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Metal-detecting and archaeology

Displays in Lincoln © David Gill
The recent archaeological survey work at the Anglo-Saxon vicus at Rendlesham in Suffolk has reminded me of the contribution of controlled metal-detecting on archaeological sites. But the account of the discovery of this significant site is partly due to the unauthorised activity of metal-detectorists on the site.

The archaeological community needs to be reminded that there is a difference between scientifically excavated material and finds that are scooped out of the ground and literally carried away in a supermarket carrier bag. Contrast the difference between the Lenborough Hoard (and see my discussion here) and the Beau Street Hoard. I was full of praise for the excavation of the Beau Street Hoard (e.g. "It is a good reminder of the amount of information that can be gleaned from a properly excavated, conserved and studied Roman coin hoard").

As we start 2017, would it be possible for there to be a sensible discussion of how the archaeological heritage of England and Wales can be protected from unauthorised disturbance?

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