Sunday, 7 July 2019

Archaeological Mismanagement: 'More Treasure to be Discovered', Site was 'Not Excavated Properly' claims Staffordshire Hoard Finder

Nighthawks will perhaps wait, or perhaps they will not be waiting, for the longer evenings in a few weeks time (Jamie Brassington, 'More treasure to be discovered' claims Staffordshire Hoard finder', Staffordshire News 6th July 2019).
An amateur metal detectorist who unearthed the £3.2 million Staffordshire Hoard has relived the moment he discovered the huge haul and said he believes there is more treasure to be discovered at the site. [...] Mr Herbert said: "I believe there are another 100 or so pieces in there. "There are still pieces missing from the hoard. [...] Mr Herbert said he believed the site was not excavated properly which is why some pieces are still missing

The site was not excavated properly. Indeed a fact not addressed by any of the discussions I have seen of this find, if (as we now know) a substantial number of the items found come from all areas of the Staffordshire Hoard Helmet, it was not broken up into portions that were scattered, so why are they not in the collection we have? Again, the evidence of the fragmentation and the basis for the reconstruction of this object need urgently to be published, ten years on from their finding.

Mr Herbert is clearly superstitious and now we learn that he believes in his own entitlement to the degree that a guardian spirit of yesteryear picked him, personally, out to reveal where the Treasure had been buried:
It was on July 5, 2009, that Mr Herbert came upon the hoard. He said he was almost guided to the location. "I was there between 11.30am and 11.45am on the day," he said. "I had the sun on my back and I closed my eyes. "Then I felt a sensation of my left cheek. When I opened my eyes I thought I would go in that direction and started walking. It was around 80 yards away that I had the first signals." When the signal became really strong, Mr Herbert began digging into the field. He dug down to around 12ft when he found a small piece of gold, which looked like a pin and which he examined under a magnifying glass. This spurred him on to keep digging and he then found other items [...] Mr Herbert said it was only his second time visiting the field. He had found a few old coins, thought to be Roman, on a field opposite previously. He made his first trip to the Staffordshire Hoard field a few weeks earlier, which ended abruptly after his detector malfunctioned, but on his return trip, he used an older model which he was more accustomed to.
I presume the "12ft" is a dumb journalist's mistake for "12 inches (= 1 foot)".
But this article contains an interesting piece of folklore or is it oral history? fact that has been suppressed by the archaeologists discussing whether the archaeology of the landscape in which this hoard had been inserted had been thoroughly investigated.
Mr Herbert said the children of two previous farmers of the land, who owned it before Mr Johnson, told him that an ancient burial mound existed on the site.
Here we see the consequences of British archaeology's current fascination with the 'objects'  rather than the all-important context and the site itself - and its place in the cultural landscape. In the pursuit of glittering prizes, British archaeology has lost sight of the actual aims of archaeology.

hat tip, Nigel Swift

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