“Of all the treasures found in the ground, fewer than 5% are discovered by professional archaeologists. More than 90% are unearthed by amateur treasure hunters armed with metal detectors – devices originally devised for hunting down landmines,” wrote Laurence Cawley, on the BBC News website in 2016.
‘Porky pies’ come in all shapes and sizes though Lawrence Cawley’s piece ain’t one of ‘em.
Why this discrepancy between the ‘pros’ and the so-called amateurs one wonders? We are constantly bombarded with ‘facts’ and ‘figures’ from the po-faced anti-detecting lobby that Detectorists/treasure hunters don’t possess the recovery skills of archaeologists and that archaeology is ‘scientific’ (yeah, right!). Yet, with their unfettered access to artefact-rich prime sites, few artefacts ever seem to make it to the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s database. WHY?
Is it because archaeology is not the ‘scientific’ painstaking search technique they’d have us all believe, or perhaps the dearth of reported treasure trove-quality artefacts is due to on-site theft by ‘Dayhawkers’ in the excavation teams? Or maybe, are there really thousands of artefacts out there languishing unreported in archaeological storerooms in a scandal as was recently exposed. Neither should we do a Nelson to the possibility of deals struck in smoke-filled rooms between excavators and the authorities (in contravention of the ’96 Act) to the effect that, “You scratch my back and I’ll make sure you don’t get bogged down with red tape.”
But what about the thousands of ‘high-value’ flint tools and arrowheads lifted from the archaeological record by woolly-hatted ‘amateurs’ on their week-end, field-rifling trips? Indeed, what about farmers’ and landowners’ property rights who are losing out financially because these flint-fondlers can’t be bothered to have a finds agreement. Few flint tools rarely if ever seem to be recorded on the PAS database. WHY?
Archaeological excavators are not immune from the 1996 Treasure Act either.
Section 8 of the Act (Coroners’ jurisdiction) states: –
Duty of finder to notify coroner.
(1) A person who finds an object which he believes or has reasonable grounds for believing is treasure must notify the coroner for the district in which the object was found before the end of the notice period.
(2) The notice period is fourteen days beginning with—
(a) the day after the find; or
(b)if later, the day on which the finder first believes or has reason to believe the object is treasure.
(3) Any person who fails to comply with subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to—
(a) imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months;
(b) a fine of an amount not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale; or
(4) In proceedings for an offence under this section, it is a defence for the defendant to show that he had, and has continued to have, a reasonable excuse for failing to notify the coroner.
(5) If the office of coroner for a district is vacant, the person acting as coroner for that district is the coroner for the purposes of subsection (1).
As regards finds by Tekkies, the Portable Antiquities Scheme website (http://finds.org.uk) this to say:-
The Treasure Act (1996) marks its twentieth anniversary this year, having come into law in 1997. The Act was created in order to make it easier for national or local museums to acquire important finds for public benefit. Of the 14,000 Treasure finds over the past 20 years, 40% are now in museum collections which can be enjoyed by local communities and the wider public. These include some of the most well-known archaeological objects in the country, such as the Staffordshire Hoard, a spectacular hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver war gear which has been displayed across the UK and in the USA, and the Frome Hoard, the largest collection of Roman coins in one vessel ever found in Britain.
Over the past 20 years, Treasure and PAS finds have significantly added to our knowledge of the past. For instance, they have offered us a greater insight into ancient trade networks between England and Continental Europe during the Bronze Age, and have also provided the means for us to fundamentally reassess the nature of early medieval trade. Over 1.3 million (1,312,332) PAS finds have been recorded, from prehistoric stone implements to post-medieval buckles, and all are available online for free at finds.org.uk/database. To date over 600 research projects, including 126 PhDs, have made major use of PAS data.
Chesney…treasure hunting dog : –
He knows the difference between ’77’ (£1-00 coin) and a Celtic Stater.
Obviously lost on the dimwits…Propaganda is a soft weapon; hold it in your hands too long, and it will move about like a snake, and strike the other way. ….. Jean Anouilh
A HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR TO TEKKIES EVERYWHERE