Tuesday 22 December 2020

Research on Galloway Hoard to Cost Additional £1m

  "Citizen archaeology" - blind hoiking, more like
 (Image facebook)
The Galloway Hoard discovered in September 2014 on an unthreatened site by a metal detectorist who had permission to search Church-owned land in Galloway has already cost the public purse millions in conservation, and in buying it off the finder who was in September last year taken to court by the landowner for his gruff refusal to split the £2m reward with them. The hoard has now been acquired by National Museums of Scotland using money raised through with major grants of public money from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund and the Scottish government, but also through more than 1,500 small donations from members of the public who were forced to buy back their own heritage from the metal  detectorist

Interestingly, that finder with a rather inflated feeling of entitlement is now not being named in some of the news reports (Caroline Davies, 'Researchers win £1m grant to unlock secrets of Viking-era treasure trove' Guardian Mon 21 Dec 2020):
Researchers in Scotland hope to unlock the secrets of a stunning Viking-age hoard after a receiving a £1m grant to examine the provenance of the 10th century haul [...] NMS will carry out a three-year project, “Unwrapping the Galloway Hoard”, in partnership with the University of Glasgow, to examine in detail the objects, due to go on display in an exhibition next year. The haul contains an unparalleled range of precious metal and jewelled items, including a rare gold ingot, a unique gold bird-shaped pin and a decorated silver-gilt vessel, the only complete lidded vessel of its type ever discovered in Britain and Ireland. Inside the vessel were beads, amulets of glass and rock crystal, a silver penannular brooch and five Anglo-Saxon disc brooches not previously found in Scotland. Parts of the find were wrapped in fragile textile bundles. Taken altogether, the hoard hints at hitherto unknown connections between people across Europe and beyond, and, according to researchers, it provides a rare opportunity to research and reveal many lost aspects of the Viking age.
Well, I hope the research will address the question of the degree to which those "connections between people across Europe and beyond" really were all that "previously unknown", given that there is loads of literature about it in northern, central and eastern Europe about this (mostly based on hoard finds precisely like this one) going back to the 1860s. Previously unknown to many blinkered insular archaeologists off the coast of Europe, maybe. 

           Fleecing the public                
But look at the irony, the unnamed finder gets 2 million for a few hours work with a shovel and a bleeper in a muddy field, but a multi-disciplinary team of trained specialists has only half that to produce a comprehensive report on the whole assemblage. The Arts and Humanities Research Council has awarded a £791,293 grant  for the project, with the remaining cost covered by the NMS and the University of Glasgow.

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