A jobless man on welfare found one of the most important treasures of the century, according to British archaeologists. Over 1,500 pieces of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver work from the seventh century were found in a farmer's field. (The Anglo-Saxons ruled England from the 400s to 1066, when the Normans invaded.) The treasure hunter earned his luck by using a metal detector for 18 years before he made this discovery. The treasure included gold and silver sword fittings, crosses, dagger hilts, and parts of swords and helmets worth at least $1.6 million. The treasure belongs to the government, which will sell it to museums. The money will be shared; half to the farmer who owned the land, half to the finder.
Hunters with metal detectors and bottle diggers may damage historic sites, so they are scorned by archaeologists in the U.S.A. There are trespassing and other laws to prevent them from searching. Perhaps there should be a way to legalize what they do and to pay them for what they find so museums get the artifacts, finders get the money, and there is less damage and theft at sites that should be studied (see last week's ezine).