Thursday 1 August 2019

FLO Goes, Thanks Colleagues and Reminiscences about the Collectables

"Changing the face of English and
 Welsh Archaeology one find at a time"

'Farewell', posted on PAS blog 31st July 2019 by Wendy Scott
As I end my 16 years working as an FLO, I wanted to reflect on what kept me in the job for so long! One of the things I loved most about being an FLO was handling a wide array of artefacts and continually learning about them.
Interestingly, what kept her in the job for so long was not the partnership and "engagement" with members of the public finding stuff. Oh no. They don't even get a mention, it's all about the shiny and not so shiny goodies she got to fondle and write about without going out there herself with her Sainsbury's carrier bag and other PAS-issue excavation tools.

In this text, the loose artefacts are treated in a very 1930s way, they "illustrate early Medieval and Medieval settlement shift" (oh what a surprise, eh? Settlements shifting?) and "all have added in some way to our knowledge of the past in our county and beyond". Like the kings and battles sort:
Out of all the many artefacts I have handled, the finds that stand out for me are ones that have massively changed the view of our area. Processing the Treasure case that is now known as the Bosworth Boar (‘Bozzie’ to us LEIC-A6C834) was spine tingling. A small object with great significance, pinpointing the spot Richard III fell in battle.
"Massively"? Like demonstrating that the 'Battle of Bosworth' was near the place known as.... Bosworth? Eh? A boar was the livery badge of the household of Richard III so this one could have been worn by anyone, and also picked up, carried around and dropped by anyone anywhere. Bozzie is not "evidence" of anything, it is an illustration of book-history (a "piece of the past in yer hand" and a trophy item), and it is irresponsible outreach to suggest it is something else, still more an X-marks the spot of "massive importance". That brings us back to another FLOs observation that funding "is often linked to the demonstration of societal value/impact". Local (small homeland) pride is also invoked
....have shown that our counties were quite wealthy and perhaps an important area in the early Saxon period, rather than the backwater they were previously thought.
But this is pure Kossinna:
But for me personally the highlight has been recording several Scandinavian brooches that have helped to map the extent of this culture (sic) in the area and most important of all, the Anglo-Viking coins [...] show that the area must have been home to Scandinavian populations, as these coins were not legal tender, so unlikely to be used by the natives. I will continue to develop my interest in the Scandinavians in England, as I work on the Lenborough coin hoard and explore the impact of Anglo-Danish rule for my Doctorate.
From the metal detected finds? [I suggest a test case, a material culture study of the impact of the rule of the House of Windsor in Britain from deposits of plastic waste].

What a crying shame, though that there is not a single word here about progress in those sixteen years of 'outreach' and 'engagement' in getting some 'best practice' in Collection-Driven Exploitation of the region's archaeological record. What is there to report in that fundamental task which was the whole reason the PAS was set up, not to give ex-FLOs material for their research projects. Wasn't it?

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