Friday 23 April 2021

Hanson's to Sell Ampleforth Hoard

Part of a hoard context lost, objects sold (Gazette and Herald)

Jonathan Chadwick, 'Incredible Marcus Aurelius bust is among a treasure trove of 2,000-year-old Roman bronze artefacts dug up by metal detectorists in Yorkshire and tipped to sell for £100,000 at auction' Mailonline 21 Apr 2021
A bust of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius is among a collection of 2,000-year-old bronze artefacts dug up in Yorkshire – and set to sell for around £100,000. The 'fantastically preserved' 6 inch (13cm) bust of Aurelius, who ruled the Roman Empire from AD 161 to AD 180, depicts him with hair and beard flamboyantly curled. As well as the bust of Aurelius, the collection includes a statuette of the god Mars on horseback and the handle of a knife shaped as part of a horse. The items were discovered last year by metal detectorists James Spark and Mark Didlick in a field in Ryedale, North Yorkshire. Experts believe they were buried as an offering to the gods as part of a Roman religious ceremony in about AD 160 – which was the year before the start of Aurelius' reign. The stunning collection is due to be sold by Hansons Auctioneers on May 20, with a pre-sale estimate of £90,000. 'We have had worldwide interest in the hoard from both private individuals and museums,' said Adam Staples, head of historics at Hansons Auctioneers, which is based in Etwall, Derbyshire.

These objects were dug up during lockdown in May last year, in the period when the NCMD required all members to follow government  guidelines and stay at home. Many artefact hunters in the UK responsibly complied. It seems there are always some that consider the rules do not apply to them. Ampleforth, where the hoard is said to have been found on 24th and 25th May (YORYM-870B0E) is 20 miles north of York. These guys went out there on two consecutive days running (Karen Darley, Rare Roman artefacts found in Ryedale field', Gazette and Herald 25th November 2020). In May 2020 upwards of 400 people a day were dying of Covid in the UK, and these two guys went out together detecting twenty miles from home. 

A pair of history buffs have uncovered the find of a lifetime while metal detecting in Ryedale. James Spark and Mark Didlick, from York, were exploring a site in May when they came across “significant” finds. James said: “The day was a memorable one. Mark has detected the land for a few years and had the odd Roman find here and there, so there was a potential for some finds, but never in a million years did we expect to find what we did. “After a slow start we headed to a different part of the field and I came across a large target which when I dug it up I thought it was a lead toy soldier on a horse. Another target later and within a foot away I unearthed a large Roman bust and Plumb weight, and the following day Mark unearthed a horse head terminal.” He added: “These items are extremely rare and probably date to the 2nd century BC.” The finds are currently with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) for recording and documenting where they will be cleaned and added to the database.

And how, actually, did they reach the FLO (Rebecca Griffiths) in the middle of lockdown?  

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