Saturday, 4 July 2009

UK Artefact hunters disagree over Treasure award


Photo: Michael Darke and his former metal detecting companion Keith Lewis (Mail on Sunday).

"Lorry driver Mr Darke was alone when he found the first few coins in a Suffolk field and believes he is entitled to the lion's share of any proceeds. However postman Mr Lewis, who helped him recover the bulk of the hoard, believes he deserves just as much as the other man. The pair now face a legal battle over how to split a reward of up to £500,000 after a coroner yesterday ruled that the coins were Treasure [...], allowing the finders to receive their full value on their sale to a museum. [...] It was in March last year that the 60-year-old from Woodbridge, Suffolk, found ten Iron Age coins buried in a meadow at nearby Dallinghoo. He gave up searching because it was getting late and the weather was bad. He called Mr Lewis, 54, for advice and invited him to join the dig the following weekend. Within an hour of arriving in the field, the pair had unearthed the remains of an Iron Age cooking pot containing another 773 gold coins - the largest such haul found in Britain since 1849. Yet more were found later. […] Mr Darke had permission from farmer Clifford Green, 66, to use his metal detector on the 200-acre farm in return for splitting the value of any find. But Mr Lewis, of Great Blakenham, who has known Mr Darke for 15 years, is also now demanding a share for his efforts. He is suggesting that farmer Green and his family keep 50 per cent of the proceeds while he and Mr Darke share the other half equally".

There is a preliminary report on the finding and context of this "Wickham market" hoard here and by Chris Rudd here. There is also a short BBC news clip made after the inquest. The pair "dug up the coins about two feet below the ground". Mr Darke "had permission from farmer Clifford Green, 66, to use his metal detector on the 200-acre farm at Dallinghoo in return for splitting the value of any find". The find was apparently reported as Treasure by the farmer, not the artefact hunters.


Marcus Preen said...

My money's on the bloke on the left!

Trouble is, that's literally true unfortunately, as I'm a taxpayer.

Paul Barford said...

I suppose the question is whether the money is for the "finder" or the "finder and digger-upper". You see, after he'd found the first ten, it was already a reportable find, so the question is why - instead of reporting it right away - Mr Darke arranged for a friend to help him hoik the rest out before (?) telling the archaeologists. On what date was the find initially made and when was it actually reported? Why after the first ten was the rest not excavated by archaeologists as the Treasure Act Code of Practice requires to count as "best practice"?

Marcus Preen said...

"so the question is why - instead of reporting it right away...."

Perhaps he didn't know the right procedure. After all, PAS has only been outreaching for eleven years. The taxpayer needs to learn patience does he not? Well that's the official message to cover the fact that a miserable ten thousand people haven't yet all been educated isn't it? I can't think of any other way the situation could be explained.

Or maybe he did know but figured it wasn't worth doing it right since previous reductions for wrong-doing have been derisory? Maybe that's another way the situation could be explained. I'm not sure as I've never heard an explanation for the all-too-common cases of detectorists digging on regardless.

Either way, whatever he did or thought, he was going to be up by a huge mountain of cash and the public purse was going to be down by the same amount. So it was win-win however well or badly or fast he dug. And as he said, he wasn't doing it for the money anyway, but for the history, and is only accepting it because it is being thrown at him.

(Translated, I think his phraseology indicates he thinks the public are mugs for giving him a reward. He obviously hasn't heard he's actually a partner and a hero and fully deserves every penny and we're all delighted to pay up. That bit I HAVE read in official press releases, or words to that effect).

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