Monday 22 December 2014

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: When and where WAS that Spinks Anglo-Frisian coin found?

A metal detectorist (without supplying a link) takes exception to "Barford" discussing the discrepancies between three accounts of the finding of a gold coin not long ago. "It's a sad old life when all one can do is troll through detecting forums looking for discrepancies in dates. It was found and reported to the PAS in August, and as far as I can make out, legally found, and properly recorded. Great find!". No doubt he'd prefer problems like this to be ignored and passed over in silence by all archaeologists and other users of the database, instead of just the majority of them. It is not an issue of trolling (the detectorist of course means "trawling"). Information is provided by the PAS not for the salving of detectorists troubled consciences, but to be used. Information which is inaccurate, invented or unreliable cannot be used for anything. Indeed is damaging for it intersperses information provided by honest finders with false facts which basically undermine the whole PAS project. As such, this issue requires careful consideration.  It is a sad old life when, given the opportunity to do the right thing at huge public expense some collectors cannot manage to get their facts right and muddle the record. Here is my reply:
 I think you will find that what concerns Mr Barford is whether the truth is being told about where the thing comes from. What gives UK metal detecting any legitimacy it has is when it is done responsibly, which means transparent and honest reporting so the find and details about it can become part of the record. Here we find a find being announced on a forum (see my post for the link) as "found today" during an organized event when the record both in the PAS database and on the dealer's website show that it had been found a full month earlier. Since the object cannot have been found on the organized event before it took place, someone here is not reporting true information - which casts doubt on the reliability of it all.  Which is not "proper recording". Why announce it as "found today" when it was not? Did the PAS vet and confirm the reported details of the finding? How?

A person has forked out 36000 quid for a coin believing (because it is included in the PAS database) it was legally found and responsibly reported when there in fact remain unexplained discrepancies in the accounts of its finding. Do not unexplained events like this, taken with other cases cast serious doubt on the model of legitimisation of metal detecting through responsible behaviour? In a word, yes. Metal detectorists may disagree, but there are serious questions to be discussed and continually attempting to shout down those who ask them will achieve nothing except alienate so-called 'responsible detectorists' by showing that they in fact do not intend taking any responsibility at all for the way their hobby is conducted, they want to turn their backs on these issues and hope the problems go away. They will not.
Meanwhile back on the original thread (which still says "found today": Re: My bro's Saxon gold he found today (auction update page), we find an alert to the existence of a problem with the failure to correlate different accounts (member "Allectus"  Fri Dec 19, 2014 8:48 pm): 
As sure as 'eggs is eggs' Tomo, he's (Warsaw W****R) picking holes in your story already! :))  A ;)
And as sure as eggs is eggs, the problem is dismissed by the very same "Tomo" who'd reported witnessing its finding "today" a full month after the PAS record and information passed on to the dealer indicate it had actually been found (Sat Dec 20, 2014 10:46 am)
I only read stuff that's worth reading A lol. If the wizard can bring a heart for the tin man then there's hope yet ;) G    
I doubt though that any "wizard" will be getting him and his brother out of the quandary they are in over when it was that they found that coin and therefore if it actually was a find at the September 7th 'dig'. I guess they just want to try and ignore the issue and hope it will go away.

Vignette: The tin woodcutter was in need of a heart, the scarecrow is the one using a metal detector. 

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