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.
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.
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.
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.
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’!