Wednesday, 26 August 2015

UK Metal Detectorist Did Not Donate?

LANCUM-4118A0 (Treasure case number: 2014T205) A hoard of eight artefacts: two socketed axes, one large spearhead (in two fragments), two small flat chisels (which were discovered in socketed axe 2), a rapier blade fragment inside a hollow-head spearhead (which was discovered in socketed axe 1), a chape fragment (in two fragments). Recorded by: Mrs Dot Boughton Found by: "This information is restricted" [a local metal detectorist from the Furness area]

Here we have another of those double entries for which the PAS database is notorious. This is a Treasure case and thus has to be reported through the Treasure reports, but as I've pointed out before, resources are being used to publish a duplicate record in the PAS database to bulk out the numbers. These resources are not therefore available for recording bona-fide non-treasure items which are being turned away. Although the hoard contains eight items, the PAS 'record' currently only illustrates three of them by small photos just of one side - what kind of a 'record' is that?

More interestingly, I note that there is no information in this record about the means of discovery. on checking we see that there is only random recording of this information in current PAS records (unlike the systematic approach required by the record template in use in Roger Bland's PAS). This freestyle (karaoke?) manner of writing records makes their analysis for any archaeological purpose more difficult. A metal detectorist selects the finds to pick up and record in a different manner from other (non-collecting) members of the public, and a schoolboy amateur  archaeologist doing systematic fieldwalking will pick up and report another range of artefacts. I suspect that if this is deliberate policy (and not a result of falling standards) it will have been done to "protect the reputation of the artefact hunting partners". Until now the PAS in their annual reporting has been making a great thing about how many percent of their "wotta-lotta-stuff-we-got" finds came from metal detecting. That number has fluctuated around the 80% mark - because detecting club meetings and commercial rallies are an easier place for FLOs to pick up finds to record than meeting the general public. These figures in turn have been usd by mouthpieces of the hobby to show how "useful" metal detecting is to us all. Suppose now the LVA-PAS is not attracting so many metal detectorists, are these figures now not being recorded in order to avoid the necessity of documenting the decline?

This hoard however caught my eye because of the bit at the bottom: 
The landowner kindly waived his right to a reward in this case, allowing the Dock Museum to acquire the hoard at reduced expense.
Th landowner's name is Mr Hutchinson Of course the finder's not in it fer the munny is he?  Now I think that in the name of transparency, anyone taking public money for allowing the public access to the public's own heritage deserves to have his name made public.

UPDATE 26th August 2015
Tantarrarahh.... the British Museum rides to the rescue of the reputation of its partners. On twitter I asked them in response to trumpeting this "success" whether "just the landowner had waived his reward' and quick as a flash they tweet another find...

Not exactly prime collectable quality are they? In fact two pieces of rather junky coins, not even the PAS record says why they are in any way worthy of being added to the national collection alongside all the other Henry II coins there.

1 comment:

heritageaction said...

Damn right!
They've just launched a world wide appeal to pay Mr Paul Coleman an obscene amount of money for the Lenborough Hoard which he and his mates decided should be dug up damagingly not properly so if his name is out there none of the others should be offered anonymity.

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