Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Two Rallies, Two Counties: Success and Failure

Ann Byard in a hard hat (Twitter)
John Winter, 'All Our Yesterdays – Anglo-Saxon Burial and Brooch' 26 November 2015.
1) Weekend Wanders rally, West Hanney in Oxfordshire, Sunday 21st December 2014, a multiple Anglo-Saxon coin deposit found by metal detectorist Chris Bayston. FLO in attendance Anni Byard, the Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) for Oxfordshire. Metal detectorist prepared to wait for results. Searching stopped, site protected, archaeologsts brought in, context of find documented. By contrast:

2) Weekend Wanders rally, Lenborough in Buckinghamshire, Sunday 20th September 2009,a single Anglo-Saxon brooch found by metal detectorist Paul Coleman ("row upon row of coins stacked neatly"). FLO in attendance Ros Tyrell, the Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) for Buckinghamshire. Metal detectorist did not wait. Keyhole hoiking commenced immediately, hoard emptied onto tabletop in the evening, context of find totally lost.
So, it seems the main deciding factor in turning collecting into archaeology is the person and character of teh Finds Liaison Officer whose job it is to liaise with finders to get good practice. As Mr Winter's account suggests Buckinghamshire that day apparently experienced FLO Fail, even though there was a good example to learn from five years earlier in a neighbouring county. Tragic.

Ms Byard has been mentioned in this blog a number of times, not always coming over too well, but at least here she did what her job description requires, so praise where praise is due. And as far as Lenborough is concerned, criticism where criticism is merited - though don't hold your breath to hear any from the Portable Antiquities Scheme who we may easily observe institutionally have very little self-criticism. So I note from the programme that there was nothing at the PAS conference two days ago about 'Avoiding a Second Lenborough'. But a lot of "didn't we all do well?"

UPDATE 26th November 2015
Coincidentally, Ms Byard  points out herself today how well she's doing:
1 godz.1 godzinę temu
And here it is - 25,000th find - not much to look at but only the 3rd known!
Note the creepy retweet to Vaizey. Now, how many finds made in Oxford in that same period of time and pocketed by metal detectorists have not been recorded? Is it not valid to point out that this too is a statistic of which the public should be aware? If it is a valid point, why are the PAS keeping so quiet about it?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think there's more to the difference than the FLOs.

At West Hanney the presence of human remains meant the find had to be left alone until the police had done their thing. Not to have done so would have been a crime. Funny how the law does a better job of ensuring responsible behaviour than merely requesting, innit?

At Lenborough the FLO was surrounded by impatient, selfish dolts, all except one of them mouthing the barefaced lie that it had to be excavated that day as guarding it was impossible. (We have proof of that from the video sound track and subsequent chatter). Surrounded by such a mob, she complied (and if she'd walked away it would no doubt have been hoiked within hours anyway).

For me, the main criticism that should be directed to her was the subsequent shameful whitewash job she did, kidding the world she hadn't done it because of extreme pressure from heritage-unfriendly ignorami. But then, that's what her employers expected of her and all of her colleagues (although I get the impression that under New PAS the gag is being loosened - see next Saturday!)

BTW, let's not worry about there being "a second Lenborough", Lenborough was one of many, as the record clearly shows.

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