I am Finds Liaison Officer for Somerset. I have been working for the Portable Antiquities Scheme for about 5 years, 3 years of that in Sussex.
I enjoy the range of finds I see in my job and the fact I never know what will come in next. Like a lot of FLO's I am a generalist rather than specialist but i have spent more time than some working on Medieval coins.
In case you're wondering I do occasionally get to see an interesting find, and I mean generally interesting, not 'why I think James I halfgroats are really interesting' interesting. and you can read about some of them here: http://finds.org.uk/blogs/somerset/ and here: http://finds.org.uk/blogs/sussex/.
Well the database has unfortunately been rather overloaded this afternoon, either that or our local servers have been playing up, so it has not been possible to record as much. Luckily there are always a host of other jobs waiting in the wings including replying to finders emails to set up meetings, giving conservation advice to finders, discussing internships and volunteering opportunities, helping people with Medieval coin ID’s and reading through and commenting on reports and articles and, of course, taking photos of the finds I did get done today.
I didn’t get to the lovely half crown of Charles I or the 17th century token farthing from Bridgwater but at least working on the photos means you can see an image of one of them:
So a very unexciting day in the life, sorry, but it is from the small building blocks larger constructs are made and those Roman coins may help pinpoint and understand the periods of occupation for a new Roman site, sometime in the future.
Great, that’s the eight Roman coins done. No exciting ones I’m afraid. Maybe I should do the artifacts next and save that large silver coin of Charles I as a treat for later. Standard FLO kit for recording: digital calipers, accurate but portable scales, magnifying lens, bags and pens for labeling and the essential books for references.
A nice interruption over coffee when the museum curators show off their latest acquisition, bought at auction yesterday. It is a bell from the house at Chapel Cleeve (the contents of the house were dispersed at auctions in the 1980s). It was cast in the 19th century by the founders Cox’s of Taunton who were based at Tancred street in Taunton and also made skillets (some are on display at the Museum of Somerset). They were not specialist so didn’t (as far as we know) cast church bells. This is the sort of bell that would have been used to call the estate and house workers in for meals and let them know the time so it does not need to ring to a particular note. Unfortunately the clapper is missing so I can’t let you hear how it sounded.
I’m hoping today will be quite quiet on the email / phone call front as Fridays often are, allowing me to get on with some finds. I’m afraid it makes for quite a boring day in the life, but the worn Roman coins and Post Medieval buckles are more representative of a FLO’s lot than shiny gold treasure, unfortunately.
I start the day with a discussion with a colleague about a new idea to possibly draw together a group of finds to make a short publication, however that will need to wait until my own time so I am trying to be good, put it to one side and focus on my proper work for the day.
I’m working on a group of finds from one finder. He is a metal detectorist so mostly metal finds but he also picks up pottery when he sees it. Helpfully he has bagged each find and labelled them with the field they came from and the date he found them. I start by checking them against the receipt to see that I have everything I should. As a FLO people put huge trust in us when they lend us their finds for recording and losing a find is one of every FLO’s worse nightmares.
Then I group them into piles. I realise some of the pot was put away slightly wet and although the bags were pierced it has still grown some mould so I get them out to dry off.
Normally I would finish the records and photograph the items before promoting them to public view but today I hope to promote them as I go along so you can see the progress. I’ll see if I can work out how to post the links to them but in the meantime just looking at www.finds.org.uk/database and searching under SOMERSET as the county should bring up the most recent things recorded.