Friday, October 31, 2008

The Newport Pagnell Coin Hoard: Further Thoughts

Earlier this week I commented on the decision by the Milton Keynes Coroner relating to the discovery of a fourth century CE Roman coin hoard found in a field near Newport Pagnell. The two finders of the hoard, Dave Phillips and Barrie Plasom, should be commended for reporting their discovery.

My concern is that digging a 1 metre deep hole on a December evening ("it was pitch black and we couldn't see a thing") is not the best way to recover scientific information. Do the fragments of pottery relate to a pot that contained the coins? Why is it "believed [that] the hoard was deposited on a Roman rubbish pit"? More information is needed (and has been requested).

Nathan Elkins has written a response to the news story placing the discovery of Roman coin hoards in context ("The controversial 'excavation' of a coin hoard"). He closes his thoughtful piece with this:
There is a difference from picking up decontextualized surface finds and disturbing contexts deep in the earth.

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