Fantastic Roman Hoard Find.

A budding archaeologist in the making.

On arriving home from work late on Sunday night I did what I usually do and log onto my favourite metal detecting forum to read all about the days finds. I always think Sundays are the most popular detecting days where most detectorists are able to get out swinging and there is always an array of great finds to drool over. Well, this past Sunday was no exception, plenty of great finds made by many, but there was one find that really stood out, a Roman Hoard.  A detectorists dream find of a large Roman Urn filled with Roman coins. What a find.

After reading about this hoard find I knew it wouldn't stay up on the forum for very long because once the archaeo-bloggers got wind of it they would  play the usual  'The despoiling of Britain's archaeological record' and 'The destruction of context' cards. I was right, first thing in the morning the post on the forum was gone and a anti-metal detecting blog near you was ripping the story to shreds. How they can call it the destruction of our heritage is beyond me, this find has added to our heritage. If these detectorists never found this hoard it would still be buried in the ground oblivious to all.

Here's a point, what if the farmer decided to do a deep plough and hit the Urn scattering its contents all over the field. Would the archaeo-bloggers scream and stamp their feet then. After all the urn would be destroyed and any 'context' surrounding the Urn would be obliterated. At least the detectorists here who found this hoard kept everything intact, now if the archaeologists want they can go in and examine the pit with their tiny cake slicers.

That aside and getting back to the hoard find which was found on a club dig, the way the story was told and the great photos that were shown made me think that the finders ought to be congratulated. In my eyes they did everything the right way that most most of us would have done. They carefully excavated the Urn taking great care not to damage it and took some amazing photos of the procedure. The FLO was informed so the find was recorded and another piece of our heritage recorded for future generations.

Well done lads, a great find and something most of us only dream about.... even archaeologists.


  1. I didnt get the chance to see the find on the metal detecting forum, so I cant really comment too much. Whilst I do agree its a great find and well done to the finders for that. I cant imagine too many archaeologists being over the moon with the "excavation". The pot containing the coins may well have been removed complete, but any other information regarding why, how and when its was buried is sadly lost.
    I think deep down inside you know this was not excavated with any degree of profesionalism, which is why you were not too surprised when the article was taken off the forum, this probably suggest that the people running the forum knew this as well. I'm no fan of certain archaeological bloggers, but if we do keep giving him the amunition then what can we expect?
    As for the farmer deep ploughing and destroying the evidence. The fact is he didnt and the evidnce was there to be recorded etc. As it stands It may as well have been deep ploughed now. There really would be little point in archaeologists trying to gain information from what was left as the area excavated around the pot was way way too small, judging by the photo there is back fill in an around the spade already so any context is now lost.
    I am aware as someone who has never found a hoard its easy for me to sit here and say "oh they should have done this, or not done that." The guide lines are there for a reason mate, and as much as it kills me to say it they were not followed on this occasion.

    Dont mean to moan Janner, but this really was a great find that the finder managed to turn into a disaster.


  2. I agree with Jordan. It's not about the fact it was found its just that any clues as to how it got into the ground etc has been lost due to the rush in getting it out the ground. Personally the history of an object is far more than the physical object itself. Was the pot just buried in the ground or was it buried as part of an offering along with I dunno some animal bones or something non metal in a new way that no one has ever seen before. By just whipping the pot out we will never know and it becomes just another pot of coins. Interesting yes, but it could have been so much more

  3. Yup, good valid points. You know what you would have done, and I know what I would have done. But at the end of the day these people have not broke any laws, all they did was break a code of ethics, which is all down to personal choice. They chose on that day to dig it right out, they were experienced enough to know the importance of this find by the way they carefully extracted it. I bet too that they were checking the soil around the pot. Just look at that photo, all nice and neatly done.

    Imagine yourself walking around a museum looking at all the interesting finds, all behind glass. Lots of 'DO NOT TOUCH' signs everywhere. I bet your instinct is you want to pick an object up, feel it, connect with it by touch. Coming across an Urn full of Roman coins is every metal detectorists dream, maybe once in a lifetime find. Can you blame them for wanting to fully savor that moment.

  4. They may not have broken any laws Janner, but as you quite rightly say, the "broke a code of ethics" what they did was "morally wrong". The Code of Ethics and various other guide lines were put in place for a number of reasons, one of which is exactly what we have here.
    They may well be experienced detectorists I cant comment on that, one thing is for certain though (judging by the photo published) they are clearly not experienced Archaeologists, they are not even inexperienced Archaeologists. They are at the end of the day just a lucky metal detectorist who had the good fortune to stumble across a pot full of Roman coins. It was exactly at that moment they chose to prove they are nothing more and leave the rest of us with exactly that, just "a pot full of Roman coins". This is not responsible metal detecting in any shape or form.
    Find me an Archaeologist or a Finds Liason Officer who will back up what they did and the way they went about it and I'll gladly say sorry.
    The metal detecting forum that this story was published on clearly has issues with this whole episode which is why it was removed from public view. There are plenty of other posts on the same forum regarding finding hoards and the susequent excavation by trained professionals ie Archaeologists, these remain on there for all to see. Why take this one off?

    I'll answer your second question later when I have a bit more time.


  5. "Imagine yourself walking around a museum looking at all the interesting finds, all behind glass. Lots of 'DO NOT TOUCH' signs everywhere. I bet your instinct is you want to pick an object up, feel it, connect with it by touch. Coming across an Urn full of Roman coins is every metal detectorists dream, maybe once in a lifetime find. Can you blame them for wanting to fully savor that moment"

    Oh god yes, there are plenty of artefacts in museums I would love to hold in my hands. Not because they are nice and shiny or worth thousands of pounds, but because I have read about them and because I/we have an understanding of what the object was and meant to someone.
    Take the pot of roman coins for example, I would imagine that most people holding it would think to themselves "who lost it? why was it buried and when was it buried?" We will never know. Yes I'm sure there are people who would just hold it and think "wow I wonder how much this is worth" but I'm not one of them. Sadly I always end up with more questions than answers.
    The Hoxne Treasure is a perfect example of what "ethically" should be done. Eric Lawes did exactly the right thing, he contacted the County Archaeologists and let them do what they have been trained to do. He still got to see the hoard come out of the ground, still got to handle the artefacts as they were being removed, still got his share of the finders reward and everyone left that field happy. These are some of the artefacts I would most like to handle, I can hold them in my hand and have 80% of my questions answered. Thanks to Eric Lawes and the work of scholars and Archaeologists.
    Archaeology has had to learn the hard way, gone are the days of Mr Shhliemann and his massive trenches obliterating vast amounts of Troy. Thanks to people like Sir Mortimer Wheeler and General Pitt Rivers the science of archaeology has changed. We also need to change or as I strongly believe, we can kiss this hobby good bye.
    There is clear evidence that metal detectorists need educating, (I include myself in that). Its simply not "ethical" to carry on the way we are, digging nothing more than a fence post hole to remove items out of their context. I would love to hear what the NCMD have to say on this matter as they are after all "our voice for the hobby", although on past experience I wont hold my breath...Just keep remembering to pay your insurance folks, you know it makes sense!


  6. Oops! I spelt Schliemann wrong....Twas nothing more than a "typo"

  7. Great posts from both of you there. I first heard/read of this 'destruction of context' term from an anti-detecting blog near you. Well, I tried to understand it but reading about it coming from a blogger that clearly hates metal detectorists, I couldn't take it seriously. How can you take something serious when half of what you read are just insults and name calling directed at us detectorists. On the one hand the author is trying to educate us and on the other hand he's slagging us off. I'm just glad he wasn't a teacher at my school,,,, hell, I'd be thicker than I am now. He's certainly not a people's person is he. I know he has read your above posts and with a bit of luck he will take a leaf out of your books and learn how it should be done, like explained clearly and in a good and decent manner. As the saying goes to get respect you have to show respect.

  8. If you happen to have a spare £25.00 in your pocket then this is a great book. You may get an earlier additions for a bit cheaper (mine is a 4th addition) It explains all the principles that we have spoken about and for me its a great read. Colin Renfrew is one of the authors and to be honest I might be slightly biased as he's a bit of a hero to me....(bit sad really)

    "Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice. Colin Renfrew & Paul Bahn. " Admit it Janner you read the authors names and for nano second only having read the first few letters of "Paul Bahn's" name you thought it was going to read Paul Barford. :D


    1. Thanks for the heads up on the book.

      ...and you can read me like a book, first thing I saw was that name, took a nano second to turn my legs to jelly which lasted an hour before they returned to normal....:D.