Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Responsible Artefact Hunting: "Trade Citadel Teeming with Treasures found by an Amateur Metal Detectorist"

Metal detecting finds and
'archaeological' fairytales
This is no doubt the kind of "engagement with a wider audience using material culture" that the archaeologist had in mind: Colin Fernandez 'A marvel in the marshes: Anglo-Saxon trade citadel teeming with treasures is found in the Fens (sic) by an amateur with a metal detector' Daily Mail 1st March 2016. How one can engage with the public if you cannot even explain to a journalist properly so they understand what you've found beats me.
A host of ornate silver writing instruments, coins, brooches and lead weights suggest a previously unknown monastery or trading centre may have stood near Little Carlton in Lincolnshire.[...] the 2011 discovery was kept quiet so the site could be excavated, and can only now be reported.
After they dug just nine meter and a half wide evaluation trenches in it? So why "now"? The Mail gives more details of the finds which were found other than the two listed as from the parish on the PAS database:
A further 21 styli have been found, along with 300 dress pins and around 100 silver coins from 680 to 790 AD [...] hundreds of finds from bits of jewellery, dress accessories, Anglo Saxon pins, lead weights, bits of glass from vessels, gaming counters. ‘It’s probably the largest assemblage of Anglo Saxon finds of its kind.’
But how many woolcomb teeth and iron awls were removed by the amateur metal detector user for his collection?  As for "trade citadel", see my comments in the earlier post. So working with metal detectorists not only produces lots of glomworthy earth-dug artefacts, but also gives plenty of opportunities for dumbdown archaeology and getting names and pictures in newspapers.

There is in this text a curious piece of homely Little Englander narrativisation about "What Little Carlton tells us about life in the Dark Ages" which is an eye opener. Let's pass over that piece of dumbdown in embarrassed silence, except to note that in this case the public is not here getting a good deal for its eighteen million quid thrown at 'partnership;' with collection-driven exploitation of archaeological sites.

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