Yes, it’s true. The blog is back after some pretty pathetic attempts in Year 1 to write anything at all. I think the lack of posts had a lot to doÂ with the fact that it’s not that exciting to read or write about collecting and processing data, making little graphs and searching journals for comparative data and I really didn’t want to be boring! But now that I’ve nearly collated all my data, things should get a little more interesting. And if they don’t I can always tell you about how many Roman bikinis have been found in London, about a Roman bog body up north or the Latin nicknames of the animals portrayed in mosaics at Rudston Roman villa….
I know it’s been a long time. I have not been hibernating or spending my AHRC grant on riotous living.
I’m still wading through the PAS Roman coin data and have now looked at more than 20 counties and created Reece profiles for them all*. I’m also now more than just experimenting with Google Maps. At the moment, I’m using it to plot all parishes with more than 20 and fewer than 20 coins and uploading my plots into Google Earth. Just comparing these with Richard Reece’s 140 sites shows how much potential the PAS data has to fill in the gaps. When the Barrington Atlas layers come out things will get even more exciting!
By the end of April I hope I’ll have created a summary nationalÂ picture and then it’ll be time to start looking for patterns….just a small task!
*Avon, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, The Isle of Wight, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Wiltshire
I am still playing with the Hampshire data in anticipation of seeing Richard Reece later this week. I’ve found that there are 16 sites with coin assemblages worthy of further investigation – just look here for a simple plot map of their locations. (I love google maps )
Well, I’ve struggled with spreadsheets and statistics for the past couple of weeks and I am pleased to say that it has all been worthwhile… I now have a county profile for Hampshire…
And what does it tell us about Roman Hampshire? Well, I would love to show you but I appear to have left my memory stick in Leamington Spa. So you will just have to wait.
I have now being at UCL for a week and despite all their attempts to stop me from doing any work, I am just about managing to fit some in around enrolling, fresher’s week and finding my way around London.
On my first day as a PhD student, Sam Moorhead and I spent hours with the Surrey FLO, David Williams sorting a large assemblage of coins found by several detectorists in Hampshire. They come from a watery spring site and as I am interested in all things votive, I was very keen to analyse them. Although we only managed to do some basic sorting, it highlighted the possibilities of regional variation in 4th century reverses. There were several FEL TEMP REPARATIO types (particularly the phoenix on globe and man being dragged from hut) which were reasonably common amongst the Hampshire assemblage but which I had never seen as FLO for the North East or Cambridgeshire. Regional variation is obviously something I am going to be looking into in a great deal more detail.
Anyway, having started with a Hampshire site, it seemed sensible to have a go at making sense of all the Hampshire PAS data. And so I am now trawling through all 3502 records and playing around with them. Watch this space for some results…hopefully quite soon!
And just in case you are really interested, here’s an edited version of my Research Design for the project. As you can see I’ve only got a little bit of work to do!!
1 Summary The 46812 Roman coins recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme Database (PASD) represent an enormous, untapped digital resource. They have the potential to transform our knowledge of coin use and loss throughout the Romano-British landscape and answer wider social and economic questions. This project will unlock their potential, complementing and building upon existing research, most notably that undertaken by Richard Reece (Reece, 1995).
2 Project Aims
This project has three aims: to identify individual coin assemblages and produce graphical and statistical syntheses of these; to interpret the data to explore a range of research questions; and to publish the results as widely as possible.
2.1 To identify individual coin assemblages on the PASD and to produce graphical and statistical syntheses of these assemblages
The first step will assess the quality of coin data on the PASD, and where possible improve existing records. I will identify likely geographical and selection biases in the dataset and put in place processes to correct for these. Once biases have been accounted for, I will then select a number of assemblages from individual sites within target regions. Within these regions, I will employ GIS software to map the geographical distribution of sites, whilst using Reece tables and cumulative frequency analysis to produce chronological site profiles (Reece, ibid). I will also employ a range of other statistical methods including cluster analysis and correspondence analysis (Lockyear, 2000) to explore whether any new, more efficient or more reliable approaches to presenting and comparing the data can be introduced. Coin data will not be studied in isolation from other categories of finds as has traditionally occurred. Where possible, Roman finds records from the PASD will be integrated with the site coin profiles I produce. In this regard, collaboration with Tom Brindle, who is conducting a national study of Roman finds on the PASD will be particularly important. In addition, liaison with researchers who are working on profiling sites through particular artefact types will be invaluable. (Plouviez, forthcoming) The result will be a body of synthesized data from sites across England and Wales which will be comparable to, yet more comprehensive than, Richard Reece’s Roman Coins from 140 Sites (Reece, 1991)
2.2 To interpret the data in order to explore a range of research questions
Using this body of synthesized data, I will be able to undertake comparisons of coins finds from PASD with published data. I will also address a range of research issues, dependant on data quality. These include, but are not are limited to:
|1. Rural religious practice|
|1.1 Identify new temple and votive sites||Identifying potential matches between published temple coin profiles and those of the PASD. Combine with finds data from PASD to identify sites. (see Walton, forthcoming)|
|1.2 Better understand existing temple and votive sites||Add coin data from PASD to information from known sites eg Great Walsingham, Norfolk. This will give a better of understanding of their precise nature.|
|2. Rural coin use and loss|
|2.1 Better understand extent and speed of spread of coin in rural sites|
|2.2 Examine the extent to which rural coin use is related to the presence of the Roman army||Using case study data, apply mapping techniques to investigate the number of Roman coin found at a range of distances from military installations in the early Roman period.|
|2.3 Can PASD be used to identify Roman roads and river crossings||Compare geographical and chronological distribution of coin with known mapping of transport network and highlight areas where this mapping might be updated.|
|2.4 Establish if the PASD provides a more detailed overview of the rural landscape|
|2.5 Attempt to address the question of whether Roman coins were used in any numbers before the Roman invasion|
|3. Late Roman period|
|3.1 Examine whether data supports the theory that coin ceased to be used in the late Roman period in the north and west|
|3.2 Investigate if the Valentinianic coin peak was uniform across England and Wales|
|3.3 Investigate assemblages from different late Roman military regions to determine potential differential coin supply|
|4. Trade and Economy|
|4.1 Investigate whether Byzantine coins recorded by the PASD are post medieval souvenirs or evidence of continuing exchange between Britain and the continent after 410AD||Locate relevant findspots and then establish whether coins have plausible findspots or accompanying finds data of very late Roman or early Early Medieval date.|
|4.2 Investigate hypotheses that there were direct trade links between the eastern Mediterranean and Cornwall and the Irish Sea region||Map coins of different mints and compare their locations to see if clustering occurs. Then cross-reference this to existing published data to look for positive comparisons.|
To present and publish the information in an accessible format and disseminate the information as widely as possible
The results of this programme of research will have wide appeal to academics, professional archaeologists and members of the public. In addition to publishing findings in the traditional manner, full use of the PAS website will be made. Progress reports with profiles of sites will be posted on the relevant pages as they are compiled. Articles highlighting particular aspects of the research will also be contributed to The Searcher and Treasure Hunting to raise the profile of recording Roman coins and the usefulness of the PASD.
Lockyear, K. (2000) Site Finds in Roman Britain: A comparison of techniques Oxford Journal of Archaeology 2000, Vol. 19, no. 4, 397-423
Moorhead, S. (forthcoming) Extending the frontiers: How the PAS Roman Coin Database expands our knowledge of Roman coin use in England in A decade of discovery: A Conference to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, BAR Brit Series
Plouviez, J. (forthcoming) Counting Roman Brooches in A decade of discovery: A Conference to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, BAR Brit Series
Reece, R. (1991) Roman Coins from 140 Sites in Britain, Cotswold Studies, Volume IV
Reece, R. (1995) Site-finds in Roman Britain in Britannia Vol. XXVI, 1991, 180-206
Walton, P. (forthcoming) Finds from the River Tees at Piercebridge in H. Cool (ed.) Excavations at Piercebridge, County Durham
In two weeks time I will be leaving behind my role as a Finds Liaison Officer to start a Phd at UCL studying the huge number of Roman coins recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Having spent several years recording finds and coins, it will be nice to have the time to play around with the data and I hope that I will come up with some very interesting results.
As time goes by, I’ll post my latest results and rambling ideas! Roll on the 21st of September!