Saturday 21 May 2022

UK Cosplay Detectorist: Indy Made Me Do It.

            Cosplay shots supplied by
             Mr Ridgeway to BBC

After some two decades of artefact hunting, a butcher from Ashbocking in Suffolk has found a 1st century AD hoard with the latest coin being an aureus (?) of Claudius* near his home (Anon,'Indiana Jones fan's Suffolk treasure find 'largest' Claudius reign hoard' BBC East 21 May 2022): 
Lifelong fan of fictional film archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones, George Ridgway, 31, found 748 Roman and Iron Age gold and silver coins near Ipswich in 2019. He said he was "stunned" by the find [...] "awesome and amazing", but stressed he did this for "the love of history-hunting" rather than for monetary gain.
The article describes his fascination with Harrison Ford's film character, Indiana Jones as an "obsession",
"as a child he dressed as "Indy", and on many occasions, still does, sporting the fedora hat and the occasional whip [...] He said his childhood dream of being a real-life Indiana Jones seemed to be coming true. "I wanted to be like him - something resonated with me from a very early age - locating mystic relics - he's such an iconic figure ".
The article explains that the hoard was found by targeting a site with "an unusual crop marking in a Suffolk field [that he found] while tracing Roman roads on Google Earth". So, not a random find.
"After about two hours, I had found 180 coins - I was stunned, really." He went on to find parts of a broken pot and further coins, which he believes had been buried together as one stash. "My dad slept at the site for the first two nights to protect it," Mr Ridgway said. It took about three months, working with archaeologists, to uncover the rest - a total of 748 coins - although Mr Ridgway said he had found others, since.
So, that recovery was not done very thoroughly then. What else did the hapless archaeologists not record? 
"Further finds at the Suffolk site have led Mr Ridgway to believe there is evidence of a previously unknown Roman settlement, which he hopes to explore further with county archaeologists",
 what does this hide? That archaeologists will be out there documenting what he disturbs as he scoops the collectables into his finds pouch and carrying out an intensive gridded fieldwalking survey of this field and adjacent ones in conditions of good visibility with full pickup? Or does this phrase merely mean that he'll trot along to the Museum/County Archaeologist on a rainy day from time to time with a carrier bag full of selected little metal objects? There is a world of difference between the information yield from the two.

As for the location, its not actually any great achievement to "follow the Roman roads" in this region, it is Ivan Margery's (1957, "Roman Roads in Britain') Route 340: Combretovium (a site I once wrote about the cropmarks of) to Clopton Corner [there's a website here]. One wonders how much of a correlation there is between Roman road lines and metal detected sites from which lots of Roman finds came from (a potential thesis there for somebody).  Fieldwork in Ashbocking has previously revealed Roman sites (e.g., in 1950 here p. 206, here on metal-detectorists'-helpmate Suffolk Heritage Explorer)  

* Archaeological caveat, BM experts are hailing this as "the largest precious metal hoard found in Britain dating from the reign of Claudius I" but of course the coin gives only a TPQ.

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