Thursday, December 17, 2009

Historian criticizes media over Staffordshire Hoard coverage

A historian has called the newspaper and television coverage of the Staffordshire Hoard discovery "crass and trivial."

In a column for History Today, Justin Pollard, author of Alfred the Great: The Man who Made England and Secret Britain: The Hidden Bits of Our History, decries the media coverage on the find, which was discovered earlier this year near Staffordshire.

Details of the discovery, which date back to the Anglo-Saxon times, were released in September. It has been recently valued at £3.3 million.

Pollard writes, "The newspaper headlines (and even the BBC) chose to cast the find not in terms of the exceptional quality of the metalwork, the unusual selection of items in the hoard or the historical background against which the finds were made. Instead the extraordinary collection was referred to as little more than a lump of gold bullion."

He adds that by emphasizing the monetary value of the gold in the Staffordshire Hoard, the media are encouraging "nighthawks - gangs that ruthlessly raid archaeological sites and protected monuments with metal detectors hoping to find treasure."

Pollard also offers some views about the nature of the Anglo-Saxon hoard itself, writing "it is almost exclusively a collection of 'male' metalwork - military pieces - ... these might be the war trophies of a successful warrior, stripped from the weapons of vanquished foes; they might be the gleanings from one bloody battlefield or perhaps a lifetime's acquisitions."

He ends by stating that the Stafforshire Hoard's importance is in its history, and that "we should be celebrating as the story it may one day tel us will be so much rarer than gold."

Click here for more information about the Staffordshire Hoard.