Wednesday 7 October 2015

Cost-Cutting Ersatz Archaeology in Buckingham

BM profile picture of  Ros
, carrier bag recycler
(© MMIII - MMXV CC-BY The British Museum),
Trying further to laugh off as unimportant criticism of the manner in which the Portable Antiquities Scheme botched the recovery of the important Lenborough hoard from undisturbed stratigraphy under preserved earthworks, flippant metal detectorist John Winter suggests:
It isn’t a well-known fact – yet. But if Paul [Coleman] had found the hoard today it would have cost a little more to rescue! Why? From 5th October a 5p charge was introduced for plastic bags from English supermarkets! Methinks it’s time for Ros [Tyrrell FLO] to go ‘green’ and invest in re-usable bags! Can’t wait to see what [Paul Barford] will make of that vital piece of information.
Over here in more civilised Europe, we've been paying for and recycling supermarket bags for years. What I make of this lowbrow remark is that "best practice" and "responsible detecting" are slogans the artefact hunters and exploitive takers of Britain all mouth when it secures access to the archaeological heritage from which to fill their pockets. They are however totally abstract concepts to detectorists like Mr Winter's readership. If Paul Coleman and his mates had not been artefact hunting on an known pasture suite with preserved earthworks, not only would that site be a good deal better preserved than it is now after they've been digging holes all over it, but there would be no need for any costs to be incurred for mitigating their intrusion into its stratigraphy by any kind of emergency archaeological investigation and documentation. The fact though that an otherwise unthreatened site was deliberately disturbed means that resources should have been available to deal with any situation that should arise. If no resources were available (from the landowner, club, museum, whatever) then a known site should not have been targeted in this exploitive way by the group, unprepared for this eventuality. That is what is known as responsible detecting and best practice.

It is this that apologists for the hobby need to be explaining, not flippantly remarking that the wholly inadequate cost-cutting ersatz methods adopted as the response of modern British archaeology "would have cost 5p more if it were to happen this year instead of last".

The finder's first report  (2nd Jan 2015) was that when he first saw the hoard he saw "row upon row of coins stacked neatly". Despite this, the hoard was apparently not dissected with groups of coins bagged individually or in groups to represent their position in the deposit which would be the standard method of dealing with such a discovery. Instead the whole lot was scooped out loose and dumped en masse into large polybags which were then loaded into a Sainsbury's bag.
Tipped out loose.
This was then tipped out onto newspapers in the farm for counting and rebagging.

This is no way to treat archaeological evidence, as was pointed out by RESCUE and others at the time. The archaeologist responsible for the decision to remove them from the ground despite a total lack of resources to deal with such a task properly has refused to comment. The only internal comments revealed by an FOI request from the "outreach" organization for which she still works was "you done well" ('PACHI PAS FOI: the PAS Forum, Lenborough and Fantasy Trolling by Nameless Varsovians' PACHI Thursday, 26 February 2015).

So metal detectorists have decided to answer the critique of the organization's dealing with the issue their own immature way, by dragging it down once again to the personal level and trying to make the whole thing a puerile joke.


Anonymous said...

Mr Winter wants to know what others think. I think there are two lies here, both of which will of course have been entirely lost on his colleagues.

First, the Bucks poster says "You too can help save the hoard". Not true. It's quite secure. That's a marketing ploy that has been used in recent years on the basis that hoards should stay in the area where found. God knows why that should make any sense at all, it never used to be considered essential, but it's a good way of getting people to donate - and ultimately to prop up a scheme that gives more than their just deserts to detectorists and was conceived not to reward them but to encourage them against their previous criminality.

Second, on the video, the Treasure Registrar tells the public (and the taxpayer) that PAS MAKES SURE that ALL finds are recorded. What a dreadful and damaging untruth, he should be very ashamed.

Meanwhile, Mr Winter and his tittering followers make light of it all.

Paul Barford said...

John H Said 7 October 2015 at 8:25 am

Interesting read John.

I see that PB recognises his nickname (tee hee) then rambles on to
say that where he lives (in Poland) is more civilised than Britain,
forgetting as usual, that in 1986 when Poland was a Communist puppet of
Moscow, he supported and was employed by this most vile of regimes, one
where human rights, freedom, and democracy were alien concepts and
dissidents tortured and beaten to death by the State Police. What an
idiot he is.

He’s typical of the wet lettuce, hand-wringing ‘designer
archaeologist’ genre. Indeed, he’d do well to look and learn from your
writing style, and inwardly digest. His Pravda editorial style is so

Paul Barford said...

Oh "tee hee", how mature. I would rather write like "Pravda" than be followed around by those who read it, Mr Howland.

You are of course quite sure that I was "employed by this most vile of regimes" are you? I mean we would not like to see you libelling me on Mr Winter's blog without being sure of your facts, would we? Would you like now to present your PROOF, with dates and the source of your information? I challenge you.

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