As a Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) for the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) my job can be quite varied. My day usually starts with emails followed by some research into finds which I am recording before I return them to a local metal detecting club next week. In this week’s batch I have plenty of lead, typical finds for the North West where we have lots of musket balls, lead weights (usually undiagnostic) and plenty of spindle whorls. Although these finds sometimes don’t look interesting by themselves, by recording them on our online database and creating a record which describes the object, with images and an accurate grid reference, we can combine a single record with more than a million recorded objects and this data can then be used in important research helping to advance archaeological knowledge. Also in the batch to return I’ve recorded a medieval copper alloy vessel fragment and a lovely sestertius of Lucilla which was discovered in Flintshire.
As the Day of Archaeology also falls within the Festival of British Archaeology myself and archaeology curators from the Museum of Liverpool will be giving talks at the museum on various topics. So I’m writing this post a day in advance which will free me up to spend my time panicking about public speaking tomorrow! This year marks 20 years of the 1996 Treasure Act coming into force, an Act which resulted in the creation of the PAS and so it seemed an obvious choice for me to choose ’20 years of Treasure and the Portable Antiquities Scheme’ as my topic.
I have been lucky in the North West to have excavated four Roman hoards in the last few years from which we can see how far PAS has come in the last 20 years. So I will be highlighting these hoards and the good practice involved from the finders and of course the Knutsford Hoard will have to have a mention. We have also recorded some really interesting single Treasure finds such as an inscribed silver thimble from Chester and a gold unite found in Salford. It is however important to remember that although all this Treasure is exciting and lovely the grotty broken Roman coins and bits of lead can equally tell us just as much about the past when recorded with a good grid reference and combined with all of our other data so I will finish with a few bits of trusty North West lead (as thanks to PAS data we have learned Cheshire is the spindle whorl capital of England!) and a nod to those who have recorded their finds.
After my talk, I’ll be able to relax a bit and I’m looking forward to listening to my colleagues talks. As a FLO we are usually very busy and concentrate on recording finds non-stop always trying to turn around objects for the next find day or club meeting. So it is great to be able to take a step back by writing a talk to see what our data is telling us and how it has been used in new research. Listening to local talks is also a great way to absorb other people’s research easily. I imagine after my talk there will be some more finds recording and some more emails to reply to as there usually are and once home I look forward to an evening of reading Day of Archaeology blogs.
I have really enjoyed taking part in Day of Archaeology over the last few years and also discovering what so many other archaeologists across the world are up to so thanks to all those behind the scenes for having us and I’m looking forward to the next adventure.