Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Roger Bland on the so-called Crosby Garrett Helmet and the Lenborough Hoard

(Looting Matters Tuesday, March 24, 2015)
"Bland has only placed his notes on line and not his refined final views. But his online presentation appears to overlook some of the key issues relating to both these 'finds'...". 
There is, quite simply, no "appear" about it.

There is a jump in logic in the first case. At Crosby Garrett the FLOs were eventually shown a hole, well after the object had been rushed off to Christie's; they were not shown the helmet in situ, or any photos of the helmet in situ. Bits of bronze plate from the fill of the hole found many months later may be from the helmet, they do not and can not prove post-fact that the helmet had ever been in that particular hole. Indeed the stratigraphy suggests that there are problems accepting that it had. The helmet and the floor layer the deposition pit cut through differ in date by up to three hundred years - where had the helmet been all that time, and why was it only buried when it was? Such a helmet would be more likely to be used and found somewhere near a major northern fort (such as Catterick, for example); who carted it all the way to a remote hilltop pasture and buried it, when and why? The subsequent small-scale excavation of the findspot reported by the finders supplied no answers.

At Lenborough, why was it a "rescue" situation on an unthreatened earthwork site in the HER? What has the presence of 100 PAS-partner metal detectorists got to do with anything? Dr Bland says:
"They did not appear to have been laid in any order and there was no trace of, or room for them to have been in leather pouches".
Did not "appear"? How on earth can anyone tell coming down on top of it in a narrow steep-sided hole in the fading light of a mid-winter afternoon?  Excavation - "rescue" or not - does not depend on "appear", it requires documentation. Where is the documentation that the coins were randomly scattered throughout the pile?  We note the apparent lack of any substantive discussion of the archaeological shortcomings of the Lenborough Hoard removal on the PAS's own internal forum.  Dr Bland is indeed totally missing the point about what people (archaeologists) are saying about what the Portable Antiquities Scheme did here and about what it is gobbling up millions of pounds claiming to be able to do.

Still, it is nice to note that Dr Bland is not entirely oblivious to what "some people on the Internet" are saying. One day the PAS will realise that they cannot go on dodging the very real questions that exist about what they are doing.

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