Friday 12 July 2013

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Trouble at 'Rally

There has been a dispute about finds from a commercial artefact hunting rally organized at Busks Farm, near Middleham, North Yorkshire on land owned by Derek Allison (Ashley Barnard, 'Treasure dig organiser does not have a valid claim to cash from haul, The Northern Echo, Wednesday 10th July 2013). This was a 'Jim Pincher' rally (James Pincher, from Darlington, quite well-known in detecting lore). The dispute was adjudged at a Treasure inquest at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court Wednesday, July 10 by Deputy Coroner Geoff Fell.
Items found on the dig, attended by around ten people, between April 16 and 17, 2011, include a gold coin, gold pommel, copper alloy mount, iron sword and dagger, copper alloy pommel and three copper alloy hooks. Not all items were recorded with the Finds Liaison Office straight away, and there are still five silver coins missing that Mr Fell called to be returned – but said he would be handing his file to police and the Crown Prosecution Service.
The main dispute was about who was entitled to the Treasure award for these items which seem likely to be from an Anglo-Saxon grave assemblage collected away by rally members. It is reported that at the event, the landowner, on being shown the finds:
was introduced to Stephen Smith after the event as the finder of a gold coin, gold pommel, iron sword, copper alloy hook by Mr Pincher. But Mr Pincher later claimed to finds liaison officer Frances McIntosh that he found the iron sword and gold pommel on his own. Miss McIntosh told the inquest [...] “After the items had been handed in to be I found out there was a missing mount. “It was discussed that another finder had it and Mr Pincher would contact him about it.” The inquest heard the silver coins, found by an Italian tourist, were last seen in the possession of Mr Pincher – something he denies. Mr Pincher told the inquest he had unearthed the pommel and sword after Mr Smith had grown tired of digging the area. 
The Coroner at the inquest said he found Mr Pincher to be an “unreliable witness” and could see no grounds for him asserting a claim "to Mr Smith’s good fortune.
“I am recording a verdict that all items found were Treasure, either because of their worth or because their association with other items. “Whoever had the silver coins – if he does not have them he would be well advised to tell whoever does have them to send to the British Museum.”
It will be interesting to see if they turn up.

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