Wednesday 11 April 2012

Archaeologist concerned by ITV1 history series

Jake Kanter, 'Archaeologist concerned by ITV1 history series', 'Broadcast' magazine, 4 April, 2012
The president of the Roman Finds Group archaeologist forum has raised concerns that ITV’s new landmark history series Britain’s Secret Treasures will encourage a damaging “gold rush” for valuable objects.[...]  Roy Friendship-Taylor, a council member of Rescue - known as the British Archaeological Trust - and chairman of the Roman Finds Group said the series sounded “worthy”, but warned the ITV and the British Museum must “play down the treasure element”.[...] An ITV spokesman said: “The series will of course refer responsibly throughout to the best practice methods to be used by amateur archaeologists, as advised by the British Museum, and willfully [willingly? PMB] explain all aspects of the Treasure Act.
Hmm. Once again we get the media referring to people who hunt artefacts to collect "amateur archaeologists". This is of course the influence of the PAS at work here.  Of course there is a good deal more in archaeological best practice than "knowing the Treasure Act".
“The endorsement of the series by the Council of British Archaeology, and promotional hook up around their national event, the Festival of British Archaeology, which will run at the same time as the series transmission, will provide a proper outlet for people interested in knowing more about how to seek treasures, as well as corroborating material on how to do so responsibly. 
Really? The responsible thing to do on an archaeological site is not to "seek treasures" there. Is that the message this programme will be projecting? If so, good, if not - disaster.

Does emphasising responsibility and restraint make good commercial TV, or does playing up the Treasure aspects make good commercial TV? 


Paul Zoetbrood said...

Hi Paul,

Know you're interested in metal detecting statistics.
Here are some from the press about a gold ring.
Upto 2500 holes a year !?


paul zoetbrood

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Finding Roman gold ring in Riccall field was ‘pure luck’
9:29am Monday 9th April 2012 in News By Dan Bean ,
The ring found by Peter Spencer in Riccall
A GOLD ring which was found in a field near Selby dates back almost 2,000 years has been officially declared as treasure.
An inquest in Selby declared the ring, which is made of solid gold with a blue nicolo glass setting, engraved with a representation of Apollo, weighs more than 15 grams and probably dates back to the Roman period between AD50 and AD250.
The ring was found by Peter Spencer, from North Leeds, during a dig in a field in Riccall on November 6, 2010, and the British Museum has already declared an interest in acquiring it.
Mr Spencer, who has recently retired, has been metal detecting for about 16 years, and although he has been on previous successful digs, this was probably the most significant find of his time with the West Riding Detector Group.
He said: “It’s the first gold item I’ve ever found. I worked out each year I probably dug 2,250 to 2,500 holes, so probably about 35,000 before I found anything gold. Some people find it relatively easy to find nice things, but I obviously found it more difficult.”

Mr Spencer was one of the finders of 178 Norman coins in 2010, known as the Knaresborough Hoard, and also found a silver Roman ring in Dunnington in 2008, but his golden find almost never happened.
He said: “There were about 20 detectors in that field on that day, there must have been 50 or 60 acres, from 9am to 3pm and the only thing anyone had found during the whole day was a really worn, small Roman bronze coin, so there wasn’t really anything much on that site.”
At 3pm Mr Spencer made his way back to his car, and while the people he was travelling with were chatting the vehicle next to him moved off, so he decided to scan the spot – and that’s when he heard a bleep.
He said: “I heard a bleep and dug up a clump of earth, then saw a little shine. I took it out of the clump of soil and it was a gold ring.
“It was on a site that produced nothing else. I like to think someone in the second century had walked or galloped across the area and lost it.”

Paul Zoetbrood said...

Hi Paul,

And a second 'responsible' partner:

455 Roman coins dug up in field near Kellington
8:36am Tuesday 10th April 2012 in News
AN “UNBELIEVABLE” haul of hundreds of Roman coins, discovered in a North Yorkshire village, have been officially classed as treasure.
The haul of 455 coins, which date back to the fourth century, were found in a village near Kellington by a metal detector enthusiast from the local area, over the August Bank Holiday last year.
An inquest was held at Selby Magistrates’ Court to determine whether the find was treasure, and the finder, Stephen Hutchinson, gave evidence to the coroner, Rob Turnbull.

Mr Hutchinson said: “I’ve only been metal detecting for just over 12 months, and I went out as often as possible. I found the usual old pins and things like that, but this is the most significant thing I’ll ever find.
“I worked through one field and didn’t have much success, and my batteries went flat. So I decided to search in another field with new batteries and discovered the initial 28 coins. They were all on the surface and down to about 12 inches, but then I hit rock.”
Mr Hutchinson said that once he “discovered the magnitude of the find”, he phoned a fellow metal detector friend to come and help him.
He said: “We searched probably about 50 metres square, but all the coins themselves were within about five square metres. Judging by the condition of them, they had probably only recently been turned over by the plough. It was unbelievable.”
Mr Hutchinson and his friend, Brendan Griffin, worked on the site on and off for the following two weeks, and eventually unearthed 455 coins, which have been confirmed as dating from between 354 AD and 445AD.
Mr Turnbull classed the find as treasure. He said the items were currently being valued and interest had already been shown in the collection by the British Museum.

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