But this he was unable to do, for he received tidings that the French had unexpectedly advanced, and had barely time to remove his own family and valuables from his estate.
On the arrival of the parliamentary forces soon afterwards in Oxford he secreted the Christ Church valuables, and the soldiers found nothing in the treasury "except a single groat and a halter in the bottom of a large iron chest."
They were heaped up, before the beams supporting the central chamber had rotted, thieves made a practice of driving a mine into the mound straight to where the valuables were deposited, and it is only by the collapse of this mine and the crushing of the robber after he had thrown everything into confusion that the treasures of the Chertomlyk barrow, on the whole the most typical, were preserved to us.
The numerous enactments of councils to ensure the proper care of church property, prohibiting the use of churches for secular purposes, for the storing of grain or valuables, for dances and merry-making, do not technically come under the head of legislation against sacrilege.
In the XXIst Dynasty, when tomb robberies were rife and most of their valuables had been stolen, the royal mummies were removed from place to place and at last deposited for safety in the tomb of Amenophis II.
Of the numerous works of art discovered in the course of the excavations the statues and large works of sculpture, whether in marble or bronze, are inferior to those found at Herculaneum, but some of the bronze statuettes are of exquisite workmanship, while the profusion of ornamental works and objects in bronze and the elegance of their design, as well as the finished beauty of their execution, are such as to excite the utmost admiration - more especially when it is considered that these are the casual results of the examination of a second-rate provincial town, which had, further, been ransacked for valuables (as Herculaneum had not) after the eruption of 79.
Before they had had time to secure quarters the soldiers ran out into the streets to see the city and, hearing that everything had been abandoned, rushed to places where valuables were to be had for the taking.