Quite a thought isn’t it? The greatest hoard for decades has yielded less knowledge than it should have. Yet who can deny it? Two things suggest it’s true. First there’s this (courtesy of Paul Barford)…. . .
If only a way could have been found to give the farmer and finder a million or two less (like in most countries) then a million or two more could have been spent on research, for the benefit of the public.
Second, there’s this: it has just been revealed that many pieces of the hoard jigsaw are missing so can’t be researched. Paul Barford (again) has asked the crucial question: “and the missing bits? In whose collection are they now?” We don’t know Paul, but we do know there are only 3 possibilities: a.) The missing bits were never in that field b.) The missing bits are still in that field c.) They’ve been stolen by nighthawks. Our bet is a mixture of b.) and c.) – some have been nighthawked and some are still in the field.
We base that on both logic and evidence. In 2009 when the archaeologists first organised a detecting survey, the new deep seeking machines hadn’t been invented. In 2012 when they returned and found another 90 pieces they had been but few or none were used in the search. Nighthawks on the other hand DO have deepseeking machines and we know, because we’ve photographed the evidence, that they have visited the field. Are they coming regularly, like happens at other high profile findspots? In which land of denial is that not happening?
A reality check is long overdue. In 2012 when archaeologists went back to the site they were “stunned” that another 90 pieces turned up and said: “It’s absolutely amazing. In the last search they used top-quality equipment to go over the area, which they use to find underground stuff in Afghanistan. They were absolutely certain there was nothing else down there.” But actually, what both US and British forces were using at the time (and subsequently) were Ebex 420H machines which have little depth capability (mines are mostly at shallow depth) and are not recommended by the manufactures for use in iron contaminated soil or for finding very small targets. It would be nice if the Establishment swallowed its pride and accepted that we amateurs do have a point. They should arrange for a survey of the field using a large number of Minelab GPX 5000 and similar machines as soon as possible.