Dr Natasha Ferguson is the Treasure Trove Unit Officer. Natasha began her career at the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology, University of Glasgow working as a research assistant. Amongst other things this research involved directing and co-directing archaeological investigations of Scottish battlefields as part of community-led projects. This included the Battles of Philiphaugh, Scottish Borders (1645) and Prestonpans, East Lothian (1745), and the Fort William and Inverlochy Project. Another aspect of this role was the post-excavation and analysis of several battle-related assemblages. The most significant of which was the cataloguing of the assemblage recovered from the Battle of Culloden on behalf of the National Trust for Scotland.

Her doctoral thesis was supervised by Dr Tony Pollard, Director of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology. This research aims to assess the impact of unrecorded removal of battle-related artefacts from battlefields and its ramifications to the heritage management of battlefields, whilst also reflecting on their positive contribution through participation in projects and the discovery of previously unknown sites of conflict.

Throughout this research and her work in the Centre, Natasha has worked closely with hobbyist metal detectorists across the UK. This has been an invaluable experience which has greatly informed her current role as Unit Officer which aims to encourage the reporting and accurate recording of battle-related material and to raise awareness of sites of conflict as sensitive archaeological landscapes. Other research interests include heritage management, community archaeology and education in archaeology. Natasha has also worked extensively in schools, developing artefact-based workshops to Primary and Secondary levels.

Natasha has undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in archaeology from the University of Glasgow and NUI, Galway respectively, and has published articles and lectured on subjects including metal detecting, material culture and the cultural heritage management of battlefields.

Treasure Trove: it can’t be shiny all the time

Occasionally a day in the office reading policy documents can be a bit dull. Let’s be honest, it’s too nice a day to be in the office. My archaeological fingers are itching to be outside. But there is work to be done, and actually, there are some pretty great things to be looking at here in the Treasure Trove Unit.

Occasionally a day in the office reading policy documents can be a bit dull

Occasionally a day in the office reading policy documents can be a bit dull

Apart from the usual emails, dealing with reported finds and answering enquires about Treasure Trove, there are two main jobs for today; going over our Code of Practice review and researching some recently reported finds which have been made by members of the public. The first one, let’s be honest, is dull. As archaeologists sometimes it is important to admit that our profession can have boring bits from time to time, whether it’s data entry, backfilling a trench or reading policy documents. It’s not sexy archaeology for sure, but the launch of the reviewed Code of Practice is an important one and will in some cases make some positive alterations to some of our procedures when dealing with the public, archaeologists and museums. What I have to do today is read through it and highlight areas were a change may affect our normal working practice. Yawn!

Researching a 14th century medieval macehead found in the Scottish Borders

Researching a 14th century medieval macehead found in the Scottish Borders

The second part is much more up my street and that’s researching objects. This research forms part of understanding the significance of the object or assemblage and demonstrates why we think it should be claimed as Treasure Trove. You can read more about this process on our website.

Today I am doing some research on a very exciting object, a medieval macehead, which was reported to us last week by a metal detectorist from the Scottish Borders. You can see an image of it on our Twitter feed @TTUScotland #recentTTU

Although quite worn and with a couple of chips it is actually in good condition. Medieval weaponry is fascinating, but chance finds of this kind are relatively rare, so an opportunity to research it further is great. We have already recorded and photographed it, so the next part is to compare it with other examples in published reports or in the NMS collection. With all this to keep me occupied, I don’t even mind being indoors.