Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The amazing archaeological hoard

I see that the Lenborough Hoard features prominently in the press release for the launch of the Treasure Annual Report 2012 [press release, "Largest Anglo-Saxon coin hoard tops list of latest nationwide treasure finds". 10 February 2015].
... the largest Anglo Saxon coin hoard found since the Treasure Act began is announced. This amazing archaeological hoard of around 5,200 coins was discovered in the village of Lenborough, Buckinghamshire. This discovery highlights the ongoing importance of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure Act in ensuring that the most important finds are secured for the nation.
Neil MacGregor also comments on the hoard:
More Treasure finds are being reported than ever before and unique objects are documented and conserved for study and public display, such as the recent find of the largest Anglo-Saxon coin hoard recorded since the Treasure Act of 1996. These achievements are a testament to the network of Finds Liaison Officers, who play a key role in ensuring archaeological finds found by the public are properly reported and recorded.

Is the Lenborough Hoard the best example to use of how FLOs are deployed in the field? Could some of the issues that arose have been anticipated by the FLO? Are archaeologists just interested in recording objects and creating databases? What about the careful excavation of coin hoards that we have seen elsewhere?

The finder Paul Coleman is also quoted in the press release:
'When I saw the first few coins I was really excited because I knew I had found a hoard, however the excitement grew and grew as the size and importance of the find became apparent. Ros Tyrrell, the FLO who was in charge of the excavation, was spot on when she said "now I know a little of what Egyptologist Howard Carter must have felt, when he first looked into the tomb of Tutankhamen."'
What is meant by 'excavation' here? Did Carter scoop up the Tutankhamun finds into a handy F&M pannier? (No doubt an informed reader of LM will have studied the packing materials of the excavation.)

Coleman has indicated that he is willing to turn down the reward ("Jobless man set to miss out on £1 million hoard reward", Buckingham Today 10 February 2015).
Mr Vaizey said: “I’d especially like to thank the finders and landowners who have graciously waived their right to a reward so that local museums can acquire treasure. 
“It is an initiative that the government has been keen to support and it demonstrates that metal detectorists have a genuine interest in the past, and are not just interested in archaeology for personal gain.” 
The coins are being showcased at the British Museum this morning with curator, Gareth Williams, discussing his research into the hoard but the eventual resting place of the coins is yet to be decided.
It is pity that the apparent rushed removal of the coins will have meant that valuable contextual knowledge was lost.

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