Monday, 16 February 2015

Say NO to Ransoms: Questions About the Lenborough Hoard Treasure

Or you'll what?
From ARCHI (Archaeological Sites Index), the database of site locations taken from the archaeological literature for all those "passionately interested in the past":
Do you have a view on the initial valuation of £1.3 million for the UK’s biggest hoard of Anglo-Saxon coins found near Lenborough, Buckinghamshire recently? Should it be higher? Should it be lower? Is it just right? If you have an opinion, join the debate on our Facebook page. As a bit of background, the British Museum Curator, Gareth Williams, has examined just over 700 of the 5200 Saxon coins making up the hoard. He has already indentified (sic) an extrememly (sic) rare Agnus Dei Mule coin. Spinks' valuation experts have put a value of £60,000 on this coin. The finder, Paul Coleman, has already commented on Facebook that he is happy with the valuation of £60,000 for the single Agnus Dei Mule coin. What if more exceptionally rare coins are still waiting to be discovered in the hoard? Maybe the current valuation will be found to be lower than the final figure the Treasure Valuation Committee will come to agree upon? What do you think? 
1.3 million pounds is the entire annual state contribution to the running of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, but to get that money the 30+ staff of the Scheme have to work hard all year round, some of it having to deal with metal detectorists. I think that since the finders hoiked the hoard out blindly by digging down through an earthwork site and recklessly disturbing the order in which they lay in the ground and the relationship of the objects to the feature they were deposited in, the Secretary of State should save the nation some money and make an example of these finders and reduce the ransom substantially to a level commensurate with the loss of information caused by the failure to secure the site and commission a proper investigation. Let the government put its money where its mouth is when it comes to preserving the archaeological heritage. Let us not give in to any extortion by extremists and not pay the ransom.

Alternatively let the hoard after full recording (already at state expense by Dr Williams) be disclaimed and returned to the finders to sell off to get their money. They will either have to hang on to the material, releasing it slowly and piecemeal to avoid depressing the prices or accept substantially less than the fabled 1.3 mln. At depressed market prices the museum will be able to buy a dozen or so of the more significant coins to display as a memento of the discovery. In any case, on any income from the sale the sellers will have to pay income tax unlike the tax-free handout they get through the Treasure system for digging holes in the nation's archaeological heritage.  

Britain should say an unequivocal "no" to wanton archaeological heritage destruction at public expense.

1 comment:

David Gill said...

But I thought that the finder had said that he did not wish to receive a reward.

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