Artefact hunter and 'London-based IT professional' Charles Wood, 44, of the Muddy Boots Metal Detector Club decided he'd have a go at the end of March finding artefacts to add to his private collection close to the King Stone near the stone circle of Rollright Stones near the village of Long Compton on the borders of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire in the English Midlands.
The field he chose had been the site of the Rollright Fair (Kingstone Farm, Little Rollright, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire), so if nothing else there'd be some dropped change there to find. He picked up a faint (so potentially deep) signal and dug, and dug and dug until he hoiked out a metal ladle-shaped thing (David Gazet, ' Metal detector enthusiast unearths 1400 year-old Saxon skeleton' Banbury Guardian, Thursday 06 August 2015).
We thought it was a tractor piston at first but we soon realised we had found something more.” The group contacted finds liaison officer Anni Byard at Oxfordshire County Council and the next day experts from Oxfordshire, Surrey and Buckinghamshire made a site visit. Then began a painstaking three-day excavation.The excavation located a early to mid seventh century female inhumation aligned north/south accompanied by
silver, copper alloy pins, a metal chain, an amber bead and a rock crystal amulet attached to an iron chain. A decorated antler disk was found under the woman’s back, which could have been a hair or dress accessory, as well as metal hinges and a lock plate which could have formed part of a wooden box. This may have contained the bronze ladle that sparked the find.Unfortunately the latter had been hoiked out earlier by the artefact hunter so we'll never know. In the plate was in the grave and the ladle in the box, then the ladle was in the grave fill. The photo shows clearly that Mr Wood had dug down below plough level ("35 cm down" in the daily Mail) into the top of the grave fill (like happened at Cumwhitton when readers will remember the Bland PAS stubbornly denied that to have been the case to save the artefact hunting 'partner' embarrassment). There seems to be no record of any of the finds made by this metal detectorist or any of his fellow club members in this field in the PAS database. Why not?
|The ladle lying in the hole (Banbury Guardian)|
How much did this excavation cost, what resources are going to have to be made available for the study and publication of the material? What resources are there for fieldwork to establish the site and regional context of the single grave found when a metal detectorist targeted a known ancient site?
This map and this satellite photo shows the area where Mr Wood was digging. The numbers '7' mark where an Anglo-Saxon cemetery is known. Presumably Mr Wood was outside the protected areas, but this whole area with its concentration of multi-period archaeology should obviously be scheduled and not the target of random artefact seeking for personal entertainment and profit.