Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Human Sacrifice in a Leicestershire Field? Narrativising a Romano-British TOT ring

The Leicester Mercury reports that:
    A rare silver ring dedicated to the bloodthirsty Celtic god Totatis has been unearthed near the site of the Hallaton hoard of Roman and Iron Age coins[…]  in a field in south Leicestershire by metal detectorist Bill Martin […] from Wolverhampton.

The photo (from the Leicester Mercury) makes it look as if the ring has been wire-brushed after finding, has it?

It was found when the site was being searched by the Bloxwich Research and Metal Detector Club, from the West Midlands. Mr Martin was not learning about the history of his own locality, he'd driven some 88 km to metal detect in a field several counties away. Once again we see the sites where nationally important treasures have been located being targeted by other artefact hunters, counting on the discovery of similarly valuable finds. Surely these sites and the areas around should be protected from such cynical exploitation? Anyway somebody is happy that this object has been hoiked out of the ground:

    Totatis ring expert Adam Daubney, of Lincolnshire County Council, is compiling a survey on them saying the vast majority are found in Lincolnshire. He said: "It is great to see another example turn up within the boundaries of the Corieltavi tribe. This makes it the 74th example on my database." A Leicestershire County Council spokesman said […] "It's probable Totatis was worshipped at Hallaton as he was one of the main deities and is often equated with Roman god Mars." The Roman poet Lucan said devotees indulged in human sacrifice, plunging victims head first into a vat of liquid until they drowned.

The PAS seems to have a fixation with human sacrifice doesn't it? I really would like to see to "Totatis expert" Daubney discuss the actual, real evidence for these statements. It seems to me that here we have just another example of the dumbed-down "scissors and paste history" that the PAS seem to specialise in. We have an attempt to give decontextualised artefacts some "narrative value" by ignoring (because non-existant in the case of hoiked-out dugups) by mix-and-matching with classical and Medieval (in this case) texts. But done in a way totally ignoring modern source-criticism and the methodology of using such texts in modern Classical historiography. First of all, the name of the 'god' discused by Lucan was not "TOTatis".