Friday 14 January 2011

Another Griffin like the Crosby Garrett one?

Two people have drawn my attention today to Tony Henderson's article "Vindolanda excavators close to hitting jackpot", The Journal Jan 14th 2011.
EXCAVATORS at a Northumberland Roman fort have come tantalisingly close to hitting a cash jackpot. They unearthed a bronze griffin figure, identical to that which features on the peak of a helmet found last year at the north west Cumbrian village of Crosby Garrett by a metal detectorist [...] The latest find was made at Vindolanda fort near Bardon Mill in Northumberland, where 500 volunteers work over the excavating season. Robin Birley, director of research at Vindolanda, said: “The griffin is exactly the same as the Crosby Garrett helmet and has been made by the same craftsman. [...] This has been made for a pretty posh bunch of cavalry and we had cavalry at Vindolanda from time to time.” The discovery is one of several hundred finds made during the excavating season.
The find of two identical bronze griffins made by the same craftsman would be significant. The findspot of the Vindolanda one is certain, the Crosby Garrett find however was undocumented for three months and remains unconfirmed and doubts have been raised about whether the helmet had indeed originally been buried there. This new evidence cvould raise the question whether the Crosby Garrett helmet had been used by a cavalry unit at Vindolanda (a scheduled site)?

While it's a nice story, the truth of the matter is that there are quite considerable differences between the Vindolanda and Crosby Garrett griffins. The former has a flat base, nothing in front and no loops, it's also much smaller than the Crosby Garrett one. It's just a griffin like any griffin. The archaeologists' enthusiasm is getting the better of them.

Note also the way in this story that the current damaging emphasis placed on cash rewards for Treasure by British archaeology's largest outreach scheme has misinformed the journalist that what archaeologists are digging for at Vindolanda is "hitting a cash jackpot".
Vindolanda griffin.

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