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By Nigel Swift

Professor Svein Gullbekk of the University of Oslo: “Something is not quite right here … When archaeologists examine coin hoards, or coins found under the floors of Norwegian medieval churches, they almost always find that 90 per cent of the coins are Norwegian. When hobbyists find medieval coins in counties such as Østfold, Vestfold, Agder and Oslo, 80-90 per cent of what they report to authorities are foreign coins, mostly English coins of little value.

Gullbekk says this makes him feel like he has to ask a cheeky question: “Is it possible that if a hobbyist finds an English coin, he hands it in, but if he finds a more valuable Norwegian coin from the Middle Ages, he keeps it for himself? One possibility is that we are facing something that, from a historical perspective, is very interesting— and that means the history of Norwegian coin use in the Middle Ages must be rewritten… Or we have to ask if some hobbyists simply ‘select’ their findings.

What a question! Why has it not been highlighted to farmers, stakeholders and legislators in more than 20 years of existence of Britain’s state-funded conservation angels?.

Yes, it’s a cheeky image but that’s what watching the steady erosion of knowledge over decades does to you.

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