Thursday, 15 June 2017

"Jammy Geoff" in Not-Very-Christian Dispute Over Bronze Age Gold Find

Matthew 13:44 for all those committed
Christian metal detectorists out there
with their misplaced feelings of entitlement
(Rembrandt understood this back in 1630)
There is a  dispute between a metal detectorist and a group of Hampshire land owners after a Bronze Age gold bracelet was found in Meon valley ('Row over bronze age bracelet found in Meon Valley' Hampshire Chronicle June 14th 2017)
Metal detectorist Geoffrey Slingsby, 76, from Waltham Chase, has unearthed so many items over the years he is known as 'Jammy Geoff' to British Museum staff.
Jammy Geoff, who is on such familiar terms with the staff of the BM is a 'committed Christian' and 
'says that he has given all money made from his finds, amounting to several thousand, to his church the West End Community Church which has just spent four million pounds on a new building. Over the years he has found a gold medieval wedding ring, a Saxon belt strap end, an Elizabethan gold ring as well as a broken Bronze Age torc'.
And no doubt several hundred other pocketed non-Treasure finds apart from those three Treasure items. I suspect this is the church. If so, these Baptists are not averse to taking money from the collection-driven exploitation of archaeological sites (reminder: Matthew 13:44). Shame on you.
Winchester Coroners Court heard that a gold Bronze Age armlet or bracelet was found on April 23 2016 at a site in Soberton in the Meon Valley [5.37 km from his home, PMB]. The problem arose when the landowners of his latest find were not all agreed as to whether Mr Slingsby had permission to detect on their land or not and whether he has a right to the money given as compensation for the bracelet being declared treasure. [...] The detectorist Mr Slingsby asked for permission to detect the land from the tenant farmers however he was not aware at the time that they were just tenants [...] The land in fact belongs to three people jointly, Ann Jordan from Guildford, her niece Deborah Stefek from New Zealand and her nephew Alan Richards from Portchester. [...] The senior coroner Grahame Short ruled that the armlet should be declared treasure but he would not apportion ownership, saying that was for the parties involved to settle.[...]   Mr Slingsby [...]  said: “I had full permission from the tenant farmer. It should be shared 50/50 between the landowner and the finder. I won’t be detecting on that land again.” 
Yeah, since he clearly does not know the law, probably not. I think actually the finder, who reportedly did NOT ascertain who was the legal owner, and would therefore have been acting illegally should forgo any of the discretionary reward due to the apparent lack of legal basis for him carrying out a search on that land for collectable artefacts to take away. Furthermore, if that is the case, he should obviously surrender any other artefacts he removed from that property to the legal owners.

This is quite interesting, because I was told by the Kent Coroner (when I asked in connection with the 2014 Holborough finds and the evidence that needed to be examined about whether the artefact hunter who dug up this 'Treasure' actually did have permission to be on that site that day), that the establishment of these circumstances of the discovery was not the task of the Coroner's inquest. As readers will know, there has been absolutely no media report of any Holborough Treasure inquest - which in the circumstances I think is a very significant comment on the role of the PAS.

1 comment:

Hougenai said...

This is a situation well known to myself. I have absolutely no doubt that this will result in the finder getting his loot. It is very similar to the 'Furness Hoard' where the BM's Treasure Valuation Committee deemed that the finders had 'Acted in good faith'. This after evidence from the tenant farmer and myself ( my evidence showed that as a local 'amateur' archaeologist i had previously traced the landowner after getting the tenants consent for the archaeological investigation of an earthwork site near Stainton in Furness. After emails to the landowner that were simply ignored, i directly approached the (quarry) site manager who explained in no uncertain terms that such an investigation would not be consented. I put it to the TVC that if i as a local person could seek the correct permissions and be refused then had they sought the same they would have also been refused.). In this case the local HER officer also wrote to the TVC supporting our position.
The finders were awarded £50,000 that was split between them and the landowner. The tenant farmers, about the only ones who acted with any integrity by insisting the find was properly reported got nothing.
This was 8 years ago and it is fair to say the fallout continues as the relationship between ourselves and the PAS officer is now simply 'polite' whereas previously we shared a lot of information.
Even recounting the tale now leaves a bad taste.

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