Friday, 30 October 2015

Dean Crawford — Living among the Dobunni: a story of a wasted opportunity

A pair of Anglo-Saxon saucer brooches found in topsoil that
had been removed from an archaeological site prior to
recording and spread on a local farmer's field.
photo: Dean Crawford
"One of my colleagues has spent most of his life metal detecting the fields around Bidford on Avon, Warwickshire, meticulously recording all his finds. Hundreds of his Anglo Saxon finds have greatly enhanced what we know about the area at that time and a massive amount of numismatic information has been gleaned from his coin finds.

"About twenty five years ago, archaeological excavations were carried out behind the Anglo-Saxon public house in Bidford. The archaeologists were asked by my colleague, Jim, if he could assist, if only by scanning the discarded topsoil. The answer was a defiant NO. What a wasted opportunity.

"If the archaeologists had as much knowledge of the area as Jim, they would have known that the site in question was disturbed in the nineteenth century, so a great deal of what they would had been looking for would already be unstratified and possibly nearer the surface. Yet, a deep layer of topsoil was stripped and discarded.

"By a strange coincidence, this topsoil was immediately shipped out in large trucks and dumped onto the nearby farm, where Jim actually had permission from the landowner. So he did get to scan the spoil after all.

"What he found was quite amazing; many late Roman and Anglo-Saxon finds. One has to wonder how this would have confused any future investigation on this nearby land. Or would it? perhaps the archaeologists would discard the topsoil for a second time, and dump it on a third farm? and continue on like this.

"A disturbed context, or not, there was so much knowledge and information lost by the archaeologists using this method. Yet Jim scanned the discarded soil, recorded all the Roman coins, Roman brooches, Anglo-Saxon Sceats and important brooches. The last time I spoke to Jim, he had recorded at least sixty early Anglo-Saxon coins, including many new varieties according to the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. [these would have been recorded in the Department of Coins and Medals' Corpus of Early Medieval Coin Finds]

"I only posses one photograph from back then: two large Anglo-Saxon saucer brooches that he found in the soils that were transferred from the excavation site, which would have certainly been from a grave.

"If only those archaeologists had not been influenced by their prejudices and outdated education. My message to archaeologists and people still with this mindset is to think outside the box. Don't blindly believe everything you are told; question everything; and use your own intuition. Only then can we move forward from the old ignorant ways.

John's Coydog Community page

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Dean Crawford — Living among the Dobunni: more archaeological work

Excavation at the Wyre-Piddle Bypass
photo: Dean Crawford
Before I start with today's topic, I must apologize to anyone who clicked on the link to the Throckmorton excavation report and got the wrong file. Unfortunately no excavation report appears to be online, not even at the Archaeology Data Service. In its place is now just a general overview of the site. On a more positive note, I spoke about the "more on fragmentation" post last night to my friend Robert Kokotailo of Calgary Coin Gallery, and he told me that he had been planning, this weekend, to do an article on coin metal crystallization as part of his coin reference pages. He purchased an ancient Greek silver coin which had been broken by someone who had dropped it on a hard floor exposing its crystalline interior. You cannot, of course, see such a thing by sawing a coin in half as the surfaces exposed are new and appear quite smooth. To study the interior, a coin must be broken with a hammer. Although fine quality silver is malleable, after about a thousand years it starts to recrystallize. You can see this effect often with the chips and fractures common on Anglo-Saxon coins but it does not appear on coins of the the later Medieval period onward. This means, of course, that these later coins, if left in the ground will also start to disintegrate. This effect being increased when the position of the coin changes in the ground and especially so when it gets closer to the surface through a number of agencies such as farming activity, removal and transference of top soil. or wildlife activity.

Dean's finds from different periods at the
Wyre-Piddle Bypass excavation
photo: Dean Crawford

We start with the excavation at the Wyre-Piddle Bypass site. You can see that quite a range of periods are represented here including a couple of fragments of La Tène 2 or 3 brooches (wrought, not cast). It would be most likely that these brooches were made not too far away from the site.

Romano-British enamel

photo: Dean Crawford

Next comes the 2011 Trial trenching and WB at Redhill Reservoir, Telford by Worcestershire Archaeological Service. Of the find photographs Dean sent me, I chose this example because I used to own a small disc brooch of similar design. It displays a Celtic triskele with red enamel comma-shaped voids.

Anglo-Saxon silver-gilt disk
photo: Dean Crawford

This splendid silver-gilt disk with its spiral and triquetra design from Childswickham, Worcestershire must have belonged to a very high-status visitor. It is also illustrated (figure 28) in the excavation report. Very little evidence of Anglo-Saxon presence is noted in the report.

photo: Dean Crawford

Finally,  Dean also worked on the archaeological site at Malvern, Worcestershire and he is given credit and his finds are listed in the excavation report.

John's Coydog Community page

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Dean Crawford — Living among the Dobunni: Throckmorton Airfield and the Time Team

Dean at the Throckmorton Airfield site with a Time Team vehicle.
photo: Laura Griffin, Senior Finds Archaeologist at
Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeology Service.

"The Throckmorton Airfield site, is what started it all — actually getting paid for my services. I had been detecting all round the airfield for years and knew there was something good under there — the pottery scatters and finds led me to believe it to be so. I offered my help and told them there was something big  under the airfield and they accepted. When I arrived, the machines had already stripped a big area ready for the foot and mouth burial pits. I remember one of the archaeologists jokingly say to me: "Where's this [expletive deleted] Roman site then?". Well, there was nothing coming up that day.

The Polden Hill Brooch
photo: Dean Crawford
"The next day I had a voicemail message —  'we've got all sorts going on — pits, features and lots of pottery.'  It turned out to be so interesting that even the Time Team spent 3 days there, and I was also paid for that, too. I found a large Medieval brooch along with various finds. Also, the complete Polden Hill brooch, which appeared on the program [This episode requires a sign-in and might be available only to those in the U.K.]. I was on camera for about three seconds!

"I found the Polden Hill brooch in the spoil when they machined off the "top soil". It was of little interest at the time because they had planned a theme for the show which only included the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. This was due to the geofizz [geophysical] results that were full of circles and Francis Pryor MBE FSA, was drafted in. It had all been arranged beforehand, so they concentrated on his area of expertise. Roman finds were distorting the picture that they hoped to create. Dr Jeremy Taylor was suspicious about the brooch, as it was so complete and undamaged and came from the "top soil". The truth is, as is usual, the digger bucket went a tad too deep in places. I did find a piece of a bronze razor in the spoil too, which was included in the show and digitally reconstructed."

Tomorrow, more archaeological excavations where Dean was contracted to assist.

John's Coydog Community page

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Dean Crawford — Living among the Dobunni: more on fragmentation

This blog post is an image-rich display of the damage done by modern agriculture and is a necessary addendum to the post Fragmentation because it has come to my attention that some have misinterpreted the information to the point that one person even imagined that all damage was done in ancient times. Remember, too, that these are impromptu and/or "kitchen-table experiments" and not "hard-science" laboratory experiments. After all, archaeology, itself is not a hard science either. Let us call them "an aid to common sense". It is magical thinking to suppose that a field can be ploughed over several seasons without fragmenting metal objects highly crystalized after more than a thousand years in the ground. When I was a child, I frequently saw Roman coins with active (modern) corrosion lying on the surface of ploughed fields. I never collected any of these as most of them consisted, virtually, only of corrosion products. All images are by Dean Crawford and can be enlarged to see extra detail by clicking on them.

Dean noticed that a farmer had spilled some of his fertilizer in the farmyard and he gathered some of it to perform the experiment pictured above. It represents the effect of fertilizer in the field over a longer period of time but of course does not include the impact or pressure damage done by farm machinery.

Two English Medieval gold noble fragments
Dean found these two fragments of a gold noble three years apart and over thirty yards from each other in a ploughed field. The increase in deterioration can be clearly seen. The wear on such high carat gold is not due to the loss of material but due to the redistribution of gold molecules over the surface. If you think of spreading butter on bread you can get an idea of how this works. Soil particles "hammer" the gold. The fragmentation was caused by farming machinery.

 "Two more Dobunni coins, but the fresh fragments all found within ten to fifteen yards of each other, a few inches deep on ploughed land."
Dean Crawford

"Anglo-Saxon Great Square-Headed brooch fragments, all found over a thirty square yard area. Ninety percent of the brooch recovered, reconstructed and recorded". 
Dean Crawford 

John's Coydog Community page

Monday, 26 October 2015

Dean Crawford — Living among the Dobunni: outliers and micronarratives

Corieltauvi bronze core of an Esup Rasv gold stater
Van Arsdell 920-3, CCI 08.9281, Bromwich Lane Tennis Club, Worcester
Photo: Dean Crawford, post-production processing: John Hooker
(click to enlarge)
Dean is back in communication with me again and has sent me a wealth of material for this series. As editor, I have to sort all of this into various themes and then decide where each should best fit within the sequence.

Today, I am featuring a bronze core of a Corieltauvi stater of the Esup Rasu type found by Dean when contracted to do some metal detecting for an archaeological excavation at the Bromwich Lane Tennis Club in Worcester. Here is the excavation report for the site. This coin, and the next illustrated here came from a fill (#1260) of a ditch consisting of yellowish brown sandy silt. The photograph is taken from two separate shots Dean took when he discovered it. He carried out the detecting in the trench after the archaeologists had finished with it. Of course, the contents of any fill are only tenuously connected with the site, but would most likely come from a site not too far away.

When we find an object far from where would expect to find it, we call it an outlier. Most often, such things are seen as being not helpful in drawing up distribution patterns, but when examined more closely can often provide unexpected information. I wrote about such a group of finds of Dobunni origin from Lambay Island near Dublin. Before my examination, they were believed to be Brigantes and although the original interpretation was badly flawed, as it was based only on one of the finds (and even then with little evidence) it had long been assumed to have been correct.

Micronarratives, and their related related "language games" are postmodern terms created by Jean-François Lyotard:
"In Lyotard's works, the term 'language games', sometimes also called 'phrase regimens', denotes the multiplicity of communities of meaning, the innumerable and incommensurable separate systems in which meanings are produced and rules for their circulation are created."
For the excavating archaeologists, the find is  but a detail of the overall excavation of the site, and while recorded, there is attempt to interpret; for the numismatist, it provides another example for die studies; for me, it speaks of Dobunnic communication along the Jurassic Way to eastern England: the territories of the Iceni and Coriletauvi; for Dean, it was a great discovery that he not only handed over to the excavators, but also sent the photographs and information to Philip de Jersey at the CCI at Oxford where it was given its CCI number. Strangely, it does not appear at all in the Portable Antiquity Scheme's listing for the type (although both earlier and later recorded examples do).

British imitative Copper As of the Minerva type mostly copied from
a Claudius type, but here the obverse head appears to have been
taken from a coin of Tiberius (photo credits: as above)
Dean also discovered the coin illustrated on the left in the same fill. Being from fill, no certain association can be made with the Corieltauvi stater, but we do know that some Dobunni sites also contain cut Roman coins together with evidence of metalworking and we have discussed examples in this blog series. Dean is also pleased to not that both coins would now be under a car park if he had not offered his services.

Archaeobloggers still operating under the modernist paradigms of the early seventies and unwilling to face new realities can make little of all of this. They rant about "unethical behaviour", tar everyone with the same brush and imagine some unified "public" all with the same mind. The Lyotard quote continues:
"This becomes more crucial in Au juste: Conversations (Just Gaming) (1979) and Le Différend (The Differend) (1983), which develop a postmodern theory of justice. It might appear that the atomisation of human beings implied by the notion of the micronarrative and the language game suggests a collapse of ethics. It has often been thought that universality is a condition for something to be a properly ethical statement: 'thou shalt not steal' is an ethical statement in a way that 'thou shalt not steal from Margaret' is not. The latter is too particular to be an ethical statement (what's so special about Margaret?); it is only ethical if it rests on a universal statement ('thou shalt not steal from anyone'). But universals are impermissible in a world that has lost faith in metanarratives, and so it would seem that ethics is impossible. Justice and injustice can only be terms within language games, and the universality of ethics is out of the window. Lyotard argues that notions of justice and injustice do in fact remain in postmodernism. The new definition of injustice is indeed to use the language rules from one 'phrase regimen' and apply them to another. Ethical behaviour is about remaining alert precisely to the threat of this injustice, of paying attention to things in their particularity and not enclosing them within abstract conceptuality. One must bear witness to the 'differend'."
More in this series tomorrow.

John's Coydog Community page

Friday, 23 October 2015

Dean Crawford — Living among the Dobunni: the Bodvoc gold stater

Bodvoc gold stater
photo: Dean Crawford
Of all the coins of the Dobunni, this one is the most iconic. In John Evans FSA FGS, The Coins of the Ancient Britons, London, 1864, several pages are devoted to it and Evans dismisses the early views that the legend referred to Boudicca of the Iceni.

Dean's example clearly shows the obverse features mentioned at the outset by Evans (p.134):
"On both varieties there is a slight indentation round the edge of the letters, showing that they were not engraved, but punched into the dies, and that the burr thus occasioned was not removed from the face of the dies, having been probably left with the view of giving greater apparent relief to the letters on the coins. Though the legend upon them occupies the same position as the TINC and COM.F on the coins of the South-eastern district, yet there is this material difference, that it is not placed within a sunk recess, like a countermark, but stands up in high relief on the field."
I include the last part of this quote which refers to the coinage of Tincomaros of the British Atrebates as I speculate on the meaning of the name Tincomaros.

You can see more Bodvoc gold staters (47 records) on my Celtic Coin Index Online.

Have an iconic weekend and I will be back with more in this series on Monday.

John's Coydog Community page

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Dean Crawford — Living among the Dobunni: green waste

Green waste bin
photo: Bidgee
In the 16th October post in this series, Dean brings up the problems of green waste and in a comment Craig references
James Gerrard, Liz Caldwell and Alisa Kennedy, Green Waste and Archaeological Geophysics, Archaeological Prospection Volume 22, Issue 2, pages 139–142, April/June 2015. (abstract and article). The metal-detectorist view is further covered in the blog Ban 'Green' Waste being dumped on our Countryside!!

As I can add nothing new to the topic, itself, I think it better to treat the subject more from the McLuhan viewpoint: how is this medium treating the subject of green waste?

If you Google "green waste" you will likely see several pages promoting the practice starting with a focus on your own geographical location and spreading outward from there; related searches will provide more of the same promotion and you will have to mine very deeply into the search results to find much of the negative aspect dealt with as a main topic.

There is nothing wrong with any specialist looking at green waste with the focus of their own interest: the field archaeologist writes of concerns with magnetometer surveys; Dean and other metal detectorists are concerned that fields become unsearchable. I can expand on the latter from my own interest in Celtic coin types and varieties: the more variations that I can find, the more I can apply my own methods. The metal detectorist has provided me the most valuable source of all for these.

Despite tabloid journalism saying "what the public thinks", there really is no public as a source of opinion, there are only cultural frames and no one shares exactly the same set of cultural frames with anyone else on earth. It is only by ignoring quite a number of cultural frames that the illusion can be created.

Much really depends on what terms are searched and it is advisable to be aware of the fact that the web has a tendency to proliferate tabloid practices and then turn these into memes.

Dean will be very busy over the next few days and thus might have little opportunity to contribute, but I will be back tomorrow with more in this series.

John's Coydog Community page

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Dean Crawford — Living among the Dobunni: fragmentation

Typical agricultural damage found on one of
Dean's Romano-British sites.  photo: Dean Crawford
While Dean's reported sites remain neglected by local archaeologists, nature has its own agenda. For many years, now, Dean has shown me photographs of the continuing destruction of archaeological remains lying in ploughsoil. Yet a few archaeologists seem more concerned about metal-detectorists removing even such fragmented remains than the proper conservation of archaeological evidence. Fortunately this is only the view of the vocal minority; those with their own agendas. You can read about the real problems in: Trials, Oxford Archaeology South and Cranfield University, 2009. Dean continues:

"If these archaeologists fully understood where 99.9% of our finds come from (the horizontal context that they strip off and dump to one side) they would understand why they should promote recording detectorists as much as possible — these finds carry such important information from our past and are at risk from not only the archaeologists who discard the layers containing these finds but they are destined to disintegration from exposure to constant harrowing by farm machinery and acidic agrochemicals on a massive scale.

Dobunni silver units damaged by agriculture
photo: Dean Crawford
"So much has changed since I first started this hobby, the majority of artefacts are now "partefacts" and coins are bent, fragmented and corroded. That last old head Bodvoc silver unit was about 3 inches deep. Every Dobunni coin I have ever found has never been deeper than nine inches, but most are found at 2-6 inches."

The following video shows the standard mechanical removal of layers deeper than the vast majority of metal detector finds in preparation for archaeological excavation:

"All I can add to Wayne Sayles' comment is that I don't really have a problem with how the land is being managed as regards the current system of preservation. I do, however, have a problem with the way that those (often detectorists) who contribute greatly towards identifying these areas for preservation are treated afterwards, and in general. This is not aimed at the PAS, but the profession as a whole. I do not expect anything in return for the information provided, but I do not expect a kick in the teeth either. The negative archaeological stigma toward us amateurs destroys so much good that can be gleaned."

John's Coydog Community page

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Dean Crawford — Living among the Dobunni: some non-Dobunni finds

Continuing in the theme of yesterday's post, here are just a few of the many finds Dean has recorded at the  UK Detector Finds Database (all photos by Dean Crawford):

1.  "A cut halfpenny of Harold II. Minted at Droitwich, Worcestershire. This is the second known specimen of the Droitwich moneyer Hethewulf, which is from the same dies as the other known specimen which resides in the British Museum.(1066)"

2.  "Henry I (1100-1135). BMC type XII penny, minted at Hastings.
The Hastings moneyer Wulnoth has previously been recorded from only one coin, a type X penny in the Beauvais hoard."

3.  "Richard I or John short cross penny of Rhuddlan. (The coins of this mint were struck from local dies and do not conform to the classes of the main short cross series.)"

4.  "Henry V penny of London. An extremely rare type struck from a modified earlier die. The die originally had an annulet to the left, and a pellet to the right of the crown. The latter mark has been overpunched on the die with a mullet."

5.  "Elizabeth I (1558 - 1603) gold half pound (10 shillings). Initial mark: cross crosslet (1560-1)."

We will be back to the main topics in this series tomorrow.

John's Coydog Community page

Monday, 19 October 2015

Dean Crawford — Living among the Dobunni: Dobunni gold

Today's post will showcase some Dobunni gold discovered and recorded by Dean Crawford. It is here where the main value of Dean's work can be seen. After twenty five years of complete neglect by archaeologists of the sites he recorded, it is unlikely that future archaeologists will behave in any different manner. Even were they to do so we must wonder what will have survived at all by that time. However, Dean's work has been of great value to my own research (much of it recorded on this blog) and to Celtic numismatists and independent researchers in general. I am breaking with my normal formatting for legibility purposes. The following coins are ordered by their Van Arsdell number.

VA 1010-3 (quarter stater) The numbers link to the record where the photograph resides. All photos are by Dean Crawford unless otherwise stated.
click any image for possible enlargements.

1. See my Celtic Coin Index Online for the 32 examples of this type which include a number of die varieties. This one has some damage to the top half of the reverse.





VA 1035 (Corio stater)

photo: PAS

VA 1035-1 (Corio stater)
photo: PAS

VA 1105-1 (Eisu stater)

photo: public domain

VA 1105-1 (Eisu stater)

photo: public domain

Cut fragment of Roman aureus of Postumus

 10. This cut aureus fragment came from a site where Dobunni coins are also found. For a possible explanation of this, see my series on the Frome hoard, especially this post.

Tomorrow, A few notable non-Celtic recorded finds by Dean Crawford.

John's Coydog Community page

Friday, 16 October 2015

Dean Crawford — Living among the Dobunni: up to the present

"I've been waiting 25 years to find it."
This is the third bearded head Bodvoc silver unit
to be discovered. Dean took this photo when it came
out of the ground recently
Dean continues from yesterday:
"This was about the time that the Internet forum had come come into fashion. Remember the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) forum? We all aired our views, only to to have them heavily moderated in the anti metal-detecting way by the forum administrator who was their appointed online PAS representative. Two anti metal detecting/collecting members were given free rein whilst people like me, who promoted  recording, were strongly moderated. All of my communications were summarily dismissed and I was told to stop scaremongering, as this might put off PAS recorders
"My opinion was that you will lose them anyway, especially the more important ones, if you do not communicate and do not do things properly. I could go into the details, but there is little point.  It is a shame that they are not better managed.
"I think that my Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) knew that the the system would not listen to her, either, so she drifted away from me. It was a new system of land management that was perfect for the ignorant ways of the "old-school archaeologists": farmers were being effectively controlled by the archaeologists, thus they also controlled the detectorists. It could have been overcome if they had listened to my suggestions — Why stop a recording detectorist? Why not encourage such a person? More importantly, why try to silence me after all I had done for the PAS and our history?
"None of the seventy two rural sites I recorded have been excavated. There is no funding to do so, anyway. I think that our local archaeology department has received cuts up to 60% in recent years with many people losing their jobs. The only time that a site is investigated is when a developer pays for it, or when it is excavated by amateur archaeologists [I spoke on the construction of archaeological expert systems at the 1999 meeting of the Council for Independent Archaeology at Sheffield, and was shown the report of such an excavation. It was much more than the archaeology reports you usually see: In book-form it was a work of art in itself, beautifully written with excellent drawings of all of the finds. It was of the fine quality one finds mostly in nineteenth and early twentieth century books. J.H.]
"The big worry for detectorists at the moment is "green waste". The mulchings from recycling companies tipped onto fields. Millions of tonnes of it is being spread on our fields, supposedly biodegradable, but also full of chewed up pieces of metal, anything which is non-magnetic as it escaped those filters, such as aluminium, screws, circuit-board pieces etc. We, as detectorists cannot search many of our fields any more as they are so contaminated that the detector does not work. Natural England do not seem to care about this. It is mainly only the the detectorist who complains, so why would they care?
Have an environmentally friendly weekend, more in this series on Monday.

John's Coydog Community page

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Dean Crawford — Living among the Dobunni: The Portable Antiquities Scheme and the loss of knowledge

Some Dobunni silver units found by Dean Crawford
Photo: Dean Crawford

"I continued to record all of my finds through the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) as well. I also promoted the PAS as much as possible, to all my detecting pals, reassuring them that the PAS could be  trusted and that they wanted to work with us. I organised metal detecting days to promote PAS recording, such as GPS recording, educational days, and rallies.

"I added a few more sites to the Sites and Monument Records (SMR) as time went on but decided to stop reporting sites as my information began to work against me. The worst part was having all my reservations ignored, not only that, but I was told to stop scaremongering.
"Romano-British sites that I had recorded were seeing land use changes, taken out of crop rotation and put under permanent pasture, without any communication to me from the people to whom I gave this valuable information. This is fine if you want to hang up your detector, as finds no longer come into the range of the detector from cultivation. Whilst this can be beneficial for preservation, I advised them that they should at least inform recorders that this can and will happen and they will effectively lose their sites, hence the PAS will lose their recorders and gain enemies.
This was all due to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) which was introduced in 2001. Farmers were encouraged to manage their land according to their historical environment advisor (HEA) or the archaeologist who was employed by them. Farmers were offered various ways to manage their land, in return for subsidies. Farmers were also generally discouraged from allowing metal detecting on their land - I lost quite a number of permissions due to "I'm in this scheme now...."
"It was getting complicated: it had now escalated  and was being run by the Natural England entry level scheme (ELS) which continued to allow metal detecting on the land, but many farmers were unaware of this and their local HEA certainly did not bother correcting them. Why would they? Then there was the higher level scheme (HLS)  usually encouraged if any known site was on their land. To allow metal detecting on HLS land you had to seek a derogation with English Heritage (EH), you had to supply a method, maps, drawings of the areas, and of course to provide a good reason to need to detect on the land. It was not going to happen. We all lost our interesting sites. This had become the modern day form of scheduling: land and sites could still be ploughed under but we as detectorists were not allowed on them as we might do some damage. It did not even matter if we recorded our finds properly."
After having to convert Dean's use of the various bureaucratic acronyms to the standard reporting format, it struck me that some of my readers are in countries far less choked with bureaucracy than the U.K. and that all this must seem very alien to them. Such bureaucratic complexities are well-known to allow personal agendas free rein. I had noticed a lot of this in the U.S. Department of State when I was doing volunteer public relations work for the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild. Dean's words reveal the same situation.

There is a Jungian term of which I am rather fond: Enantiodromia. This is where "a thing psychically transmogrifies into its Shadow opposite, in the repression of psychic forces that are thereby cathected into something powerful and threatening.". Simply put, it becomes a neurosis.

The greatest weakness in contextual archaeology is that the term loses its broader definitions and becomes focused only on the archaeological site, itself. Knowledge is far more complex than this: the value of any knowledge really depends on its usefulness. The metal detectorist has revealed hundreds of new types and varieties of British Celtic coins, and through these, myself and  many others have been able to gain access to the very minds that designed and used these objects. The archaeological site can only approach this level of understanding, and then only very weakly, by comparing like sites. Archaeology has, throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century and later, been divesting itself of many systems of analysis whenever it spotted a problem, not understanding that these problems were corrected as their disciplines evolved. Thus ghettoised, archaeology has become far less relevant to the public and this situation has worsened into virtually unintelligible, and frankly, meaningless academic papers, the likes of which are satirized by the "pomo generator" (which has nothing at all to do with true post-modernism). It is wonderful example of modern Dadaism.

More from Dean (and myself) tomorrow.

John's Coydog Community page

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Dean Crawford — Living among the Dobunni: Before the Portable Antiquities Scheme

A selection of Dobunni gold staters
found by Dean Crawford over the years.
photo: Dean Crawford
"I reported the archaeological sites that I had discovered in 1997 directly to Historic Environment Record (HER) officer Duncan Brown (he left there soon afterwards). It was called the Sites and Monument Records back then.

"I went in to the archaeology department one day and added all the Roman-British sites I had discovered, adding useful information such as notable finds and dated the sites as per the finds.

"I recorded seventy two rural sites, of which forty seven were unknown. It turned out later that there were some aerial photographs of crop-marks of a couple of them but that was all.

"They were so impressed that I began metal detecting surveys on various projects and with great success. They paid me too. I still have the records of the projects and the finds. I also started working for other archaeology units around the country.

"The metal finds are interesting when compared to other tribes. Dobunni metal producing sites are far rarer to find. I have detected all over this country and the pattern is slightly different here in Dobunni land: for starters, the coins are harder to find due to the alloys on the majority of the later coins. Also it is rarer to find them on Roman sites for some reason. I must have found and detected on hundreds of rural Roman sites around here and probably less than ten of them produce Dobunni finds. Whereas, elsewhere in the country, you have a very good chance of finding the local Iron Age coins on a Roman site (Durotriges being the most prolific). Is this just due to the amount of coinage minted for each area? I'm not sure."
Dean Crawford (email correspondence).

The closest parallel to Dean, that I can find is farmer/numismatist/environmentalist Henry R. Mossop:
"On 6th November 1991, Glendining's, London sold the "H. R. Mossop collection, Celtic Coins of Britain and other English Hammered Coins". The sale was held on the third anniversary of Henry Mossop's death. Henry Richard Mossop is best known for his book The Lincoln Mint: c. 890-1279.37 After its publication, Mossop devoted his attention to the collection and study of Celtic coins. He corresponded with the two most eminent Celtic numismatists of the day, Derek F. Allen and Commander R. P. Mack and entered into a long working relationship with the archaeologist Jeffrey May. May had been a student of the great Christopher Hawkes and it was Hawkes who had recommended May to Nottingham University. Jeffrey May became the Head of Archaeology at Nottingham, publishing Prehistoric Lincolnshire, and the two volume Dragonby Report. In a 20th March 1989 letter to the independent scholar John Hooker, Jeffrey May said "I have been working on the coins of the Corieltauvi (formerly Coritani) for the last ten years or more, in collaboration with Mr. Henry Mossop, with a view to publishing an updated version of D. F. Allen's important book, Coins of the Coritani.
"There has been an enormous increase in the number of coins recorded since 1963; the progress of the work has been inevitably slow, and complicated by the death of Henry Mossop. Publication is still some way off, but I will let you know when it appears." Sadly, Jeffrey May passed away on July 15, 2006, aged 69. The work remains unfinished and unpublished.
"The increased numbers of Corieltauvian coins is due both to the start of the Celtic Coin Index and to the popularity of metal detecting in England. Henry Mossop was one of England's first environmentalists – planting thousands of trees on the family farm and he was a pioneer in metal detecting, importing one of the first machines from the U.S. He instructed other metal detectorists to record find details and the vast majority of the coins in his collection had the find spot recorded on the ticket. Always willing to share his collection with others he had many numismatist and archaeologist visitors to his farm and being of such a generous nature, he always insisted on filling their cars with fuel from his storage tank, saying, "After all, you've driven so far to come to see me". Mossop and May, together with D. F. Allen and Commander Mack built upon and expanded the earlier research into British Celtic coins started by the 19th century collector Sir John Evans—who became president of the Society of Antiquaries, president of what became the Royal Numismatic Society, and a Trustee of the BM. Seventy-four coins from Henry Mossop's collection are now at the British Museum.".    Newcastle Paper, Ancient Coin Collectors Guild, p12(with footnote references)
You will not find a more detailed biography of Henry R. Mossop on the web. Archaeologist Ian Stead, Reading the Past: Current approaches to interpretation in archaeology, 1986, p.163 explains:
"Most individuals in the general public find it extremely difficult to develop their ideas about an alternative past in relation to the data from the past. They are excited by Von Daniken and films such as One Million Years B.C. and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and they develop their personal views about what the past must have been like, but they are kept at a distance from archaeological artefacts by glass cases, systems analyses and the jargon of social theory. When they do manage to gain some access to an immediately experienced past, they are often directly confronted by the archaeological establishment, or else their views are studiously ignored." (my Italics).
Tomorrow, how archaeologist and bureaucratic mismanagement wasted all that Dean had to offer.

John's Coydog Community page