Friday, October 2, 2009

Entry: Staffordshire Hoard

Alert reader John sent me a link to this article. Thanks again, John!

This past July, amateur treasure hunter Terry Herbert uncovered the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold found to date, estimated to be worth over 1 million GBP! Which is over $1.5 million in real money!

Says John:

"The article itself is cool, but one line really grabbed me:

'The hoard was reported to the local officer of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and on 24 September 2009 was declared treasure by the South Staffordshire coroner.'

The coroner?! What the what?!? Why not the undertaker? Or the baker? Seriously. Those kooky Brits."

It does give one pause. Maybe they figured that he rifles through the dead's possessions enough that he was one most likely to be able to discern the crap from the good stuff?

Another thing to ponder: They found over 1500 pieces of armor and weaponry in about 20 square meters, with "no traces of any graves, buildings, or other structures have been found." How did they all end up there? A big giant battle, followed by a big giant pile of dead bodies that nobody bothered to clean up? A big giant barracks where everyone decided to become pacifist hippies one day and left all their swag behind? A big giant something else?


Henning Makholm said...

The word "coroner" is a link, leading to an article that explains all:

"The office of Coroner was formally established in England by Article 20 of the "Articles of Eyre" in September 1194 to "keep the pleas of the Crown" or in Latin "custos placitorum coronas" from which the word "coroner" is derived. This role provided a local county official whose primary duty was to protect the financial interest of the crown in criminal proceedings.
Coroners also have a role in treasure trove cases. This role arose from the ancient duty of the coroner as a protector of the property of The Crown."

Regina said...

Oh, well damn! Thanks for pointing that out... and having the integrity to do the background reading, that I apparently lack.

Henning Makholm said...

Well, I concede that the article does not quite explain how "protector of the crown's financial interest" came to be "investigator of sudden deaths".

I like to think, however, that it was something like: "What? One of Our subjects went and died? That's going to cost Us in lost taxes. Quick, find out if there's anyone We can sue for damages!"