Skip to main content

The Newport Pagnell Coin Hoard: Update

I have had further feedback about the discovery of the Newport Pagnell coin hoard. Julian Watters of the Verulamium Museum who acted as the Finds Officer for the case has informed me:
Just to clarify, it is a hoard of 1471 mid 4th century nummi. Most of the coins were initially recovered by the two finders; I was then called the next day and came out and did an excavation, recovering some pottery and more coins in the process.
He then adds:
The detectorists dug out the coins and then filled the hole in. The excavation was entirely my work (I think it was 2m by 2m). I'm not sure which photos you are referring to but if they show a man in a square hole, they were taken the following day.

The photographs appear here.

So it seems that the detectorists dug a 1 m deep hole in the dark to recover most of the coins and that Julian Watters investigated the disturbed find-spot the following day.

The hoard is not yet on the PAS database as that will be upgraded in the new year.

Comments

BAJR said…
the photo does not seem to show a 1 m deep hole... Did Julian verify this 1 metre deep hole? or are you assuming from a newspaper article?
David Gill said…
It appears that Julian 'excavated' the hole that had been 'dug' the previous evening. So the photograph of Julian's trench does not show the depth at which the hoard was found.
BAJR said…
"It appears that Julian 'excavated' the hole that had been 'dug' the previous evening. So the photograph of Julian's trench does not show the depth at which the hoard was found."


Sorry but I don't understand

I don't see a 3ft hole at all.. or the traces of a 3ft hole pit that is filled in... I see a 2m square excavation...
Paul Barford said…
David, as you can see in the third photo in the sequence referred to, showing the very beginning of the excavation, and you can see that the crop has previously been heavily trampled in that area.

The question is though whether really the find was made by these two detectorists the "previous day" (the fill of the pit is pretty well compacted for a hole that was dug and backfilled in the dark the previous day) or whether the discovery was made earlier as seems to be suggested by my correspondence on Friday with local metal detectorists. There are some other things which simply do not "tally" in the account which the (admittedly brief) newspaper report suggests was presented to the coroner. I am intrigued.
BAJR said…
I am intrigued.

Me as well..

there seems to be lots of guesses and assumptions and everyone says they are facts.

As yet... nobody is coming up with hard facts... and that is what worries me.

Do you have anything other than the newspaper report and a guess at what the the photo shows?

Paul Barford seems to have set in stone the events, which are then quoted and agreed with as if hard facts .. but when it is looked at carefully, everyone is just guessing and assuming... not the sort of way archaeologists should work.
David Gill said…
I have read the short (2 pages of A4) report compiled by two members of the British Museum: for further details see here.
BAJR said…
sorry, but that was not the questions asked - the concept of "disturbed stratigraphy" is already a given - though the type of pot ... and the location, and other details and dating evidence are available..

I asked other questions.. s'ok though, you don't need to answer.
Julian Watters said…
I feel I should add something to this ongoing debate. To be perfectly honest, I find the whole thing completely ridiculous! The use of secondary, or even tertiary, source material as the basis for this debate is lazy journalism at best.

I would like to state that I am satisfied with the way this case has proceeded to date. My excavation of the hoard site was carried out to the highest professional archaeological standards and the strategy employed was entirely appropriate for the situation encountered. A report detailing the circumstances of the find, the excavation methodology, and the results of both my work and that of any associated specialist contributors will be published in the near future. Until then, I don’t think it is possible to have an informed debate on the subject.

Julian Watters (Herts and Beds FLO)
Julian Watters said…
I feel I should add something to this ongoing debate. To be perfectly honest, I find the whole thing completely ridiculous! The use of secondary, or even tertiary, source material as the basis for this debate is lazy journalism at best.

I would like to state that I am satisfied with the way this case has proceeded to date. My excavation of the hoard site was carried out to the highest professional archaeological standards and the strategy employed was entirely appropriate for the situation encountered. A report detailing the circumstances of the find, the excavation methodology, and the results of both my work and that of any associated specialist contributors will be published in the near future. Until then, I don’t think it is possible to have an informed debate on the subject.

Julian Watters (Herts and Beds FLO)
David Gill said…
Dear Julian

It would be helpful if you could state where your report will be published.

I have not questioned your professional standards - you were called in to investigate a reported 1 metre deep (back-filled) hole from which a hoard of Roman coins had been extracted.

For the record I have seen the short two page report prepared by staff in the British Museum.

Best wishes

David

Popular posts from this blog

Marble bull's head from the temple of Eshmun

Excavations at the temple of Eshmun in Lebanon recovered a marble bull's head. It is now suggested that it was this head, apparently first published in 1967, that was placed on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (Tom Mashberg, "Met Museum Turns Over Another Relic With Disputed Past to Prosecutors", New York Times August 1, 2017 ). The head is reported to have been handed over to the Manhattan district attorney after a request was received from the Lebanese authorities.

It is suggested that the head may have been looted from an archaeological storage area at Byblos in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war. Mashberg has rehearsed the recent collecting history:
The owners of the bull’s head, Lynda and William Beierwaltes of Colorado, say they have clear title to the item and have sued Manhattan prosecutors for its return.  The Beierwaltes bought the head from a dealer in London in 1996 for more than $1 million and then sold it to another collector, Michael …

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

One of the Sardinian bronzes of a warrior was seized from an as yet unnamed Manahattan gallery. It appears to be the one that passed through the Royal-Athena Gallery: Art of the Ancient World 23 (2012) no. 71. The collecting history for that warrior suggests that it was acquired in 1990 from a private collection in Geneva.

Other clues suggested that the warrior has resided in a New York private collection.

The identity of the private collection in Geneva will no doubt be telling.

The warrior also features in this news story: Jennifer Peltz, "Looted statues, pottery returned to Italy after probe in NYC", ABC News May 25 2017.

Attic amphora handed back to Italians

The research of Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has led to the return of an Attic red-figured amphora, attributed to the Harrow painter, to Italy (Tom Mashberg, "Stolen Etruscan Vessel to Be Returned to Italy", New York Times March 16, 2017).

The amphora is known to have passed through the hands of Swiss-based dealer Gianfranco Becchina in 1993, and then through a New York gallery around 2000 (although its movements between those dates are as yet undisclosed).

During the ceremony, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the District Attorney stated:
“When looters overrun historic sites, mine sacred spaces for prized relics, and peddle stolen property for top dollar, they do so with the implicit endorsement of all those who knowingly trade in stolen antiquities” More research clearly needs to be conducted on how material handled by Becchina passed into the North American market and into the hands of private and public collectors.