Thursday 15 January 2015

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: Artefact Collecting Club Owner's Five Minutes of Fame

Helen Morton ('North Warnborough's Peter Welch in demand after a member of his metal detecting club found ancient coins', Basingstoke Gazette 14 January 2015)
The founder of a metal detecting group has received global attention after a colleague found ancient coins worth more than £1m. The 5,000 silver coins were found in a Buckinghamshire field by Paul Coleman, a member of the Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club, run by North Warnborough man Peter Welch. [...] Since the find on Sunday, December 21, Mr Welch, 56, has appeared on television and radio programmes of national and international media news organisations. He told The Gazette: “I did an interview with an Australian radio station last Sunday night and the story has been on French, Nigerian and American TV. “I’ve also had Sky, the BBC and ITV at my house – I think it got the neighbours talking.”
After discussing the find with the metal detectorist who was there and a representative of the Buckinghamshire Museums Service, the reporter adds some new information to previous accounts, the hoard had reportedly been associated with organic material, and it was only after:
an archaeologist removed a leather covering that members realised the significance of the find. He added: “It was amazing. It was layer on layer of coins and they were really clean. “Normally when you find ancient coins, they become dirty but these were shiny.” A Bucks County Museum spokesman said: “This is one of the largest hoards of Anglo Saxon coins ever found in Britain. When the coins have been properly identified and dated, we may be able to guess at why such a great treasure was buried.”
Yeah, well guess is all anyone will ever be able to do, due to the whole lot being blindly hoiked out of its archaeological context . The "layer upon layer" of coins were not recorded and recovered "layer by layer",  but the loose '"shiny" objects were scooped up by the handful and dumped into a carrier bag to be tipped out onto a kitchen table. The scandal of this is that the "senior journalist" covering this has not the slightest inkling of this and that things should have been done differently. Obviously PAS outreach does not extend as far as much of the British media.

Also the Senior Journalist of the paper should have been made aware that the activities of the Weekend Wanderers on a known preserved earthwork site  at which the archaeological context of a major Early Medieval find was trashed, is not exactly receiving "worldwide acclaim", but has been roundly criticised by organizations like Rescue (though not the PAS yet, as far as anyone can see).

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