Wednesday 2 December 2020

UK Metal Detectorists and US Dealers


Two hundred years of excavation of Anglo-Saxon sites in England have produced less than half a dozen helmets in anything like complete form. Yet over the past few years, as many as four have been offered for sale in the US. Two of them were sold in teh past few weeks. One of the other two (the one sold in March 2016) was at some stage in the hands of a collector/seller in Wuppertal . Yet in the descriptions of none of them is mention made of any UK export licence to remove them from the country. At no stage is any mention made of any documentation confirming the seller had title (ie these were not from 'nighthawking'), nor how they were removed from the ground. Furthermore these are a number of unanswered questions about their current state. The UK has such a rich heritage that it is notable that there is not a single officer in any heritage body responsible for monitoring sales and looking out for precisely such material. If these helmets are real, England has recently lost four very important elements of the national heritage, and the national sttory, so some US collector to display as a trophy in their mancave, and when asked, will repreat the mantra: "The Saxons were fierce, bearded warriors who fought with a ruthless and unreserved attack style that intimidated many, even the Romans. Anglo-Saxon society revolved around warfare...". If four UK metal detectorists have sold these objects and smuggled them out of the UK, then they need to be totally ashamed of themselves and thrown out of the IoD  and censured by the entire metal detecting community. 

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