PAS

A day to Treasure

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.

LVPL74665E A copper-alloy Roman sestertius of Lucilla (AD 164-169)

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.

LVPL-26EC55 A gold unite of Charles I, (1625-1649).

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.

The Saving Treasures; Telling Stories Project

Shwmae! I’m Rhianydd Biebrach, the Project Officer for the Saving Treasures; Telling Stories Project, which is an HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) funded 5-year project based at Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales, in partnership with the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales (PAS Cymru) and the Welsh Federation of Museums and Art Galleries.

The Saving Treasures; Telling Stories Project Officer in her lavishly-appointed office.

The project is based around treasure and non-treasure objects found by members of the public, most of whom are metal detectorists. Our overarching aims are to enable Welsh museums to acquire metal-detected objects for their collections, and work with detector groups and local communities to engage with and enjoy the material heritage on their doorstep. It’s all about connecting people, objects and places.

The number of treasure finds reported in Wales is increasing year on year, with forty cases in 2016. While we don’t like to think of heritage in terms of its financial value, the stark fact remains that cash-strapped local museums, most of which have faced savage cuts to their budgets in the last few years, are relying on Saving Treasures funding to acquire these objects for the nation.

An early Tudor heart-shaped pendant, discovered in Fishguard and now in the collections of Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales.

We are also supporting local museums with training and advice on their archaeology collections, enabling them to get the most out of the objects in their care, whether they be Bronze Age axes, Roman coins, or medieval jewellery.

A large chunk of our funding is dedicated to the support of six Community Archaeology Projects, each of which will focus on a selection of objects acquired with Saving Treasures funds, drawing in the local community to take part in activities and generating a range of creative responses to the new collection.

A pair of Late Bronze Age Lock Rings from Rossett, now in the collections of Wrexham Museum.

Our first community project has been run by Swansea Museum. It’s based on a small collection of non-treasure finds, dating from the Bronze Age to the post-medieval period, found by a local detectorist on Swansea Bay. Using the objects as inspiration, Swansea Museum has spent the last year working with a diverse range of community groups, to produce artworks, creative writing and Roman costume, and to recreate a medieval pilgrimage, to name but a few. This output will be displayed alongside the objects themselves in a co-curated permanent exhibition.

Unwrapping a Bronze Age spearhead from Swansea Bay.

 

As I write, another community project is about to get underway at Wrexham Museum and Art Gallery, responding to a hoard of Wars of the Roses era gold and silver coins and a 15th century gold and sapphire ring. Hopefully, in next year’s Day of Archaeology blog I’ll be able to report on its successful activities and outcomes.

Examining the base of a 17th century wine bottle found on a beachcomb of Swansea Bay.

 

It’s great being the Saving Treasures Project Officer. Not having come from an archaeological background I’ve had to do some quick learning over the last year, but I love the direct connection with the past that the objects give me, and playing a tiny part in bringing it to life for new audiences.

#FindsFriday for Day of Archaeology

At the Portable Antiquities Scheme many of us who are on Twitter have taken to tweeting a find on Fridays. This can be the best find recorded that week or just an interesting object. So as it is Friday I thought I would blog about some of the #FindsFriday objects I’ve tweeted about during the last year. One of my favorites is LVPL-08F250, a post-medieval coin hoard. Not because of the shiny coins of Elizabeth I and Mary but because of the small associated wooden object. At first, in its uncleaned state, the finder thought it might be from the roots of the tree beneath which he found the hoard but as it looked interesting he brought it in anyway. This small insignificant looking object turned out to be an incomplete wooden sundial probably made in Nuremberg!

LVPL-08F250 wooden sundial, mid 16th century.

LVPL-08F250 wooden sundial, mid 16th century.

LVPL-08F250 one silver groat of Mary, (1553-1554) and eleven silver coins of Elizabeth I, (1558-1603),

LVPL-08F250 one silver groat of Mary, (1553-1554) and eleven silver coins of Elizabeth I, (1558-1603).

Another of my favorite #FindsFriday tweets is this early Iron Age sickle found in Cheshire East and reported to me at the Museum of Liverpool. A very close parallel is a decorated sickle in Norwich Castle Museum, (1959.38), perhaps created in the same mould.

LVPL-23E5CF early Iron Age sickle

LVPL-23E5CF early Iron Age sickle

Finally my last pick for today is this fantastic Iron Age fob/dangler. There is just something about these fob/danglers that I love, perhaps it is the mystery which surrounds their function or simply the fact that its fun to say fob dangler! This one however is the first triangular example found recorded on the PAS database and I’ve not yet found a parallel elsewhere. It is beautifully decorated with openwork and has the type of patina I love.

LVPL-78F55A Iron Age Fob/Dangler

LVPL-78F55A Iron Age Fob/Dangler

Several of the PAS FLOs now tweet about our work but in particular on #FindsFriday so if you are interested in finds check out the PAS database and follow a FLO!

@VOakden_FLO

Finds recording and more

As an archaeologist and a mum of two young children life is very much about juggling at the moment. This year’s Day of Archaeology is my first as a mum of a school going child and so with the arrival of our first lot of school summer holidays I find that tomorrow I will be busy being mum instead of at work in my role as a Portable Antiquities Scheme’s (PAS) Finds Liaison Officer, (FLO). So instead I find myself writing a day early and looking forward to enjoying what others have written tomorrow.

Photographing an early medieval inscribed stone LVPL-018000

Photographing an early medieval inscribed stone LVPL-018000

As the FLO for Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside I visit local metal detecting clubs where I record their finds for the PAS database, finds.org.uk. Here we have over a million objects recorded which can be used by members of the public and researcher’s to advance our archaeological knowledge. Today I had a day in lieu, time off earned from visiting the detecting clubs at night, and spent the time putting the finishing touches on my book ’50 Finds from Manchester and Merseyside’. My deadline is Monday so it was a day of re-numbering images and checking references, not the most fun part of the process.

LVPLD80A36 Medieval Spindle Whorl

LVPLD80A36 Medieval Spindle Whorl

Writing this book has been really interesting as it has allowed me to stop and think about all the objects which I am constantly recording on the PAS database. Metal detecting is a popular hobby and finds recording an interesting job. I love the variety of objects which I get to record and learn about from Prehistory to 1700s, however often I find myself pushed for time and so I record the finds for the next club meeting or museum finds surgery and move on to the next batch and the next deadline. Now I’ve been able to take a step back and have a look at what has been found in Manchester and Merseyside, to put the finds into context and view them as more than just finds but as connections to people and the past.

LVPL-39BCF5 Roman patera handle from Cheshire

LVPL-39BCF5 Roman patera handle from Cheshire

Although I record lots of finds from Cheshire, I also record a huge amount from Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire. Greater Manchester and Merseyside are large urban areas and although there are small pockets of rural land many detectorists venture further afield. I have not recorded many local finds from Manchester and Merseyside and so I’ve had to look a bit harder to find some fantastic objects for my book. By recording finds and accurate find spots we can spot patterns but also voids, for example I realised yesterday there are only 5 Iron Age objects recorded from Merseyside for example.

LVPL-F7E419 Bronze Age flint dagger

LVPL-F7E419 Bronze Age flint dagger

One of those finds is this fantastic flint dagger found near Bolton LVPL-F7E419, it’s a really fantastic object but one which came to me through a chance conversation. The PAS is well known in the archaeological and detecting communities but outside of those groups many people are unaware of what we do. A chance find like this dagger found while out walking could have easily remained unrecorded. So my next challenge is to try and get more local finds recorded, I know there are more local objects out there waiting to be recorded and as I’ve been hearing a lot lately ‘gotta catch em all’!

Finds from Home

Coming from Ireland but working in England I particularly enjoy when finds have a connection with home. Liverpool and Dublin have always had strong links and it should be of no surprise then when objects are handed in for recording on finds.org.uk/database which have been found in the North West and have strong Irish parallels or links.

Tonight I’ve been working on an object which I recorded recently, a rare socketed heeled sickle of Iron Age date, LVPL-23E5CF. The sickle is in three pieces and has been irregularly broken during antiquity. On one face of the object the heal, in line with the socket, is decorated with a squirly circlet decoration. When researching the sickle I found that it is the only socketed example currently on the PAS database. Immediately I contacted my fellow FLOs Peter and Dot who have an interest in the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age. They directed me a similar example in Norwich County Museum which may have been created in the same mould. Then during the course of her research Dot spotted another parallel illustrated on p.14 of P.W Joyce, A Reading book in Irish History. Eager to find out more I emailed the National Museum of Ireland who got back to me straight away with a bit more information about their object. The Irish sickle was discovered in Westmeath and catalogued by William Wilde.

Early Iron Age sickle

Early Iron Age sickle

A spectacular find now in the Museum of Liverpool is the Huxley Hoard, LVPL-C63F8A. A hoard of silver bracelets with flat, punch-decorated bands belong to a well-known Hiberno-Scandinavian type found distributed in areas around both sides of the Irish Sea and produced in Ireland during the second half of the 9th and first half of the 10th centuries. The hoard like that from Cuerdale was probably part of a war chest belonging to the Vikings driven from Dublin by the Irish to settle in the Wirral, Lancashire and Cumbria at the beginning of the 10th century.

The Huxley Hoard

The Huxley Hoard

This mount from Doddington, Cheshire East LVPL-D35B84 is another great example of Irish metalworking and the decoration can be compared to mounts from the ‘near Navan’ hoard for which an eighth-ninth century date was suggested. Again probably brought to England due to Viking activity.

Early Medieval Mount

Early Medieval Mount

Another Irish vessel mount is LVPL1646 recorded in 2000. The stylised staring face and the lavish use of enamel are features characteristic of eighth-century Irish decorative metalwork. Similar anthropomorphic mounts have also been found on Irish bowls and buckets in Norway. As well as vessels, Irish mounts and fittings traveled with the Vikings as loot or traded goods, or possibly as gifts and dowry pieces. While often of no value as bullion, they were appreciated for their decoration, bright gilding and enamel.

Hanging bowl mount

Hanging bowl mount

Objects connect us with people and places and figuring out their stories is a great way to connect us to the past and for me, to home.

My career is in ruins

Peter Reavill at workdigging

A conversation between Peter Reavill, Finds Liaison Officer for Shropshire and Herefordshire and the intern for the  West Midlands, Victoria Allnatt; both of the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme

VA:         Peter, Can you tell me about your career background?

PR:         I always enjoyed history at school growing up in the weald of Kent and loved exploring castles. I undertook a degree in history and archaeology at the University of Wales: Bangor (now Bangor University) where I had an amazing tutor who lured me into studying prehistory. After university I worked in North Wales as an archaeologist, then moved to Cambridge and worked for the Fitzwilliam Museum, then as a cataloguer at the University Library. I was then enticed to Ireland to work on a number of archaeological sites, developing new skills and specialities. After this I worked for number of years with Canterbury Archaeological Trust before undertaking an MA in Landscape Archaeology at University of Sheffield. On graduating I worked again in Kent before being offered the job as Finds Liaison Officer, in 2003. I have been working in the Marches for the PAS ever since.

PR:         What about you Victoria – how did you get into archaeology?

VA:         I studied Archaeology as a mature student. After being made redundant in 2009 it was an opportunity to do something completely different. After college I worked in a travel agency, a hotel, and then in conference and events. History was my favourite subject at school too and after travelling to a number of historical sites in the world I knew archaeology was a topic I wished to learn more about. I thought if it doesn’t lead to a job at least it would be an enjoyable topic to study. I started looking at possible courses in the UCAS prospectus and especially looked for universities with a high intake of mature students (I didn’t want to feel to out of place!) Worcester University and the Archaeology courses especially accept around fifty percent mature students. I was interested in The Archaeology and Heritage Course, the modules included museum studies, British Archaeology and Historical Buildings amongst others. I thought this would give me a broad range of topics which would help when looking for jobs afterwards. As I didn’t have enough credits to attend university I had to write a short essay and then attend an interview with the head of the course at Worcester. Luckily I gained a place and I am so happy I chose to attend university later in life. It meant I tried a lot harder than I would have done at eighteen! I was following a line of women in my family to attend university later in life. Both my mum and my two aunties graduated in their forties. Alongside my studies I also started volunteering with the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Worcester. This proved invaluable for gaining hands on experience with archaeological objects. I now had the opportunity to handle small finds, not just look at them from behind glass!

VA:         How important was having a relevant qualification in obtaining your current job?

PR:         Without an MA – I don’t think that I would have been short listed for my current role. But it isn’t really the piece of paper that makes a difference – it is the experiences that you build up both at university but also in work or through volunteering that really make the difference. The MA was one of the things that opened the door to an interview but once there it gave me the chance to present all my other skills and experiences. Saying that – 12 years ago I was as green as they come and I feel exceptionally lucky to have got this amazing job – especially when I see how amazingly talented many of my colleagues are.

VA:         So how do you get experience?

PR:         That is really tricky as often people want direct and relevant experience and sometimes you only get this by already doing the job. But that shouldn’t put you off – there are lots of ways to fill your CV with ‘relevant’ experience. Today – one of the ways is to volunteer, but to make sure that you make the volunteering work for you by making sure you get out as much as you put in. So for example if you want to work in museums, volunteer and make sure you try everything, from front of house work to handling and recording objects. Alternatively for working on sites – make sure you dig, but also record, draw sections, use specialised equipment etc.

Most importantly keep a diary of the duties you do – it sounds silly but it gives you a way of keeping track so when you apply for the perfect job you already have a tick list to go to of things you can do. Keep examples of your work too for a portfolio to take to interviews – having sat on both sides of the table in interviews – it makes a huge difference to actually see as well as here how brilliant a candidate is.

Finally – think about the other things you have done that give you transferable skills – whether it is temp-ing in a call centre or working in a bar, you pick up useful things that are directly relevant – how you deal with a tricky situation or the all-important health and safety question which is in almost all interviews. For me when I worked as a cataloguer in a library – it had nothing to do with archaeology, but gave me transferable skills using computerised databases, creating catalogue entries and dealing with the public – all these are relevant to what I do now (I just didn’t know it at the time)

VA:         Big answer – small question :  here’s another – is it beneficial to specialise in a particular area?

2013-T495_X-Ray_plan (1)PR:         It depends: I think it is often better to have several areas of interest rather than just the one, so using me as an example: I’m a heritage professional / landscape archaeologist, with an interest in small finds (metalwork). However, I have detailed knowledge about prehistoric metalwork and specialise in Bronze Age metalwork. But given the employment market I think that having many strings to your bow is as useful – and maybe more useful – than just being very good at one thing. We as a profession desperately need more specialists – the problem is that there isn’t always a full time job for them!

PR:         So what about you – are you developing a specialist interest?

HESH-A74856
VA:        
I like the Romans, somebody has to! I like Roman architecture and have enjoyed recording Roman brooches on the PAS database. Not so much Roman coins! But through practice and training I am getting to grips with identifying them. I really loved researching ethnicity in Romano Britain as part of my undergraduate dissertation. It was interesting to learn that the country at the time would have been a lot more multi-cultural than the old text books would have us believe.

But ultimately to get back to answering the question! At the moment in the early stages of my career I am trying to keep my interests and skills broad. It is not the easiest time to find employment in the archaeology sector so I think the more skills I can develop the easier it may be to find work, I hope anyway!

PR:         and more generally, you have been an intern with us for more than six months – what has been  your favourite part of the internship so far?

VA:         I have loved handling small finds and never knowing what is going to be brought in to the office next. The element of surprise and that no two days are the same. I have also been lucky to attend lots of training sessions such as Roman coin identification training, GIS training and in the near future I am attending a photography training course and a Roman Radiate coin identification day

PR:         and – the worse bit?

VA:        Although it is exciting to see so many objects it can also feel like you are never getting to the bottom of the pile! Of course we want metal detectorists to keep bringing in their finds, however sometimes it feels like you will never clear your to do list!

VA:        what is your favourite part of being an FLO?

Prehistoric finds Acquired through Treasure Act - Shrewsbury MuseumPR:        The variety of my working life, I’m able to meet with lots of different people, record really interesting finds, visit new sites and sometimes excavate them, undertake new research and analyse the landscape in new ways through the losses of people in the past. Also when Shrewsbury Museum had its move and redisplay – suddenly all the objects they had acquired through the Treasure Act were put on display across the museum – it was like visiting old friends again – and you can see the difference you have made to the archaeological record and history of a county

VA:         and likewise – the bit you dislike most?

PR:         that is tricky, like most jobs there are always bits you dislike – I suppose if I had to choose a least favourite part it would be … probably the mundane aspects of manipulating digital images of finds or filling in paperwork. I’m rubbish at filing and keeping things tidy! I tend to like most aspects of the finds work – although I’m always fearful of pottery – you really need to be a specialist in the local fabrics – and after 12 years I’m still getting to grips with them.

PR:         OK – there must be something that you have recorded that you are amazed by – what is your favourite find?

HESH-408A03VA:        ooh, well just recently we have seen an Iron Age Gold quarter Stater. As they are gold they come out of the ground almost looking brand new, so you know you are seeing it how the original owner would have seen it over 2000 years ago. Besides the shiny objects, I also like the more ordinary items that tell a story, for instance the ring that was made from a coin found on the site of a prisoner of war camp. You start to think about who that person was that made it.

VA          And you must have seen some stunning things – what’s yours?

HESH-4844A4 detail 1PR:         That’s a hard one – there have been some brilliant things – I really like the Iron Age spoons reported through Treasure from Nesscliffe and the West Shropshire early Medieval Pendant. Another favourite is the pendant made from a Viking die used to create gold foil mounts– that is very cool

PR:         You’ve been working with the three FLO’s in the West Mids – what is the best bit of advice you have been given?

VA:        I have been given so much encouragement and support to try my hand at many things, for example writing an article for a specialist Metal Detectorists magazine or help deliver a class to school children on Prehistory. I guess it’s been the advice to give anything a try, it is all good experience and builds a diverse portfolio of work. I may not have had the confidence to give some of these things a go without the support and encouragement from the West Mids FLO’s.

VA:         I’m lucky being able to turn to the three FLOs in the West Mids for advice – but where do you turn to for advice?

PR:         I said before – that I work with some amazing people within the PAS – whether it is National Finds Advisers, the central office team, or other FLOs – there is always someone there to ask for help or advice. When it comes to objects – as the Scheme is run from the British Museum – we have access to their curators as well as other researchers – so actually it is often a matter of thinking who best it is to ask – rather than trying to find someone.

PR:         we are almost done – as your internship finishes in October – where do you hope this internship will lead?

VA:         I hope it will lead to a full time Finds liaison Officer position or maybe an assistant museum curator’s role. Or perhaps a part time position so I can complete a part time Master’s course.

PR:         and what happens if the unexpected happens to your chosen career path – not that it will?

VA:        I hope I have developed a broad range of skills now such as handling small finds, report writing, assisting with the creation of museum displays, blogging and online social media and photography.  It is hoped these skills will find me a position somewhere, or I could volunteer on some digs and maybe turn to fieldwork – but I do enjoy small finds work.

VA:         and Peter – what is next for you?                                           

PR:         Who knows – it depends who rings up or drops in with the next bag of finds – I love my job with the PAS and hopefully we will be able to weather the impending spending reviews. It would be a national scandal is the PAS didn’t continue for the next twenty years – we are now seeing the rewards from working closely with the metal detecting community and are gathering amazing data on finds which really does change the history books. Regional, County and community led museums are also benefiting from the scheme acquiring treasure and other finds – many of which are now being donated to them by members of the public.

I also hope to continue researching the finds and landscape of my area – and writing those results up (something I’m bad at) so that others can see the full impact of my – and others work.

For more information about the PAS: https://finds.org.uk/ 

And if you would like to volunteer with us visit: https://finds.org.uk/getinvolved

or Victoria’s Blog on her internship: https://victoriaallnattinternship.wordpress.com/

You can also follow Peter on Twitter: https://twitter.com/PeterReavill

Go with the FLO

Today started much earlier than usual (8.45 – I am not a morning person!) as I was asked to give a talk to my colleagues at Northamptonshire Record Office. Newly based at the Record Office, my new colleagues wanted to know what it is that I do.

I love giving talks, its one of the best parts of my job. I get to sit and pull together all the information that has been collected, and then communicate it to members of the public who never knew what they never knew about their local history! Every artefact is like a small piece of a huge jigsaw and over time you see more and more of the bigger picture. The problem is that I have so much to pack into a hour long speech, its hard to cover everything and keep on time. I can easily do an hour each on medieval seal matrices, Roman brooches, Medieval Northamptonshire, the Treasure Act, PAS in general.

The talk focussed on how I process finds, the 1996 Treasure Act and interesting finds from Northants. Some of my favourite finds are the ones that I have had the chance do do a little extra research on.

The first case study was the seal matrix recorded on the PAS database as LVPL-E6AA83 (treasure number 2013 T39), found near Barnwell and acquired by Oundle Museum. The inscription reads BERENGAIVS. Barnwell had three Berengar’s associated with it, all members of the la Moine family. This seal dates to the 13th century, and so is unlikely to belong to the first Berengar, who died before 1166. The second Berengar had a very short succession, dying in his father’s lifetime between 1166 and long before 1248, when his son deceased. Therefore, although it could have belonged to the second Berengar for a short period, the higher likelihood is that this silver seal belonged to the Third Berengar, who appears to have become known in local legend as ‘Berengar the Black’.

‘Berengar the Black’ was Keeper of the Peace in Huntingdonshire in 1267 and went to the Crusades to escape debt in 1270. He rebuilt Barnwell Castle in 1266, but without permission from Edward I and so was forced to sell it to the Abbot of Ramsay in 1276. He died before 1286.

The great thing about using this seal matrix as an example in a talk to a room full of archivists was that we were able to show some partnership working. In the Record Office archives was the original conveyancing document (Record Office ref: YZ 3487 – image attached, copyright Northamptonshire Record Office) for the enforced sale of the castle to the Abbot of Ramsey. The document had Beregar’s personal seal attached. Disappointingly the seal does not match up with the one acquired by Oundle Museum, but it was not unusual for one person to have more than one personal seal in his or her lifetime, so it could still be his. How exciting!

I’ll try to get round to writing some shorter posts about some other interesting case studies I used in my talk.

But for the rest of the day, I’ll be catching up on some emails and recording a box of 20+ finds from one finder so I can get them back to him next week. No treasure in there – some Roman coins, a saxon strap end, some Post-Medieval buckle fragments – but all important parts of the jigsaw. They are all bagged up individualy with a 10 figure grid reference written on each bag. A text book example of best practise!

But first, a coffee!

An Early Bronze Age flat axe

Dot Boughton showing finders a flat axe from Lancashire

Dot Boughton showing finders a flat axe from Lancashire

Hi,

this is my first post and I think what’ll be doing today (mostly) is axes! I have some finds to write up (will tell you about those later) and a flat axe to record, though I might not get the record done as report deadlines are looming, too, eeeeeek!

I gave a talk at South Ribble Museum last week and a member of the public handed in this flat axe (see image) which two of my metal detectorists (who came to the talk) and I discussed at great length. The axe was found in the Charnock Richards area, but the Iain and Sheila normally go detecting in the Chorley area and although they have found loads of lovely Roman and medieval artefacts, Bronze Age artefacts have so far been scarce!

 

 

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.

The Bitterley Hoard: Part Seven – Concluding thoughts

The Portable Antiquities Scheme logo

 

 

 

And in the end …

Visitors to the hoard site in the rain

The discovery, reporting, excavation, investigation and analysis of this hoard have taken over a year. In that time a detailed picture has evolved which has shed new light on events that happened more than 300 years ago. Coin hoards from the Civil War are relatively common with several known for each county in Britain; so many hoards show the upheaval and underlying worry of the general population. This urgency and unrest can be seen in Bitterley hoard – where the only direct archaeological evidence for the placing of the hoard in the ground– is the hoard itself. The excavation showed that the burying of the hoard was relatively quick – in a prepared container. The local events that caused the hoard to be buried are unknown but the fact that they were never retrieved suggests that something happened to the owner and unfortunately their loss has been our gain.

I would like to thank all the people involved in this treasure case – as well as those who have helped tell the story so far. I would like to say a special thankyou to the farmer – for giving us access to his land and also (most importantly) to the finder – Howard Murphy – who did the right thing in leaving the coins in the ground and calling in the PAS. He has enabled us to piece together a remarkable story. I hope this will inspire other detectorists to do the same when they make their next big find!

Peter Reavill

29th June 2012