Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rider heading to the west?

"If you want to get into metal detecting to make a profit, forget it". The quotation comes from Trevor Austin, the general secretary for the UK's National Council for Metal Detecting (Mary Jordan, "In Britain, Guys With Metal Detectors Find Respect Along With History", Washington Post May 11, 2009).

Yet an anonymous ("unknown or access restricted") metal-detectorist has not done too badly from his October 2006 search near, what a press release from the UK Government Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) describes as, "a temple site" located "in Stow Cum Quy, Cambridgeshire" ("Culture Minister reins in export of statuette of horse", April 7 2009).

The find of a bronze horse and rider was recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme. The find is noteworthy and the DCMS release describes it in the following terms:
the statuette is of outstanding aesthetic importance, and of outstanding significance for the study of art, religion and society in Roman Britain.
The finder appears to have sold the piece at Bonhams on May 1 2008 (lot 273) for £10,200. And this significant bronze is due to leave the UK though there is a temporary ban on its export (which is due to be reviewed on June 6, 2009). The piece can remain in Britain if a purchaser is willing to acquire it "
at the recommended price of £22,066.81".

Think about the process. The piece has been removed from cultivated land (the PAS website records the land owner as "not defined"); there is no record of associated finds or context. The rider was subsequently recorded on the PAS database. It was then sold at public auction and the new owner hopes to export it - or, apparently, do rather well out of the deal if a new purchaser can be found.

Details on how to retain this part of England's cultural heritage can be found here.


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