Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Northern Ephemera on Battlefield Diggers

The Northern Ephemera blog has a reflective text ('31ST JANUARY 2016‘) on the Battlefield Recovery fiasco, making a number of important points highlighting the difference between the hype and what the "Nazi War" diggers are filmed actually saying about what they think they are doing and some other points I'd not seen made before. He also identifies a number of issues that the diggers and production company need to clarify. He also goes into the involvement of Suzie Thomas in some detail. 
A number of questions from the archaeological community regarding recorded evidence remain unanswered. It seems fair to conclude that no logical pre excavation survey was undertaken as the series regularly depicted the presenters aimlessly searching for metal relics using metal detectors then digging holes with at times totally inappropriate equipment. Similarly there appears to have been no specific brief, with some presenters on record stating that they were looking for relics and not human remains, yet the entire premise of the series has been presented to United Kingdom television audiences as an activity to recover fallen soldiers and give them a proper burial. During excavation scenes shown during the episodes there were often disclaimers on screen stating that records were kept but yet the methodology of the excavations, on the whole, was so bad that any context was often destroyed, so what records exactly were made?
Here is a point that also occurred to me when I watched episode four: 
At one point, with daylight fading fast and heavy rain pouring down the team came across what appeared to be a pair of femurs trapped under a large rock. Rather than pause and assess how the femurs became trapped under the rock the team simply used shovels to pry the bones out from the ground. 
The issue here is that right across this northern forest zone are Iron Age to Medieval inhumation graves with various constructions of boulders. I really would like to know how, with such crude keyhole digging methods in disturbed forest soils, one can firmly date human bones sealed under a rock. When was the rock put there? What, in reality, was the stratigraphic relationship between the human remains and the metal objects unceremoniously and blindly pulled from the mud around them. Has a medieval villager been buried with military honours in a modern war cemetery?

Also I would like to raise a question about the Legenda "storeroom" shown in the episode. It looks more like a collection of trophies, doesn't it? (Look at the plate mounted on the wall swastika signature on the outside). What is going on here?

Finally he concludes with a brief reflection on the lessons professionals  can learn from all this. (What about metal detectorists?)

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