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 Post subject: Time Team Strike Gold at Codnor Castle
PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 7:03 pm 
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Have just been unwinding in front of my recording of yesterday's Time Team, from Codnor Castle, Derbyshire (Time Team is a UK archaelogy programme on Channel 4, for our non UK members: http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/T/timeteam/).

Amazingly enough, a local amateur metal detectorist who they had working for them (along with the usual Channel 4 interns who fulfil the producer's totty quotient by posing as students-getting-exacavation-experience in C4s blatantly obvious attempt to sex up archaeology [in my personal opinion, not NWI statement etc]) found a very large gold coin, a noble of Henry V's reign, while going over the spoil before a particular trench was backfilled. This is the most valuable find ever made by Time Team, in terms of financial value, and was in perfect condition.

Hmmmmm, I thought, is this another case of TV fakery, like the many such incidents we have heard about over here recently? It seemed too improbable and so very very convenient, being in the first show of the 2008 season etc. Apparently, not, it does seem really to have happened and has been reported in the local press for Codnor, in some detail:

http://www.ripleyandheanornews.co.uk/ne ... id=2961056


Anyway, Time Team is controversial, as is the media coverage of archaeology and related incidents in general.

What other ridiculous incidents can people call to mind from their experience of archaeology and from the media coverage of it that called people to question what they were apparently seeing, to the point of crying 'Fake!'? In more general terms, what are the greatest absurdities of archaeology-in-the-media that MWI members can call to mind? What do people think of this find at Codnor Castle?

What seems interesting about this coin is that according to Helen Geake, who researched it and shared her findings, this coin is dated c. 1413-1422 that is the reign of Henry V, it depicts on its obverse side a picture of Edward III's head rising from a warship in commemoration of some unspecified event from start of the 100 Years' War. This is a bit like us depicting a national event from the 1880s on one of our coins - something we don't tend to do. Does anyone here know of any other medieval English (or other coins) that commemorate important national events from the quite distant historical past. Geake also said that this image represents English naval power, which seems like a very abstract subject for a coin of this period. Is this kind of symbolic representation very unusual on medieval coins?

Also, they said that this was a 'hammered gold coin.' Is the meaning of that as obvious as it sounds - that it was beaten into shape rather then pressed with a coin die?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 10:22 pm 
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In my experience, quite a few things turn up on the spoil tip that shouldn't, including coins...though usually they're of the small, green variety.

A large gold one ? Someone wasn't paying attention :shock:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 10:38 pm 
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wearwolf wrote:
In my experience, quite a few things turn up on the spoil tip that shouldn't, including coins...though usually they're of the small, green variety.

A large gold one ? Someone wasn't paying attention :shock:


They sure weren't, this one is about the diameter of a £2 coin (2.7cm or just over 1 inch), possibly larger, only much thinner, and much, much shinier. The gold appeared to be of extremely high purity and quality.

Take a closer look here:
http://www.channel4.com/history/microsi ... noble.html

I have since confirmed the size of the Gold Noble, it was 3.3 - 3.5 cms / approx 1.5 inches. Quite a big thing to miss!


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 10:43 pm 
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Ah Time Team. Will you ever learn. :)

Hammered coins are as the name suggests 'hammered' by placing a blank between an upper and lower die, the upper of which is struck by a hammer. You can get the reverse and obverse in some rather strange combinations as a result. Also often the image will be quite weak on one side as the pressure of the blow dissapates uneavenly accross the blank.

Now as for stories of valuables found after the event here are a few of my own experiences. I cant say which sites these occured on, but most of them are nationally or internationally important programs.

One day whilst working in a finds unit on a major urban site, I was wandering around the trenches, looking for evidence of a bath house, a particular aim of the dig at that time. Lo and behold I met a digger throwing a huge lump of concrete onto the spoil tip. I stoped him and took the op sig away from him, that had obviously come from a bath house, and he had not logged it and did not know where it had come from. Thus we still have no idea where the find came from or where the bath house was.

Again, on a site a dog skull had been excavated from a site, that the digger had thrown away as rubbish when it was actually part of a v. important ritual deposit in a Well, or was.

My favourite instance was a digger who was working on Attican houses. they found a house which they excavated, removing this layer of mud to get to the stone wall of the structure. Unfortunately, the Attican houses consist of only a stone footing on which a mud brick wall was built. they had destroyed a house an a half before what they were doing was noticed.

In fact so much material ends up in spoil, it is rather common practice to have MD's run over the spoil material on site to pick up finds that we (or rather the diggers) did not notice.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:07 pm 
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Heliodorus wrote:
http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/T/timeteam/2008/codnor_castle/codnor-noble.html

That is a lovely thing. What they dont tell you is it is thin like paper. A bit of an exageration but really these are very thin compared to modern coins. In fact comparable coins used to be cut to give smaller denomination coinage.


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