Monday, 16 September 2019

Important Site near Wem Trashed, Artefact Hoikers Praised by FLO for "Helping to Unearth Part of Britain's History"

A fifth-century hacksilver hoard has been dug up near Wem in Shropshire  (Sue Austin, One of rarest Dark Ages finds - the Wem hoard - is declared treasure Sep 4, 2019). The so-called Wem hoard was discovered by three metal detectorists  last October. It was found on commercial ("charity") rally held by the newly formed Cornovii Discoverers Metal Detecting Club. The 200 broken fragments included siliquae coins and a halved, well-worn 1st century denarius, a brooch.There were also pieces of melted down silver ingots.
The organiser of the charity metal detecting rally, Mr John Parry, said the find was the culmination of six years of believing that there was treasure to be found on the land. Steve Lord from north Wales and Steve King who lives near Chester, had been on car park duty at the Whitchurch Lions charity dig on a farmer's fields near Wem, last October and decided to walk half an hour across the the furthest corner of land away from the hundreds of other metal detectorists who were at the rally from across the country. "We had been talking about the one thing neither of us had ever found was a Roman silver coin," Mr King said. "We started detecting and I saw Steve bend down and pick something up and he said 'you will never guess what I have just found'. It was a silver coin." Having taken the frequency of the coin, Mr King then continued and within seconds found the same frequency and other coin. A third enthusiast, Andy Bijskerbosh, from Blackpool joined them. "The beeping and finds brought us closer and closer together until we were standing over a small patch of earth," Mr King said.
At which point, one of them recalled what the Code of Practice for the Treasure Act (p. 20, point 33) says and the Code of Best Practice for Responsible Artefact Hunting (section 2 point 2) says and ... oh. No, nobody paid any attention to those two documents, you see it's apparently affiliated to the NCMD, and therefore "NCMD Code of Conduct [...] rules apply" (shut the gates). A recent rally cost ten quid a head, and there were greasy burgers and toilet tent facilities available in parking area. So, on realising there was a bigger concentration of metal at that point... instead of acting responsibly and leaving it to be dealt with properly, Steve, Steve and Andy decided to carry on. 
 "We put a probe in and the signals went off the scale so we dug down about a foot and a half. [45 cm PMB]. Eventually I put my hand down into the soil - and brought up a huge pile of silver and coins, with the brooch sitting right on the top. It was incredible." Mr Lloyd said: "It was at that point we rang John Parry and said that he had better walk over to us and look at what we had found." The trio, together with Mr Parry then started the process of contacting the finds office and laying out the coins where they had been found.
Mr Parry said  "I am so glad that it was such an important find and that we had responsible metal detectorists who did the right thing and reported the find.". Well, the right and ethical thing would have been to STOP digging, so that the nature of the deposit could have been properly documented. anyhow, it gets even more Bonkers-Britain archaeoridiculous:
So important was the find that archaeologists returned to the area last week and unearthed further silver remnants. The site of the find is being kept secret [...].Once the crop on the field was harvested last month archaeologists returned to the land last week for a dig at the site of the find. More fragments of hacked silver were found and are now being sent to the British Museum.
So, what August 2019 - ten months later? What crop would that be then? What archaeological context was revealed by this 'dig'? What site context and what landscape context? Anyway, the FLO seems quite happy to be able to fondle and display this stuff, irrespective of the lost context:
Speaking at the treasure inquest, the county's finds officer, Mr Peter Reavill, praised the men for helping to unearth part of Britain's history. "This is a hugely important discovery from the Dark Ages," he said. [...] Mr Reavill explained that when the Roman left Britain they took with them their coinage monetary system the people that were left in the UK could no longer use coins and so instead cut or hacked up silver, whether coins, jewellery, cups or rivets from boxes to used as weighed bullion.
When "the Romans left Britain" is Ladybird Book history, isn't it? Did they take their cows, pigs and  chickens with them? Probably Dr Reavill knows that in the first quarter of the fifth century, "the Romans" had not "left" Gaul, but the monetary system there underwent the same changes as the adjacent province of Britain (NOT "the UK!") under the  Valentinians and Theodosians and then reverted to a gold standard with silver - including in the form of hacksilver. Come on PAS, more information for the public, less of the asinine and retro-historical dumbdown. Please, otherwise what is the point of informing the public at all?

And did Dr Reavill the FLO read the riot act to Steve, Steve and Andy, or read out the two Codes of Practice at the inquest, and was that before or after "praising them" for ignoring them both?

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