I am Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland for the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). I’ve been in post since 2003 and I spend my time identifying and recording archaeological objects found by the public. The scheme is tied into the Treasure process and is managed by the British Museum. I am lucky as I get to handle lots of really interesting material without having to dig it up! I also have access to lots of experts, so I am constantly improving my knowledge.
I am hosted by the Museum Service of Leicestershire County Council, so I get to do lots of museum events, mount displays and help out with their Archaeology collections.

13 years and counting…..My Dream Archaeology Job.

On Monday 1st August I will be celebrating 13 years as a proper archaeologist – one with a full time job that they love!

Before becoming an FLO in 2003,  I was lucky enough to have a part-time temporary post as a HER (Historic Environment Record) assistant with Leicestershire County Council.  I was in the right place at the right time when the PAS advertised for an FLO for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

I feel extremely lucky to have a job  that I love and that utilises my skills, develops my knowledge  and allows me to explore my interests (which are Vikings, silver stuff, Viking settlements, small finds and coins -ideally those used by the Vikings – but any early medieval material will do!). I love recording peoples finds, interacting with the public and using objects to tell stories about the past.  I  was always interested in history as a child and I got into archaeology because it is tactile. I always knew I wanted to work with small finds and coins. Holding an object that connects you to the past is an amazing experience and one I never tire of.

I started at the Council’s Archaeology dept. as a volunteer in 2000 after completing my Masters degree in Post Excavation Archaeology at the wonderful Leicester University. But I had a very long and twisting journey to get there. I left school at 16 and was lucky enough to get a Y.T.S. (if under 30 – ask a parent) placement in my local museum. Whilst doing this I got the newly introduced G.C.S.E.’s in Photography and Graphics. I then went to art college at 18 (because that was what I was good at at school) to study 3-D design, with a view to becoming a museum designer.

It was whilst I was writing my dissertation on Ancient Egyptian art that I realised all I really wanted to do was be an Archaeologist; preferably one that worked in a museum, because I have always loved museums. I did A level History and Sociology at evening class, worked to save up some money  and  started a degree in Archaeology and History at the University of Wales. It took me 13 years from leaving school to achieving my aim of actually working in Archaeology in 2001. But I don’t regret a moment of it. I developed many transferable skills whilst working, learnt loads of useful stuff doing a joint degree and I still use my art college training regularly.

If you really want to be an archaeologist then just go for it! I know it’s very tough these days and university is crippling expensive. I was extremely lucky- we still had grants in my day and I qualified as a mature student at the tender age of 23!  My advice is to get some experience, volunteer, explore the different roles in archaeology. Find something that excites you. If you can afford to go to university, do a degree that gives you other options, like a science subject that you could apply to archaeology.

I’ll never be wealthy, but I don’t care. I am lucky enough to want to get out of bed and go to work every morning. No amount of money can buy that feeling.

Engaging with the public.

74158_sf1208_42This week has been really busy. As well as my daily work load of identifying and recording objects, I have been helping out with festival events.

On Wednesday my boss,  Helen Sharp, and I were at Harborough museum in Market Harborough. We showed 73 visitors the wonderful Anglo-Saxon grave goods found at West Langton, during and after a Time Team dig in 2012. The objects include this fabulous ‘Bow tie’ brooch, many cruciform brooches and lots of glass and amber beads.

We also had children making their own bead necklaces complete with gold card bracteates, based on our two fabulous ones from Melton Mowbray. These can be seen at Melton Carnegie Museum or read my blog about them  here

Today I am preparing for a finds day at Charnwood Museum in Loughborough tomorrow, where I will be ably assisted by members of the Loughborough Coin and Search Society. I will be on hand to identify and record anything that people may have found and brought along. We will have archaeological objects to handle and the club members will be showing off some of their metal detected finds. People can have a go with a detector and we will be advising them  on best practice and encouraging them to record their finds with the PAS.

A Week in the Life of a FLO (And Her Helpers)

A week in the life of a FLO – Wendy Scott, Leicestershire and Rutland FLO and Rebecca Czechowicz, FLA.

Monday

I added records to the database from an elderly long-term finder. We visited him at home last week and recorded objects found many years ago, before the scheme started here. We obtained accurate locations using maps and had a chat about his best find, a small but significant Viking coin hoard –The Thurcaston Hoard.

Tuesday

More inputting  (it never stops!).  In the run up to the Festival of Archaeology, myself and my manager have a meeting with our press office to plan our press releases. This year we have 73 festival events to promote, including a launch event at Kirby Muxloe Castle with EH (14th July), an event to promote a new Iron age coin hoard going into Harborough museum with coin striking activities (17th July).

We are also plugging two Leicestershire objects being in the final 10 of Britain’s Secret Treasures, an ITV programme highlighting the 50 most important finds made by the public (16th-22nd July).

We have help from a volunteer today. James Kirton is helping us to get all the amazing Bosworth Roman objects onto the database.  Amongst hundreds of brooches, we have 99 horse and rider brooches! Along with coins and other objects; all found as part of the Bosworth battlefield survey.

Wednesday

We have an appointment at Oakham Museum to meet a finder to record her many objects. Rebecca measures and weighs whilst I photograph and identify all the objects. Handily this co-incides with an invitation to visit Time Team filming at Oakham castle. We met up with Danni, FLO for Devon who works for Time Team, and local detectorist Dr Phil Harding who was detecting the spoil for them, to see what they’d found. A local journalist asked the other Dr Phil Harding if he actually did the digging! He was posing for a photo with a spade at the time,  so he replied “What do you think I do with this?”

Our Dr Phil detects the spoil whilst the other one supervises his trench.

Thursday

Downloading and editing photos and researching objects from our recording yesterday, ready to add them to the database.  I have spoken to the finder of the IA hoard. We are arranging a photo opportunity for the press next week, prior to the event and I needed a quote for the press release. I also spoke to colleagues about one of our museums purchasing a treasure case, a medieval finger ring, for their collection. In the afternoon we were all distracted from work by a violent thunderstorm, with flash flooding and hail the size of golfballs!

Friday

Day of Archaeology! Today I am getting on with recording the objects we identified yesterday. I am also preparing leaflets and flyers for the Festival. Before I leave I will be gathering material for a weekend event. Sunday is the annual open day at Burrough Hill fort, Leicestershire’s best Iron Age fort. The University of Leicester are conducting a five year research project there.  We will have the latest finds along with other Iron Age and Roman objects from the area found by detecting and field-walking. We have Iron age Warriors, coin making and I will be on hand to record anything that people bring along.

With the exception of Time Team being in my area, this is a pretty average summer week. There are always more objects to record and input, events to organise and promote and people to see. . . . .

 

FLO work – a 15 year olds perspective

 

My Archaeology Work Experience with Wendy Scott, FLO for Leicestershire,  by Lewis Monkfield (15).

 First Week

Monday – I went to the record office in  Wigston to set up a Viking exhibition, it was ok but maybe because it was my first day I wasn’t that confident to help or do anything. (he was very helpful! WS)

Tuesday – I went to the record office again as I more determined and confident to join in and help out as I knew what was needed. We then finished the exhibition mid-day and went back to County Hall and started on some objects which had to be recorded.

Wednesday – I was at County Hall identifying all the objects and treasure a detectorist found and started weighing, measuring and taking photographs of them. That then took all day and was still unfinished.

Thursday – I then went to Burrough Hill near Melton to do a dig, unfortunately I didn’t find anything but it was an experience to see what it is like for people who do this daily. I did find out that at the top of Burrough Hill there had been a body discovered, unfortunately they didn’t excavate it so I was unhappy. After lunch I met a nice women (ULAS finds officer) who showed us some Iron age and Roman finds. I met another women (Phd Student) who helped me identify bones of various animals and humans and how to tell if they were female or male which was nice of her.

Friday – I  spent all day putting the photographs on the computer and started to crop them ready for adding to the website. I had to do a lot of editing of Roman coins which had to be sent to the British Museum once completed, which took me some time.

 Second Week

Monday – After completing the photos I then had to put them on a database.  I had to describe them and say what age they were. To go with that I had to match the pictures to the objects and add a find spot, this is to show people who look at the database where the object came from.

Tuesday – I went to the archaeology store in Barrow and looked at all the collected items from people. There was a large variety of different things. The things I liked most and fascinated me were the bugs, beetles and birds in the Natural History collection, which were shown to me by Carolyn Holmes the Curator.

Wednesday- In the morning I was again identifying more objects which I didn’t like doing so early in the morning as I was still half asleep. But then when it came to mid-day I went to Melton Museum to set up an exhibition, I liked this as I organised many objects in my own way , also I met  man called Denis Wells (Secretary of Melton and Belvoir Search Society) who is really nice man to let us look at and display his objects. When I looked at it completed it looked really well organised, as we divided each level into a different time period.

Thursday – it was nearly the end of my work experience and for this day I helped Wendy sort out resource boxes and  categorize different period times and materials into their own little section. This was helpful as I learnt a bit more on how to identify what period they are from.  I tried to laminate words to go with the resource boxes and I made a mess, so yet again I had to cut the words again and laminate them. Wendy sent me home early as I was getting stressed!!

Friday – Last day – Today I helped Wendy finish the resource boxes and upgraded the Roman box and finished everything that was needed which was; cutting which I don’t like doing, and laminating which I mastered this time round. Because of my hard work for two weeks I was allowed to leave early as I was a big help to Wendy during work experience.

I have learnt a lot during my two weeks here at the County Council, as it was a challenge for me. I also had a lot of fun during work experience and I have met a lot of people. I also want to thank Wendy Scott for putting up with me for two whole weeks. I am delighted that Wendy has allowed me to see what she does for a living, which is kind of her. This work experience has shown me what she has to do day in day out, which is hard work! But most of all I’m happy that I came here as I have learnt a lot from Wendy.

Lewis digging at Burrough Hillfort

A week in the life of an FLO

A week in the life of a Finds Liaison Officer

By Wendy Scott, FLO forLeicester, Leicestershire andRutland.

Saturday 16th July

My first ‘National Archaeology Fortnight’ event. I am doing an identification session at Melton Mowbray museum today.  During the week I assisted the local detecting and fieldwork groups mount an exhibition for NAF in the Community Showcase. So I have a wonderful backdrop of Roman, Medieval and post medieval metalwork and pottery! I have met two new finders and recorded some good material.

Sunday 17th July

Festival of History!  Today was a very long but very enjoyable day. We always have a stand in the English Heritage marquee and we usually manage to speak to hundreds of people about our work, especially when it rains and they run for cover!  Watching re-enactors of all periods mixing together is quite weird, I’m sure it must confuse the kids! The afternoon dogfight between a Messerschmitt and a Spitfire was cool (obviously the spitfire won!)

Monday 18th July.

Today I am having a well earned rest! I am just in the office to return equipment used over the weekend and to collect a couple of small treasure items which I am passing on to our manager, Roger Bland tomorrow. He will then take them down to the BritishMuseum for the curators to identify and prepare a Treasure report for the Coroner.

Tuesday 19th July

Regional meeting,  BirminghamMuseum. This is when we catch up with each other, discuss issues, organise events etc. Today we had a special treat. We visited the Conservation lab to have a look at Staffordshire hoard objects being cleaned before going on display. They get more amazing the more we see them!  We also said goodbye to Duncan Slarke, Ex West Mids. FLO (the person the Staffordshire hoard was reported to).  Hes off to a new life in Oslo. Lykke til Duncan!

Wednesday 20th July

Today I dealt with Treasure paperwork, passed on purchased Treasure to the Museums staff and took delivery of a medieval gold ring which needs to go through the Treasure system. I spent the rest of the day editing photos (taken at a MD club meeting) ready to add to our website.

This evening I am going to the  launch of   ‘Visions of Ancient Leicester’ A book showing reconstructions based on the last 10 years of extensive excavation in the city.  A large Roman coin hoard,  a treasure case I worked on, recently purchased by Leicester City Musuems.

Thursday 21st July

Today I am trying to get some records on the website. I have a collection of objects including a group of early Medieval metalwork, which has confirmed the location of a long suspected Anglo-SaxonCemetery in the Melton Mowbray area. So as well as adding these to the website I have alerted local Archaeologists who have been wondering where the cemetery might be!  This morning I also processed some Museum Identifications which may or may not end up on the web too.

Friday 22nd July

More data entry today (it never ends!).  I have written a Treasure report for the ring I collected on Wednesday and sent that to the British Museum for checking. I also had the joy of submitting my quarterly financial claim, which always involves fighting the County Council Finance system for a few hours!  Last job of the day was packing my car with Roman material and kids activities for Saturday’s event.

Saturday 23rd July

Meet the experts’ at Harborough Museum. My last NAF event, today we are concentrating on the Iron age and Roman periods to compliment our wonderful Hallaton Hoard display (over 5,000 Iron age coins excavated from a ‘temple’ site). I have been showing people Roman coins and artefacts and getting children to design their own coins. My Colleague Helen Sharp has been teaching people about life in the Iron age and letting people make their own replica coins, always immensely popular!

I’m now off on a camping trip with my extended family, so enjoy ‘Day of Archaeology!