by Nigel Swift

In a recent chat with some prominent archaeologists, I was surprised to hear:
There is absolutely no foolproof method for extracting every single scrap of a disturbed hoard from the ploughsoil. Like any archaeological project, pragmatic decisions have to be made about whether the majority and/or a representative sample have been recovered.

But don’t exceptional assets warrant exceptional measures? Modern detectors now go far deeper so the logic is inescapable: they need to go back. It wouldn’t even be expensive: 50 archaeology students with 50 GPX 5000 machines loaned by Minelab would be a response worthy of this hoard – at last!


The “illusory truth effect” dictates that when people hear a false statement multiple times they perceive it as true. Hence people are prepared to be repeatedly reassured that the original searches using Ebex 420H machines reaching down 30cm were adequate. The nighthawk who subsequently dug this hole knew better and may well have used a GPX 5000  machine which can go down to 85cm.


More Heritage Journal views on artefact collecting