Thursday 29 August 2019

Chew Valley Hoard Fiasco: Some More Questions

it's [now] land under plough

A northern FLO that insists that, unlike the rest of the British public - who are not allowed to know where their heritage has been ripped from - he knows where the Chew Valley Hoard was found. He says so, in a discussion on whether the finders were searching, as was reported in the first accounts of the discovery, on 'unploughed' land. Now, I think the BBC video, apparently made on 25/26th January 2019, shows the site was at that time under grazed (or mown) pasture. But the FLO assures us this is "missinformation" (sic):
Benjamin Westwood Google earth images clearly show it's land under plough
I admit my first thought on reading that was 'NGR'. But later four numbers kept going through my head: 2528, 2546, 2571 and seven months. Then a grammatical point: present simple. Present simple, the land is under the plough, but the point is was the land ploughed when the video was made? To my eyes no. Jude Plouviez denies that this is the case, she sees that video with different eyes:
Thanks Benjamin Westwood, yes I agree it was from ploughed land, never believe what you read in the Daily Mail.....
Or see on BBC videos? But note the past simple. Present simple/past simple. I wonder whether we are missing something here?

To what does the figure 2528 (BBC and most other accounts) refer? The tekkies say that the day they took the bucket in the boot of their car to the BM, they'd counted out the coins. Is 2528 the number of coins they initially deposited, written down on a piece of paper and read out to the journalist? But Gareth Williams reports he'd seen (at least) 2546. So, did someone count wrongly? Or are we seeing a reflection of something else? And the FLO's present simple actually means something that we should know about the collection history of this group of objects?

Imagine it, you are two people involved in the antiquities trade, you work for Hansons, you know how much just one coin of Harold II is worth, you know how much just one coin of William I in good nick is worth. Then you find a hoard of them, but they are under grass, hellishly difficult to dig, the fine stonefree soil is a bit claggy. It starts raining, piddling down. Thunder. You are wet through, but still you keep searching and digging. In January it gets dark early, you keep searching and digging, and digging. 'It's mayhem' you later say. In the end, you call it a day and go home with the claggy coins in a bucket, which you later deliver to the Museum (Mr Staples said of the dig: "We didn't leave the site until we thought we'd got all the coins...). But how can you be sure, digging hastily (why?) in those conditions?

But, even though the coins are in the BM, there is not a public announcement that summat's bin found. Oh no. Because then "the nighthawks" will be there - the story goes. But if the five finders thought they'd got all of the hoard (which is what they now say), the the nighthawks will just find empty mud-filled holes in that field, won't they? It takes seven months for the finders and the BM to admit what they've got. Why, what changed?

Imagine it, what would you do? I suspect a lot of us at the earliest opportunity would take a few days off work to get back down there and check that every single coin had been gathered. I think most people would go there several times, tell the landowner about latest progress in the BM, cleaning those muddy coins, what's there, how much it's going to be worth... the farmer jumps for joy too. And from time to time, there'd be a trip to the BM with a few coins that had been fond after the main batch. Hence the changed numbers. That would seem to be a logical explanation, would it not?

But all that digging. In the grass. Now, if at the end of January, we see a field under grass, it means there was no winter crop there. Later on in the year, its still going to be grass. Longer grass, more matted grass. Difficult-to-get-yer-coil-to-the-soil grass and troublesome-to-get-your-spade-in grass. Yeah? Are you with me?

One way to make the search easier, and be sure its easy to dig would be simply to plough it. This is what many tekkies ask farmers to do before they organise a commercial rally on a farm that is 'difficult'. The ploughing brings more deeply-buried artefacts up to the surface and makes hoiking and pocketing them easier. There are many references on the forums about this being common practice,. But of course it can completely trash the upper part of the archaeological deposits just below the part previously plough-disturbed. OK, the FLO says that the Chew Valley Hoard paddock is NOW 'land under plough'. Was it in January 2010, and on which Google Earth time slices is it also shown as ploughed land? Could the FLO answer that question honestly? Or just tell the public where this place is so we can judge for ourselves. How much additional damage was done to the archaeology of the site between January 2019 and now and by whom?


Hougenai said...

Is it me being suspicious or is there something odd about travelling so far to show 'friends' how to use a detector? Why wouldn't you just salt your garden with a few objects? it'd save on travel. So what else is going on? Why did they target this particular patch?
The 'friends' remain unnamed even though there are claims that they are in for a share of the reward.
Was there something more going on that is being glossed over? Guided detecting holidays or flogging detectors as a black business. I know, how could I suggest such a thing when detectorists are so well known for being outstandingly honest . . . . .

Unknown said...

I am one of the finders , it was ploughed and in stubble at the time of finding .thanks

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.