Peer's Iron-Age Sale Triggered Theft Inquiry
Mackinnon, Ian, The Independent (London, England)
A five-year investigation into the origin of the most significant Iron and Bronze Age find in Britain was triggered when Lord McAlpine, the former treasurer of the Tory party, sold part of his collection to the British Museum, a jury was told yesterday.
Lord McAlpine unwittingly became involved in a trail of deception when he bought 20 miniature Iron Age shields which had been dug up in a huge find in a Wiltshire field without the permission of the owner, Knightsbridge Crown Court was told. The two men who discovered the Salisbury Hoard, using metal detectors, were arrested in 1993, eight years after the find. A third man, a dealer, who had bought most of the 500 pieces for about pounds 10,000, a fraction of their value, was also arrested.
James Garriock, 42, and Terence Rossiter, 47, both from Salisbury, deny stealing the artefacts in 1985. John Cummings, 48, from Grantham, Lincolnshire, denies handling stolen goods.
Jonathan Laidlaw, for the prosecution, told court that the hoard of weapons, tools and jewellery had been buried more than 2,000 years earlier, possibly as a pagan sacrifice.
He said that Mr Garriock and Mr Rossiter had been searching the field near Netherhampton, which belonged to the late Reginald Cook, without permission, even though Mr Rossiter had five years earlier given a written undertaking not to excavate the land following the discovery of a collection 13 silver coins.
However, both men went back and made the discovery in what had once been an Iron Age settlement. They removed the items to Mr Garriock's home, where they were photographed. …