Archive for October, 2019

Church donates medieval hand-bell donated to National Museum of Ireland

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin has donated an early medieval hand-bell believed to date to the 8th or 9th century to the National Museum of Ireland. The bell is something of a mysterious object and little is known about its ancient and recent past.

The Knockatemple Hand-Bell was discovered in 1879 at the site of a ruined church in Knockatemple near Glendalough Co. Wicklow. Dr. W. Frazer announced to the Royal Irish Academy on May 26, 1879, the results of the excavation on behalf of Mr. Henry Keogh of Roundwood House who explored the ruins of the church that year.

“This church is situation in the parish of Newcastle, Co. Wicklow, near Roundwood, and in the vicinity of the Vartry Water Reservoir. There appear to be no reliable records of its foundation or destruction, which is so complete that its walls were level to the ground, and what remained of it required to be cleared out of clay and rubbish for two or three feet before the flooring was reached. It must have been a large building, 50 feet long and 26 feet wide, with two side aisles 9 feet wide in the clear, and 26 feet in length, which from the plan may have been of later erection that the church itself. It was disposed east and west, and the floor, which was on the south side, was 4 feet in width. The aisles as well as the central portion of the church were paved with large flat stones, and in one of the aisles to the northward was what Mr. Keogh conjectures to be the remains of a stone altar situated in the east of the building; but he could find no trace of an altar in the body of the church itself. […]

The large square-shaped bronze bell…, measures 12 inches high, and 8 inches across. It was found at the east end of the church, about two feet under the surface, near the position the altar would occupy. It had a handle, which was broken off by the workmen in excavating it…. They also damaged one part of the top of the bell with a pickaxe. Mr. Keogh has polished a corner of it, and it consists of fine bronze made in two portions, the halves being rivetted together.

There was no indication as to the age of the bell noted in the 19th century records. The only artifacts recovered in the 1879 excavation with absolute dates were two coins of Henry III of England (r. 1216-1272) and Alexander II of Scotland (r. 1214-1249) found in burials in the clay and debris layer, so either disturbed church burials or post-destruction interrals.

The bell’s history after its excavation is obscure too. The Archdiocese has owned it since the 1920s. They believe it was bought at auction by a priest of St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, the episcopal seat of the Archbishop of Dublin, in 1915. In 1927, the discovery of the bell was recorded in The Deaneries of Arklow and Wicklow a paper by V Rev. Myles V. Ronan published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. Ronan’s description differed slightly from Frazer’s in that he recognized the bell was made of iron with “traces of bronze plating.”

The Archdiocese wasn’t actively aware of the delicate historic treasure in its care until Cormac Bourke a curator of Medieval antiquities at the Ulster Museum, Belfast, tracked down the bell through the records and reached out to the Diocesan Archives a few years ago. Realizing the artifact needed special conservatorial experience, Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, wrote to the National Museum of Ireland telling them about the bell and offering to donate it to the National Collection of historic hand-bells.

Archbishop Martin officially presented the Knockatemple Hand-Bell to Maeve Sikora, Keeper of Irish Antiquities at the NMI, on September 26th.

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Huge medieval coin hoard found in Denmark

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

A hoard of approximately 1,000 silver and copper coins from the Middle Ages has been found in the woods near Vejle, southeastern Denmark. It is the first medieval coin hoard and the greatest treasure from the Middle Ages ever found in this part of the country and will shed new light on the history of trade in the area.

The hoard was found by VejleMuseerne archaeologist Kasper Terp Høgsberg who was searching the area where individual coins had been found earlier: four of them in March 2017, another in August 2018 and another in September of this year. The finders had turned them into the museum, and after the most recent discovery, Høgsberg decided to investigate the site with a metal detector. He was astonished when his detector started signalling over and over and he quickly found coin after coin just under the surface.

“It felt completely unreal. It is a once-in-a-lifetime thing to find such a treasure. It will never happen again in my career as an archaeologist!” said Høgsberg.

“I thought I was going to find a lost purse with 20 coins along a road, but it just kept going until I eventually had hundreds of coins.”

To get an overview of the walking trail and perhaps find a central location where a hoard might have been buried, Høgsberg scanned along the path. A little ways up on a slope, the detector gave a strong signal. The archaeologist called in a colleague and together they dug out a large block of soil for removal to the Conservation Center in Vejle. As they dug around the area indicated by the detector, they found fragments of pottery and textile with coins still attached to them. This was how the hoard had been buried: wrapped in a cloth and placed in a vessel.

In total, they discovered 803 loose coins, 80% of them silver, 20% copper, along the path and an estimated couple of hundred still ensconced in the burial pot. That’s not counting the six individual ones found over the past two years or any other random finds people might have picked up while strolling through the woods. The museum has made a call to the public to turn in any coins found in the park.

Most of the coins were minted in Hanseatic League cities in Germany around 1400. There are also some Danish coins of yet-to-be-determined dates and one that has been dated to 1424. That is the most recent coin of the ones that have been examined, so the hoard had to have been buried after that. In the first half of the 15th century, Erik of Pomerania ruled Denmark and there were significant conflicts, some escalating to full-blown wars, between Denmark and the Hanseatic cities of northern Germany. Nonetheless, the Hanseatic League remained Denmark’s main trading partner throughout the period, hence the high number of German coins in the hoard.

While it’s difficult to do any direct conversion of currency from 600 years ago, in terms of buying power all the silver coins in the hoard could have bought 10 cows or supported a farmer’s family for more than a year.

The 803 loose coins will go on temporary display at the Spinderihallerne Culture Museum in Vejle this autumn. The coins still attached to the surviving textile and pot are currently being excavated and conserved.

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Bloody gladiator fresco found in Pompeii

Friday, October 11th, 2019

A gripping fresco of gladiatorial combat has been discovered in the excavation of Pompeii’s endlessly awesome Regio V neighborhood. The scene depicts two gladiators at the very end of what must have been a vigorous battle as the loser is a veritable fountain of blood.

On the left is a murmillo-class gladiator kitted out with a gladius (a double-edged short sword), a manica (a segmented arm guard) on his right arm, a scutum (long rectangular shield), an ocrea (shin guard) on his left leg, and a richly beplumed or horsehaired cassis crista (full-coverage helmet with face grill and crest). He stands tall, holding his shield aloft and sword at the ready.

On the right is his opponent, clearly defeated. His is a Thraex or Thracian type gladiator. Thracians were often pitted against murmillos as they were similarly armed with a short sword, a shield (albeit a shorter one) and full-coverage crested helmet. This Thracian has high shin guards on both legs and his shield is on the ground behind him. Blood pours from wounds on his chest, groin and wrist. He isn’t on his knees quite yet, but they are bent. His left arm is outstretched with his finger pointing in what looks like the adlocutio gesture, customarily done with the right arm by a general, the emperor or magistrate running the games to concede grace. Clearly the murmillo has won this bout; the Thracian’s gesture was likely a plea for mercy. Whether our Thraex friend was dealt a final blow or was granted grace for a fight well-fought, we’ll never know.

Another Pompeiian depiction of a battle between murmillo and Thracian is helpfully labeled. The graffiti stick-drawing tells us that the murmillo, a first-time fighter named M. Atillus, defeated the Thraex, L. Raecius Felix, but that Felix, who was previously undefeated with a record of 12 fights and 12 victories, was granted missio (ie, his life was spared).

The fresco was found in a building at the back of the intersection between the Alley of the Balconies and the Way of the Silver Wedding. The wall is trapezoidal and was located under a staircase. The steps are gone, but you can see the impression of where they used to be on the wall above the fresco. On the adjoining wall is a  fragment of another fresco depicting a man in a yellow tunic.

It was probably a shop or a tavern frequented by gladiators — the gladiators’ barracks were nearby — with the second floor either housing the owners’ living quarters or rooms where prostitutes took in customers. Sex workers were often associated with gladiator haunts.

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Nazi hoard given to Argentina’s Holocaust Museum

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

The Nazi objects seized from a shady dealer/collector in Buenos Aires in 2017 have been officially deposited at the Holocaust Museum of Buenos Aires. The 83 objects — 71 unique pieces and some duplicates — were found during a raid seeking trafficked Chinese antiquities. Secreted  in full Nancy Drew style behind a bookcase, Argentine Federal Police agents found a hidden room filled with Nazi artifacts including an eagle statue on a swastika base, an SS hourglass, a large bust of Hitler, a bunch of small busts of Hitler, a cranial measurement device used to determine ostensible racial purity, a sphinx figurine that’s serving heavy Raiders of the Lost Arc vibes, and a Ouija board inscribed with Nazi symbols, an example of Nazism’s obsession with the occult.

At the time of the bust, the name of the collector was not released. We now know it was Carlos Alberto Oliveras. He was charged with violating cultural heritage protection laws regarding other objects found in the raid. In Argentina it’s not a crime to have a bunch of tacky gross Nazi junk in your house. It’s only a crime to sell it, and only original material, so the first step to determining whether Oliveras’ creepy secret Nazi stash was in violation of the law was to determine its authenticity.

Experts from Argentina and Germany have now thoroughly examined and researched the collection. Most of the objects are indeed authentic produced during the Nazi period in Germany and German-occupied countries.  Some were modified to make them more colorful and appealing to buyers, others are later replicas. Oliveras will be tried for keeping Nazi artifacts for commercial purposes (he denies the charge) and the collection has been deposited at the museum by judicial order.

As many as 5,000 Nazi officials are believed to have fled to Argentina after the war, including monsters in human form like Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichmann. The quality and rarity of some of the objects suggests they may have belonged to high-ranking Nazis.

Museum President Marcelo Mindlin said at a press conference on Wednesday that with the judicial deposit:

“they ceased to be objects of a clandestine Nazi cult market to be at the service of education and memory. These despicable objects come from an ideology that produced torture and death. They are the sign of a regime of hate and discrimination that ended the lives of eleven million people (including 1.5 million children), and dragged the world into the worst moment in its history. These objects, which were used in the past to foster hatred, death and destruction, will now be at the service of the transmission of democratic values, education and the struggle for memory, so that tragedies, such as that of the Holocaust, do not happen again.”

The Holocaust Museum of Buenos Aires, the only Holocaust museum in Latin America, opened in 2001. It has been closed for two years of remodeling and conservation work and is scheduled to reopen on December 1st. The objects will be exhibited in its collection of Nazi propaganda and paraphernalia.

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Well-preserved dog remains found in Peru

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

The well-preserved remains of a 1000-year-old dog have been discovered in the Sechin archaeological site in Peru. The dog’s remains are in excellent condition, with significant patches of yellow and brown fur and toe pads still extant.

Sechin, a prehistoric site in northern Peru’s Casma and Sechin river valleys, was inhabited from at least 7600 B.C., the earliest radiocarbon date result from the settlement. Very little is known about the population, but the site was occupied by the Casma/Sechin culture for thousands of years. By 3600 B.C. they were building monumental structures like pyramids, plazas and friezes. The plaza and frieze at Sechin Bajo are the two oldest monumental structures known in the Americas. The Casma/Sechin culture appears to have abandoned Sechin as a result of a war around 100 B.C., but they would later reoccupy it.

The dog’s remains, which date to the reoccupation period, are the second discovery made by the archaeological team since excavations began. It was discovered in the main structure of Sechin, a monumental complex believed to have had religious purpose. Preliminary investigation of the dog suggest it was a native breed from the prehispanic era that was used in the temple.

The excavation project aims to find out more about the history and people Sechin. More finds are expected now the dig has encountered the most recent habitation layer. This first stage of excavations will end in November. After a break for winter, the next stage will begin.

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Unique Bronze Age gold ring found in Cumbria

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

A metal detectorist has discovered a unique Bronze Age gold ring in West Cumbria. Billy Vaughan was scanning a field near his home of Whitehaven when he unearthed the ring. A novice metal detector who has only been at it for six months, Vaughan had already scanned this field dozens of times and only found a few silver coins, buttons and small odds-and-ends. This time the alert was strong, so he dug down five inches below the surface where he found the gold.

He had no idea it even was gold. At first he thought the circular piece with a slightly flattened side was a climber’s carabiner or maybe a tractor coupling. When he took a second look, he realized that was no carabiner. He sent a photo of his find to a metal detecting enthusiast friend with more experience and the response from “Spud” was apparently unprintable. Spud encouraged him to take it to a local jeweler who confirmed that it was indeed gold, 22-carat gold, in fact, and a solid 310 grams (11 ounces) of it.

The ring is tubular, intact and bent into a loop so its terminals overlap. It is covered in decorative dimples all over the surface with only a thin section along the inside of the ring left smooth. Vaughan reported his discovery to the local Finds Liason Officer Lydia Prosser.

“I personally haven’t seen anything like this in my years and I have worked across Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria.  At first, there didn’t seem to be any parallel with the unique decorations and it presented a lot of questions.

But experts have started looking into it and Neil Wilkins, who is the Curator of the Bronze Age artefacts at the British Museum, came across a similar arm ring of Irish origin.  So the latest thinking is it was brought over, or traded, in Ireland.  That may place it as late Bronze Age, around 1800BC.”

The only other Bronze Age gold ring discovered in Cumbria listed in the Portable Antiquities Scheme database is a broken pennanular ring with a smooth surface that was made by rolling a sheet of gold into a tube. It is .67 inches long and weighs just 1.8 grams. That’s less than a half a gram more than the weight of the 1/4 teaspoon of salt I put in a two-egg omelette, just to give you an idea. It was dated to the middle Bronze Age, about 1300-1150 B.C.

The only Bronze Age decorated gold object discovered in Cumbria recorded in the PAS database is the terminal of a lunula (a large collar necklace shaped like a crescent moon). It is decorated with engraved concentric rectangles. The outermost rectangle was enhanced with small square dents that were punched in along the incised line giving it a dashed and dotted effect. It dates to around 2200-1700 B.C. and is believed to have been made in Scotland or Northern England in imitation of Irish originals.

The ring will now be studied by a experts who will advise a coroner’s court whether it qualifies as treasure under the Treasure Act (it does twice over as it is more than 300 years old and is more than 10% precious metal content). A valuation committee will determine its market value — the jeweler assessed its value in gold weight alone at £11,000 ($13,500) — and a local museum will be offered the chance to acquire the artifact for the determined amount which will then be awarded 50/50 to the finder and landowner. Whitehaven’s Beacon Museum would love to have it if they can raise the funds.

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Intact grave of Minoan woman found on Crete

Monday, October 7th, 2019

Archaeologists excavating the ancient settlement of Sisi in the Municipality of Agios Nikolaos, eastern Crete, have unearthed the intact grave of a woman from the Late Minoan era (1490-1360 B.C.). These types of tombs are extremely rare in Crete. They have only been found before in Knossos and Chania.

The artfully crafted box tomb, built in a rectangular shape with high stone walls, was discovered inside an earlier building from the Neopalatial period ( 1750-1490 B.C.) which was built for funerary purposes and used as such in later periods as well. Inside the tomb was the articulated skeleton of an adult woman buried with elegant grave goods: a bronze mirror with an ivory handle, bone and bronze accessories and a necklace of 15 large olive-shaped gold beads alternating with 15 small gold beads.

Built around 2600 B.C., the Early Minoan settlement was abandoned for mysterious reasons. The people left everything behind, but shortly thereafter a monumental building was constructed east of the village. It burned down in 2500 B.C. Its remains were incorporated and reused 800 years later in the construction of a monumental courtyard.

This is the 10th season of excavations in Sissi, led by the Belgian School of Athens and fielding more than 100 archaeologists from many countries. With such a deep bench, the team was able to work in several important areas of the site, including the central monumental courtyard complex and the west wing of the complex. Excavations have revealed a decorated mortar floor and a 109-foot long clay pipe that drained water away from the central courtyard to the eastern slope of the hill.

In the surrounding area, remains were found from other periods that are less known to archaeologists. Among them are the ruins of a house from the Meso-Minoan IIIA period which were destroyed, perhaps in an earthquake, and a rich layer of Late Minoan pottery that was heavily influenced by the Knossian style.

Gold bead necklace from the tomb. Photo courtesy EBSA, M. Anastasiadou.

Edit: This was supposed to have been posted on Friday, but something went awry with the scheduling ’cause I just found it hanging out here in drafts filing its nails and eating bon bons. OFFENSIVE. Even though I hate gaps in my calendar with the fire of a billion hot suns, I can’t in good conscience backdate it to fill in the gap three days later, so I am submitting it now. But I do so under protest!

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Bronzino goes on public display for the 1st time in 5 centuries

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

The Getty Museum has acquired a painting by Agnolo Bronzino that has been in private hands for years, for many centuries incorrectly attributed, and never on public display. It was exhibited publicly for the first time in almost 500 years on Thursday.

Virgin and Child with Saint Elizabeth and Saint John the Baptist was painted between 1540 and 1545 at Cosimo I de’ Medici’s court in Florence. It is a vividly colored tableau of the Virgin Mary, Christ Child, senior St. Elizabeth and junior John the Baptist. The marble-smooth, luminous quality of the skin, the glossy surface are characteristic of Bronzino’s style. He was influenced by the sculptures of Michelangelo and revival of Classical sculptural styles embraced by artists like Michelangelo and this work is an example of him at the apex of his career.

A second version of the present work was bequeathed in 1941 by Sir Lionel Faudel-Phillips to the National Gallery, London. Its provenance cannot be traced before its appearance in 1916.

Bronzino is known to have created multiple versions of the same composition on several other occasions. He maintained that changing luminosity to mimic different times of the day allowed the viewer to appreciate different tones and colors, while requiring few changes or adjustments to the composition itself. The painting in London and the work now at the Getty are set at night and at dawn, respectively. The moonlight of the picture in London enhances the concision of the forms, while the diffused light of the dawn intensifies the bright, contrasting colors in the Getty painting.

This version of the painting first appears on the historical record in 1898 when it was sold in Milan. It was misattributed to Andrea del Sarto. It was sold into private hands and fell off the radar until 1964 when it appeared in a London sale. This time it was correctly attributed to Bronzino, his signature having been found in the lower left of the work. Again it was sold to a private collector and would only be published in 2016. Now it has been bought in yet another a private sale, only this time the buyer is a museum.

Before it was put on display in Gallery N204 in the Getty Center’s North Pavilion, the painting and its gilded auricular frame were examined by conservators. The oil-on-panel was determined to be in an excellent state of preservation allowing it to be placed on view very quickly. If you’d like to learn about the Getty’s new Bronzino, senior curator of paintings Davide Gasparaotto will be hosting a Facebook Live event about it on Wednesday, October 9th and 9:30AM PT.

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Roman wreck with sealed amphorae found at Mallorcan beach

Saturday, October 5th, 2019

This July, Félix Alarcón and his wife were walking on the Can Pastilla beach beach at Palma de Mallorca when they came across the pieces of clay amphorae sticking out of the seabed. The artifacts had been exposed by a strong storm. He alerted the Cultural Patrimony Council of Mallorca who confirmed there was a Roman-era cargo ship approximately 33 feet long and 16 feet wide just a few meters from one of the most popular tourist-frequented beaches on the Balearic Islands. 

The councilor for heritage quickly commissioned the Instituto Balear de Estudios en Arqueología Marítima to excavate the site which was so exposed it was at immediate risk of damage and theft from the curious or treasure hunters. It was placed under 24-hour police surveillance to protect it while excavations were carried out.

A team of researchers from different fields — maritime archaeologists, naval architecture experts, restorers and documentary filmmakers — were deployed to salvage the wreck. They discovered a 3rd century A.D. cargo vessel that sank near Mallorca on its way from southern Iberia to Rome. Its cargo of amphorae is in impeccable condition and the wooden hull of the ship is also intact, making it one of the best preserved Roman shipwrecks in the southern Mediterranean.

Because so many of the jugs were undamaged, archaeologists believe that whatever sank the boat wasn’t a turbulent shipwreck caused by bad weather. The two leading hypotheses are that the ship somehow sprung a leak; or perhaps a violent clash between humans on-board resulted in the ship’s demise.

It’s possible we’ll never know. The amphorae, on the other hand, should reveal what the vessel was transporting.

Archaeologists believe, based on the regions from which the amphorae appear to have originated, the contents were probably foodstuffs – things like wine, olive oil, and a type of fermented fish sauce called garum from Lusitania that was particularly prized in Rome.

The excavation recovered all portable materials that were at greatest danger of being looted. The rest of the archaeological materials and remains, including the hull, were reburied in the sand of the seabed. The recovered materials have been transported to the Museu de Mallorca where they will be desalinated and conserved. The content of the amphorae and the wood will also be analyzed.

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Anglo-Saxon name found on Galloway Hoard arm-ring

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

The first round of research into the Galloway Hoard, the richest and most varied Viking hoard ever discovered in Britain or Ireland, has revealed a name and it’s an Anglo-Saxon name, not a Viking one.  Five of the silver armbands in the hoard have runes etched on them. Runic scripts are varied, complex and were used for several different languages so interpreting them can be challenging. Dr. David Parsons of the University of Wales was able to decipher the Old English runes inscribed on one of the silver arm-rings. They read “Ecgbeorht,” an ancient spelling of the name “Egbert.”

“Five of the silver arm-rings have runic inscriptions scratched into them which may have functioned as labels identifying distinct portions of the hoard, perhaps recording the names of the people who owned and buried them. Arm-rings of this sort are most commonly associated with Viking discoveries around the Irish Sea coastlands. Yet these runes are not of the familiar Scandinavian variety common around this date on the nearby Isle of Man, but of a distinctively Anglo-Saxon type. And while several of the texts are abbreviated and uncertain, one is splendidly clear: it reads Ecgbeorht, Egbert, a common and thoroughly Anglo-Saxon man’s name.

There is some reason, therefore, to suspect that the Galloway ‘Viking’ Hoard may have been deposited by a people who, to judge by name and choice of script, may have considered themselves part of the English-speaking world. It is even possible that these were locals: Galloway had been part of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria since the early eighth century, and was referred to as the ‘Saxon coast’ in the Irish chronicles as late as the tenth century.”

The fact that a man’s name was etched into one of the 100 pieces in the hoard does not mean he’s the person who assembled it and/or buried it, notwithstanding the plethora of current headlines hyping Egbert as the hoard’s owner. The three abbreviated Anglo-Saxon runic inscriptions also seem to have been names, and the fourth one which has yet to be deciphered could be one too, so it’s not about the “owner of the Galloway Hoard found,” but rather evidence in favor of Anglo-Saxon speakers having had their hands on at least some elements of this hoard before it was buried in the early 10th century.

Dr Adrian Maldonado, Glenmorangie Research Fellow at National Museums Scotland, said:

“If the hoard belonged to a person or group of Anglo-Saxon speakers, does it mean they were out raiding with other Vikings? Or that these Viking hoards were not always the product of Scandinavian raiders? There are other explanations, but either way this transforms our thinking on the ‘Viking Age’ in Scotland.

“These inscriptions are evidence that identity was complex in the past, just as it can be today. In Early Medieval Scotland, we have inscriptions in five different scripts (Latin, ogham, Pictish symbols, Scandinavian and Anglian runes) making it a diverse and multilingual era. Place-names in British, Gaelic, Norse and Old English were being coined in South West Scotland around the time of the Galloway Hoard.  The sea was more like a motorway, allowing people to communicate across linguistic boundaries, exchanging ideas and objects. This is just a glimpse of how the Galloway Hoard will continue to challenge our thinking as conservation continues.”

The Hoard is not on display as conservators and researchers work on it. Next spring will kick off a new exhibition tour at four museums in Scotland beginning with the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh in May.

Meanwhile, the Galloway Hoard is at the center of a whole different kind of show right now, a courtroom drama, if you will. You might recall that back in 2017 when National Museums Scotland announced that it had raised the $2.5 million for the ex gratia payment to secure the hoard, the award was going to be split down the middle between the finder, metal detectorist Derek McLennan, and the owners of the field where the hoard was found, the Church of Scotland. Well two years have passed, and not only has the Church not received a penny of those millions, McLennan has full on ghosted them. They can’t even reach him on the phone.

It turns out that everywhere else in the UK, the Treasure Act stipulates that awards are to be split between finder and landowner, but in Scotland all payment divisions are solely at the discretion of the finders. The widely accepted practice among metal detectorists is the 50/50 split because it encourages landowners to grant them permission to search their land. No place to look, nothing to find. A partnership relationship benefits everyone.

According to the Church of Scotland, this agreement was formalized between both parties when the National Museums Scotland raised the funds. They would split the proceeds and the Church would use its share “for the good of the local parish.” A year later, the Church reached out to Reverend David Bartholomew, a metal detectorist friend of McLennan’s who had been with him the day of the find, asking him to find out what was up with the moneys because he wasn’t responding to their attempts to contact him. So then Bartholomew tried calling, emailing, writing letters and even showed up at his house, all to no avail.

The Church of Scotland has now filed suit. McLennan has not responded to any requests for comment from the media.

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