Recording finds in Chester

Early Medieval Strap End

Early Medieval Strap End

I am the Portable Antiquities Scheme’s Finds Liaison Officer for Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside, and today I was visiting the Grosvenor Museum in Chester where I hold finds day on the second Friday of each month.

My day started well with a queue of three visitors as soon as the doors were open. The first finder was a local metal detectorist who frequently records his finds on the PAS database. His grandson had found a Post-Medieval signet seal ring combined with a pipe tamper, similar to this example LVPL-A563A1. After writing out a receipt for the object the finder left and was followed by a local field walker who had brought me a bag of stones. Although they ‘fitted in his hand’ the stones had not been worked and upon further investigation I discovered they had been found near a river which explained the amount of wear. It was a relief not to have to carry them all away with me!

A couple more visitors came and went with small objects to add to our knowledge of the local area. Next came a detectorist who I had not see in a while. He showed me an object which his wife had found a number of years ago. This had been recorded by my colleague as a Post-Medieval drawer handle as it has very similar qualities. The record can be found here LANCUM-2D85A8.

The finder then explained he had just gone back to the same field and found a long curving pin which he took out. After having a ‘Eureka’ moment he had realised that his pin was the same greyish green patina as his wife’s object and asked her to dig it out of their box of unidentified finds. It was a perfect match and a Post-Medieval drawer handle suddenly turned into an Iron Age pin! The pin is similar to the swan necked type which date from 300BC to AD50. He also brought a lovely thumb-nail scraper and a 14th century seal matrix for me to record.

Following these exciting finds there was a bit of a break between visitors allowing me to catch up on Photoshop, the less exciting side of my role. My last visitors of the day was a married couple who detect locally and are keen to record their finds. Having showed me a group of interesting finds the previous month, I had asked them if they would allow me to display their finds in the new PAS case which will be in the Museum of Liverpool from next month. They were happy to loan their objects to us for six months and had brought them in along with a couple of new discoveries. They have found a number of Early Medieval finds including this lovely strap end LVPL-D1295B and this Early Medieval buckle LVPL-BFBC1E


Both of these objects are unusual finds for the Cheshire area where we don’t see many Early Medieval objects. However these new records are starting to show interesting patterns of activity. You can see their finds from next month at the Museum of Liverpool and after a bit of Photoshop in the office next week the pin will be available to view here.

Post Excavation

Having now completed my report on the medieval floor tile from Bicester Priory, today I am largely writing up ends of watching briefs and reading through specialist reports from other sites in the course of being written up; I’ll also be getting together some text and plans for Linzi Harvey, the osteologist who is looking at 24 Roman individuals excavated at Dorchester-on-Thames

Later on today, I hope to go out on site to a watching brief at Folly Bridge, Oxford, from where i’ll be uploading some photographs

Engaging with kids, and tea with the vicar!

Well, I’ve finally had chance to breathe after a hectic morning…

I run a small company (Archaeology for Schools Ltd) which essentially teaches children from Key Stages 2 onwards, the basic principles of archaeology in a fun and engaging way. We usually tap into their current history topic, and so we jump between Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Egyptian archaeology. As well as this, I am currently exploring a number of different ways of getting young people more interested and involved in their local heritage, as well as writing a few academic pieces!

This morning was an 8am start in Chester, getting some photographs for a new project I am involved in (top secret!) followed by a meeting with the Vicar of St. Johns, Chester who incidentally has a degree in Egyptology and has dug a number of Ramesside period sites in Egypt (not your normal man of the cloth!). Our meeting was loosely about helping St Johns to engage with more schools. It’s one of the most stunning and unusual churches in the UK, but seems to get easily overshadowed as it sits beside Chester’s Roman amphitheatre. The real bee I have in my bonnet at present, is that the public’s perception of archaeology is all about excavation, which is widely inaccessible to most. Fieldwalking, landscape archaeology, records offices, maps and old buildings have as much to reveal about the past as excavation, and are all widely available and largely free. I’m amazed by how many people I know who purport to be interested in history or archaeology,  but have not took the time to walk around their local parish church…..rant over!!

School holidays are with us now, so I am using the time to do some of my own landscape fieldwork, having got hold of some nice LIDAR data-sets to play with. I’m also spending an hour today writing a proposal and a quote for a potential new customer.