00 you are not likely to find anyone who is going to drop everything and get a professional team together to deal with it straight away. This is where the organizers of a commercial rally at such a time needed to have contingency plans in place to deal with how to secure the site until a team can get there.

A quick DIY hoik with a paint stripper and carrier bag should not be an option that anyone considered was available, especially on a stratified site like this.

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