My last post has evidently struck a nerve. Three blogger/archaeologists associated with Saving Antiquities for Everyone responded, two with multiple posts addressing the same issue. You can find them all through this post from Nathan Elkins: http://coinarchaeology.blogspot.com/2008/10/controversial-excavation-of-coin-hoard.html
I may not always agree with Nathan, but at least he generally makes a real effort to be polite!
Anyway, all seem concerned by the alleged loss of context of this find, which apparently sat upon an ancient midden or garbage dump. But what would have that context really told us other than someone deposited bronze nummi out with trash?
I'm sure Messrs. Gill, Barford and Elkins will come up with something, but certainly all context is not created equal. Here, for example, the follow up investigations by a professional archaeologist apparently did not come up with anything more of real signifcance or we would likely have heard it by now.
All this actually points to the genius of the British and Welsh system. Treasure Trove and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in effect put amateurs into a partnership with professional archaeologists. The amateurs may be in it just for the money(as at least Messr. Barford insinuates) or they may be in it because they truly love history-- but the effect is much the same. Trained archaeologists are few in number and no one can expect them to spend much time roving the countryside in search of promising sites. This is where amateurs come in. Most of the time they find little of archaeological significance, but sometimes they lead archaeologists to important discoveries. There may be some loss of context along the way, but isn't this a price worth paying when an otherwise unknown archaeological site of significance comes to light?