Thursday, 9 May 2019

Rauceby: One of the Largest Hauls of its Kind Hoiked by Two Plucky Treasure Hunters

A bundle (sic) of Roman coins discovered by a pair of amateur metal detector enthusiasts near Sleaford has been declared as one of the largest hauls (sic) of its kind ever found in the United Kingdom. The discovery, which was made near Rauceby, came after years of painstaking searches in the area by two plucky (sic) metal detectorists. The treasure trove was found by Rob Jones, 59, an engineering teacher from Lincoln, and Craig Paul, 32, a planner from Woodhall Spa in July 2017. [...] More than 3,000 copper alloy coins were found in the hoard [...] The coins were officially declared treasure on Thursday, May 9, under the Treasure Act 1996 at Lincoln Coroner's Court.
(Matthew Lodge, 'Unbelievable! Two amateur metal detectorists unearth biggest haul of Roman coins of its kind ever found in Britain' 9 MAY 2019) They get bigger and bigger, producing huge problems for their full processing and publication (to die link stage). This problem British numismarchaeologists get round by not publishing them to those standards. Simples. This one is 'being scrutinised by The British Museum'. Scrut, scrut. And this is more than likely how it's going to be displayed, the unimaginative and uninformative gor-blimey "wotta lotta stuff  (WLoS) we got Dumbdown Display Mode (DDM)":

The haul of more than 3,000 coins (I
So, the 'recovery method' was a 300:10 split 
Rob said the pair started digging after their metal detectors began making noises.
They tend to do that, in the presence of buried metal. It is not stated how many carrier bags were used  this time... but then,
The site was then fully investigated by Craig, Dr Adam Daubney, an archaeologist at Lincolnshire County Council, and Sam Bromage, from the University of Sheffield, and the team found another 10 coins during the dig. Craig said he was grateful to get the chance to work with the pair in the excavation.
Let us be clear, this report suggests that ('Treasure Act Code of Practice' and 'Code of Practice for Responsible (sic) Metal Detecting (sic)' notwithstanding...) the archaeologists got called in after 2990 coins had been hoiked blind out of the hole by the two plucky Treasure hunters.. and then it was found that:
The coins were found in a ceramic pot which had been buried in a large pit lined with limestone, something researchers say suggests that they were buried deliberately as part of a ceremony. [...] Dr Daubney said the find was evidence of "ritual hoarding" in Roman Britain. "What we found during the excavation suggests to me that the hoard was not put in the ground in secret, but rather was perhaps a ceremonial or votive offering," he said.
Thus, how much information was lost in that the treasure hunters did not stop digging after they'd got the ten coins out and a deep signal (already enough to secure them the Treasure Ransom) and then the microstratigraphy of deposition (like was it inserted as one cash sum, or was it added to at different times) could have been properly studied. All we have from the plucky treasure hunters' escapade as reported here is a heap of coins and Dr Daubney's supposition.

Dr Daubney tweeted this together with a section drawing and four plans (which do not in fact match up and have no levels marked on them):
Context is everything when it comes to archaeological finds. For those interested in the recent coin hoard from Rauceby, here are a few of the sections and plans drawn up by . Sadly we lost the micro-context of the coins within the pot, but we did get the rest.
and of course context is everything does not apply to just the OBJECTS ('archaeological finds'). Apart from the feature itself, what about the wider context of the part of the cultural landscape they explored in a titchy 1.5 x 1.5m sondagette? Anyway, there are other questions (I am not going to reproduce their figures, check them out here):
   W odpowiedzi do  11 minut teu
Modern disturbance" - why not call a spade a spade? What is layer 2 (and why is 1 so shallow if a ploughsoil)? Why is hoard two shown as a small yellow rectangle [question: was it a roll of coins - hinting at what was lost during the "modern disturbance"]?
No prizes for guessing that the euphemism "modern disturbance" refers to a metal detectorist's hoik hole (according to their section 30cm diameter and 45cm deep). "Layer 001" is shown on the section as 13-15 cm deep and is coloured dark. Is this a shallow ploughsoil?  "Layer 002" is only slightly thicker, but the (ploughed off?) rim of the pot protrudes beyond its base - so how did that happen, has an interface been missed? And the shape of the "position of hoard B" (sic)  - a rectangle about 9x2 cm is very suggestive that the coins were not a loose scatter but a 'rulon'. If that is the case, then it hints that the pot may have been filled piecemeal, and not carried and deposited containing 3000 coins at once. 

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