Wednesday 28 April 2021

Value of a Discovery

Here is some discussion of the Ampleforth 'hoard' and it going to auction:

Treasure Hunting Magazine 5 d
Wishing James and Mark all the very best for the forthcoming auction and also to express great thanks to them both for firstly sharing their experiences and these stunning finds with Treasure Hunting magazine. These wonderful artistic 'treasures' have provided a direct connection between the modern day finders and the person who originally buried them - something that metal detecting is very good at achieving. From a remote rural site one ponders would they have ever been found otherwise? Who knows? But what is certain is that metal detecting has brought them to us today - Whatever their ancient votive reasons for burial their recent unearthing makes them fantastic offerings to us all in the modern age. What marvellous experiences and memories James and Mark have - with yet more to come [...] the main focus should always be what the finders have actually given - and that is a fantastic discovery which has permanently enriched our awareness of Roman Britain - money cannot buy that - and rest assured academic study of this discovery will go on for years benefitting us all - like many things in life that we want we have to buy them - and should a private collector or hopefully a museum wish these wondrous things for their collections then in most cases like the rest of us their hands are going to have to head downwards into their pockets - best Jules 

 First of all, what do we know about the context? Why is it "votive"? And why was it buried by "one person"? "Metal detecting" has not achieved anything except find four loose objects at more or less the same spot. The finders, out during lockdown, have not "given" us that context. 

As for money can't buy that... I'd like to see a grant application to any major funding entity that postulates that for a mere £100,000 a two-man team will search a productive Roman site until they find four nice things, they won't make any notes on contexts and associations, they won't do any geophys, they'll just hand in four things from a field, won't really be able to say "which field" or "which part" for then dire things will happen. Is that a grant application that would be seen as good value for money by the funders? You see, put in those terms, this discovery is not worth 100 grand as a research project. That's what the loose items are worth on the antiquities market. The two should not be confused. 

And why has not 24 years of PAS outreach got that message across to even the tekkies that have double-barrelled 'posh' names? 

Vignette: Metal detectorist with small head and mental health.


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