Sunday, 26 May 2019

The Archaeological Values of the PAS Database (X): Iron Age Coins "Found" in Shropshire, Yes?

Here's an interesting case accepted by the British archaeological establishment and media at face value (BBC 'Mystery of Shropshire Iron Age coin hoard detectorists' 22 May 2019) . You see, the archaeological issues here are sidestepped in order to present a 'mystery' that surrounds the finding of a 'hoard' of gold and silver Iron Age coins in Shropshire (Record ID: HESH-44097D
Object type: COIN HOARD). The story goes:
The coins were found in the Teme Valley in 2017, and reported by the landowner the following March [...], who said he was given 19 coins by two metal dectorists he had allowed to search his land. Fifteen have been declared treasure. Four were not because of uncertainty about their origins. An inquest heard the men - known as Andrew and Charlie - have not been traced and may have kept more coins. [...]  The hearing at Shrewsbury's Shirehall was told the pair, who were possibly from Kent, visited the land  numerous times in 2017. It was told they had left a mobile number, but have been unreachable, and police found the number was unregistered. [...] While the 15 coins declared treasure are from a tribe native to the West Midlands, one gold and three silver coins are from another tribe which resided in East Anglia, he said. A report by the British Museum said they could have been "acquired elsewhere" and were not found to be treasure as it was "unlikely" they were from the same find.
So, some Iceni coins were included in the haul? If there is doubt about their findspot, why are the findspots of the others in the same batch given any credence in this report? What value are PAS 'data' collected on hearsay basis?
Shrewsbury Museums are keen to acquire the coins for its collection [...] Peter Reavill, Shropshire's finds liaison officer, said it was possible [the finders] had split finds between themselves and the landowner, meaning there may be more unreported coins. 
Alternatively, the worn, cruddy and chipped coins with their disparate patination may have been bought on eBay from various sellers at different times and somebody ('Andy'? 'Charlie'? or somebody else) is making an effort to 'launder them' as a Treasure find.

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