News from the Scheme

Crowd-sourcing Britain’s Bronze Age. A call for the public to help catalogue and model prehistoric artefacts

Published: 10 hours, 2 minutes ago Author:

The MicroPasts logoHelp the British Museum to catalogue and model a fantastic collection of Bronze Age metal artefacts

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

The project team, co-led by Andrew Bevan (UCL) and Daniel Pett (BM), have photographed hoards of Bronze Age (ca. 2500 BC - 800 BC) metal objects and scanned thousands of paper records of further metal artefacts from British prehistory. They are now asking for public assistance in modelling, transcribing and locating these archaeological finds via a dedicated "crowd-sourcing" website (http://crowdsourced.micropasts.org/). The website is powered by the open source Pybossa citizen science framework.

Neil Wilkin, the curator of Bronze Age collections at the British Museum, is seeking online help from anyone interested in British prehistoric archaeology in researching and enriching our knowledge of the first national catalogue of Bronze Age objects in the UK. This record contains over 30,000 Bronze Age tools and weapons that were discovered during the 19th and 20th centuries, and complements the current Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) database of metal object finds.

The catalogue contains index cards detailing object find spots and types, alongside detail line drawings and a wide range of further information about the object's context of discovery. The catalogue itself also has a long and special history. It was a major archaeological initiative first founded in 1913 and then moved to the British Museum in the 1920s. For over 70 years, it represented the highest standards of Bronze Age artefact studies.

"This information has long been known to be an extremely important untapped resource," says curator Wilkin, "Metal finds are not only crucial forms of evidence for dating Britain's prehistoric past, but also tell us a great deal about prehistoric society and economy. Once we have digitised the thousands of objects in this catalogue, they can be incorporated into the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) website. The result will be the largest national database of prehistoric metal finds anywhere in the world and a near-comprehensive view of what we currently know about such finds in the UK. This will allow rethinking of almost everything we currently know about the use of metal in Bronze Age Britain, giving us a far more comprehensive view of our prehistoric past."

A further goal is to create a large series of research-quality 3D models of some of the fantastic Bronze Age metal objects held in the British Museum's collections. Neil and the MicroPasts team will be developing high quality 3D models of a selection of bronze axes recorded in the card catalogue, via the same crowd-sourcing platform. Today, these models can easily be constructed from ordinary digital photographs, but an important step in creating a really good model is to identify the outline of the object in each photograph. The team are asking for anyone with an interest in these prehistoric artefacts or modern digital methods to help via the crowd-sourcing platform. The resulting 3D models will not only enable us to better visualise the artefacts, but will also encourage new forms of scholarship. By exposing, for example, tiny differences in object style, we will gain new insights into how, where, and when these objects were made.

All the project's data will be made publicly available under an open licence so that anyone can use it: whether to share, discuss and protect local finds via the enhanced catalogue, to conduct their own archaeological research, or to make use of 3D models in computer-based environments and games. UCL researchers, Chiara Bonacchi and Adi Keinan-Schoonbaert, add that these two crowd-sourcing applications will be followed by further public collaborations both in the UK and elsewhere, and they hope that this project will start a different kind of discussion about how we research our collective past.

Notes to editors:

The MicroPasts initiative (http://micropasts.org) is a collaboration between University College London and the British Museum, and has been funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, under the Capital Funding Call for Digital Transformations in Community Research Co-Production in the Arts and Humanities. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) (http://www.ahrc.ac.uk) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.

The current crowdsourcing project with Bronze Age metal finds is the first of several planned projects. These will be a valuable opportunity to study and understand the value of crowd-sourcing in bringing together traditional academics, organised volunteer societies and other members of the public to create high-quality research data in archaeology, history and heritage. The MicroPasts crowd-sourcing platform is built using an open source Pybossa infrastructure (http://pybossa.com/).

Thousands of archaeological objects are discovered every year, many by members of the public, particularly by people while metal-detecting. If recorded, these finds have great potential to transform archaeological knowledge, helping us understand when, where and how people lived in the past. The Portable Antiquities Scheme (http://finds.org.uk/) offers the only proactive mechanism for systematically recording such finds, which are made publicly available on its online database. This data is an important educational and research resource that can be used by anyone interested in learning more. The Portable Antiquities Scheme is managed by the British Museum, and funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport through a ring-fenced grant, the British Museum and local partners. Its work is guided by the Portable Antiquities Advisory Group, whose membership includes leading archaeological, landowner and metal-detecting organisations.

The UCL Institute of Archaeology not only has interests in promoting Bronze Age British archaeology, but also in computer- and web-based methods in archaeology, history and heritage. This project fits well with computational approaches that are offered at Masters and PhD level at the Institute as well as complementing several other initiatives such as the UCL Centre for Audio-Visual Study and Practice in Archaeology (CASPAR).

For further information and images
Hannah Boulton on 020 7323 8522 or hboulton@britishmuseum.org

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British Archaeological Awards 2014

Published: Tuesday 4th February 2014 Author:

Nominations for the 2014 British Archaeological Awards are now open!

The British Archaeological Awards are a showcase for the best in UK archaeology and a central event in the archaeological calendar. Established in 1976, they now encompass five awards and two discretionary awards, celebrating every aspect of UK archaeology.

The purpose of the Awards is to advance public education in the study and practice of archaeology in all its aspects in the United Kingdom, and in particular by the granting of awards for excellence and/or initiative.

The 2014 British Archaeological Awards will take place on Monday, 14th July 2014 at the British Museum and is one of the key events of the CBA's Festival of British Archaeology, a huge UK-wide celebration of archaeology with more than 650 events, attended by more than 250,000 people. Every year, the Festival gains huge national TV, radio, newspaper and magazine coverage.

Nominations are being invited in the following categories:

· Best Archaeological Project

· Best Community-engagement Archaeology Project

· Best Archaeological Book

· Best Public Presentation of Archaeology

· Best Archaeological Innovation

Please visit the new website for the British Archaeological Awards at www.archaeologicalawards.org.uk where you can find full details on the criteria for each award, along with a downloadable nomination form. For your convenience, this year there is also the facility to complete the nomination form on-line. Nominations will close on Friday, 28th February 2014.


If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact Sarah Howell:


Administrator for BAA

c/o Robert Kiln Charitable Trust

15a Bull Plain

HERTFORD
SG14 1DX

01992 554962
robertkilntrust@btconnect.com

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Over 920,000 archaeological finds found by the public now recorded

Published: Thursday 16th January 2014 Author:

The balsamarium from kentToday Ed Vaizey (Minister for Culture) and Neil MacGregor (Director of the British Museum) launched the latest Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and Treasure annual reports. These celebrate the public contribution to archaeology, through the recording of objects and coins (from all historical periods) found by ordinary members of the public.

Over the last 15 years more than 920,000 archaeological finds have been recorded by the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme for the advancement of archaeological knowledge. In the same period over 8,500 finds have been reported as Treasure, enabling the most important finds to be acquired by museums across the country. In 2012, 73,903 finds were recorded by the PAS, and 990 Treasure cases reported.

This contribution to archaeology and the public fascination with archaeological finds is highlighted by the success of ITV's Britain's Secret Treasures. A second series was screened prime-time on ITV1 from 17 October and was seen by an average of 2.8 million viewers The broadcast was accompanied by the publication of a book on series 1 and 2.

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum said

"the Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure Act have revolutionised archaeology, ensuring that finds found by ordinary members of the public are rewriting history. Many of the most important finds have ended up in museum collections across the country, thanks to the generosity of funding bodies. The PAS is a key part of the British Museum's nationwide activity to support archaeology and museums through its network of locally based Finds Liaison Officers (FLO). The Museum is committed to the long-term success of the scheme.

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, said:

"It is always fascinating to hear about the extraordinary archaeological discoveries found by members of the public, and the Portable Antiquities Scheme has helped revolutionise how this contributes to our archaeological knowledge. Thanks to all those working across the scheme our history is being shared more widely, with many museums now displaying the most important finds."

Four new discoveries are to be highlighted at the launch this year:

Rare Anglo-Saxon hoard of silver jewellery and coins from Norfolk

(2012 T319 / NMS-972E58) Third quarter of 9th century AD.
This hoard consists of 23 silver pennies, four silver brooches and two silver strapends. All the coins were minted in the name of Edmund, King of the East Angles (r. 855-869/70); later venerated as St Edmund. Edmund's reign saw the beginning of large-scale Viking attacks on England, with the arrival of a 'great raiding army' in East Anglia in 865. The Vikings returned to East Anglia in 869, and the burial of the hoard may well have been connected with one of these events. On the latter occasion, Edmund himself was captured by Danish Vikings, then tortured, bound to a tree and shot with arrows, and decapitated. According to legend his head, which called out to those who searched for it 'here, here, here', was found being guarded by a wolf. Bury St Edmunds, still honours his name.

Intriguing Roman hoard of silver jewellery and coins from Knutsford, Cheshire

(2012T406) 2nd century AD. In May 2012 Alan Bates found half a dozen Roman silver coins while metal-detecting. Realising the importance of his discovery he stopped detecting and contacted his local FLO for help. Subsequently the find spot was excavated by a team of archaeologists from the National Museums Liverpool and Cheshire Archaeological Advisory Service, with the FLO, and further coins and objects were recovered. The coins consist of 101 silver denarii and 2 copper-alloy sestertii, the latest dating to c.190-1. The objects, including three magnificent silver-gilt trumpet brooches, two rosettes, two silver finger-rings with red stones, and vessel fragments, also date to the second-century AD. This hoard was likely to have been buried for safety, but it is not known why its owners never returned for it

Imposing post-medieval silver ewer from Kingston Russell, Dorset

(DOR-D03CB6 / 2013 T476) AD 1635-6 Although of simple form , this ewer remains an impressive piece, with its large curving handle and spout. The object is decorated with four hall marks, which help date the object to 1635-6: PB in a shield with two crescents' (the maker's mark), leopard head, lion passant, italic letter S in shield (date letter). It was found by three friends while metal-detecting. The ewer is an unusual find, but represents the simple shapes and plain surfaces in the Dutch style favoured in English silver in the 1630s; a more austere taste after Tudor and Jacobean exuberance.

Beautiful Roman copper-alloy balsamarium (vessel) from Petham, Kent

(KENT-7D72A7) 3rd century AD. Probably made to hold oil this handsomely made vase is decorated with relief scenes a satyr and three male human figures, who carry vessels, playing music and dance. It is probably Gallo-Roman in origin, being exported to Kent from France. The object has been damaged, possibly by contact with agricultural machinery and therefore it was fortunate it was saved from the plough. Otherwise in very good condition. The landowners have lent the vase to Canterbury Museums and Galleries so it can be enjoyed by all.

Notes to Editors:

Thousands of archaeological objects are discovered every year, many by members of the public, particularly by people while metal-detecting. If recorded, these finds have great potential to transform archaeological knowledge, helping us understand when, where and how people lived in the past.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme (http://finds.org.uk) offers the only proactive mechanism for systematically recording such finds, which are made publicly available on its on-line database. This data is an important educational and research resource that can be used by anyone interested in learning more.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is managed by the British Museum, and funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport through a ring-fenced grant, the British Museum and local partners. Its work is guided by the Portable Antiquities Advisory Group, whose membership includes leading archaeological, landowner and metal-detecting organisations.

Under the Treasure Act 1996 (see http://finds.org.uk/treasure) finders have a legal obligation to report all finds of potential Treasure to the local coroner. The Portable Antiquities Scheme and its network of Finds Liaison Officers play an essential role in the operation of the Act, advising finders of their legal obligations, providing advice on the process and writing reports for Coroners on Treasure finds.

The Act allows a national or local museum to acquire Treasure finds for public benefit. If this happens a reward is paid, which is (normally) shared equally between the finder and landowner; interested parties may wish to waive their right to a reward, enabling museums to acquire finds at reduced or no cost. Rewards are fixed at the full market value of the find, determined by the Secretary of State upon the advice of an independent panel of experts, known as the Treasure Valuation Committee.
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Statistical release for Reported Treasure Finds (2011 and 2012)

Published: Thursday 31st October 2013 Author:

Annual statistics of the number of objects of treasure found in 2011 (and the headline number for 2012).

Documents

Statistical release for Reported Treasure Finds PDF, 278KB, 10 pages

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request a different format.

If you use assistive technology and need a version of this document in a more accessible format please email publications@culture.gsi.gov.uk quoting your address, telephone number along with the title of the publication ("Statistical release for Reported Treasure Finds ").

Statistical release for Reported Treasure Finds MS Word Document, 217KB This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request a different format. If you use assistive technology and need a version of this document in a more accessible format please email publications@culture.gsi.gov.uk quoting your address, telephone number along with the title of the publication ("Statistical release for Reported Treasure Finds ").

Tables A - C: Reported Treasure Finds MS Excel Spreadsheet, 19.2KB This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request a different format. If you use assistive technology and need a version of this document in a more accessible format please email publications@culture.gsi.gov.uk quoting your address, telephone number along with the title of the publication ("Tables A - C: Reported Treasure Finds ").

List of officials who have received privileged early access PDF, 5.96KB, 1 page This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request a different format. If you use assistive technology and need a version of this document in a more accessible format please email publications@culture.gsi.gov.uk quoting your address, telephone number along with the title of the publication ("List of officials who have received privileged early access ").

Detail

Annual statistics of the number of objects of reported Treasure Finds found in 2011 (and the headline number for 2012) (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) produced by the British Museum on behalf of DCMS were released on 31 October 2013 according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Period covered: January 2011 to December 2012 for reported treasure finds.

Geographic coverage: England, Wales and Northern Ireland for reported treasure finds.

Last release date: 24 October 2012
Next release date:Treasure statistics from 2012 and headline figures for 2013 will be published in the third quarter of 2014

Pre-release access: The document below contains a list of officials who have received privileged early access to this release of Reported Treasure Finds. In line with best practice, the list has been kept to a minimum.

List of officials who have received privileged early access (PDF, 5.96KB, 1 page)

Contact for enquiries

Department for Culture, Media and Sport 4th Floor, 100 Parliament Street, London SW1A 2BQ The responsible analyst for this release is Penny Allen. For enquiries on this release contact: 020 7211 6106 For general enquiries telephone: 020 7211 6000 evidence@culture.gsi.gov.uk

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FLO goes a Vikingr!

Published: Sunday 30th June 2013 Author:

In Early June I was lucky enough to be invited to take part in some experimental archaeology involving 70+ people and one large Viking ship.

Myself and 50 others from England had been in training to act as the rowing crew for the recently built Viking ship, Drakon Harald Harfagre (Dragon Harold Hairfair). Originally we were due to row it around the Wirral coast, but delays in sea trials meant that this was postponed. So as a 'consolation prize', we were all invited to Norway to take part in trials during the Karmoy Viking Festival. Naturally we all said yes straight away and finally on friday 7th June we got to see and row the ship for the first time!

The experimental archaeology involved playing around with bench height and position (Vikings rowed sitting on wooden chests); rowing in pairs, solo, backwards and standing up. The latter was almost impossible and we found that actually rowing solo was easiest, once you got used to the balance and weight of the 7m long oar.

The Dragon has 25 pairs of oars and is based on records of large sea going ships which are recorded in various Scandinavian sources. We rowed up and down the coast of Karmoy island, drawing quite a crowd of festival goers. We even had the company of a little boat (8 pairs of oars), on which Vikings were taking children out to have a go too! Our hosts were very generous, providing much food and transport. They were very impressed with our co-ordination and speed, we got up to four knots at one point, which we were told was fast.

The festival was amazing too, its held near the site where king Harold Fairhair lived (he united Norway) and the locals have constructed a Viking village, including a full size Viking longhouse. There were re-enactors demonstrating metalworking, cooking, rope making and of course, fighting!

It was an amazing experience to row the Dragon, watch out for it when it comes to England next year!

view news coverage of the boat here

www.itv.com/news/granada/2013-06-12/replica-viking-ship-takes-to-the-water

www.tvh.no

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Leicestershire Treasure exhibition open

Published: Monday 22nd April 2013 Author:

Until 3rd November Snibston Discovery Museum in Coalville will be hosting a major new Treasure exhibition.

For the first time all the Treasure items ever purchased by Leicestershire museums will be displayed in one place. The exhibition explains how the treasure process works and will highlight recent acquisitions as they arrive. Highlights in the exhibition include previously unseen Iron Age coin hoards from the Hallaton treasure and the Roman Hallaton helmet; The Bosworth Boar, which helped archaeologists pinpoint the place Richard III fell in battle in 1485; Neolithic gold 'basket ornaments' - the oldest Treasure items from Leicestershire and the Thurcaston Viking coin hoard, on loan from the Fitzwilliam museum.

There will be a series of family friendly activities, public evening lectures and events running throughout the course of the exhibition. For further details please check Leicestershire County Councils Museum pages.

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The Portable Antiquities Scheme receives Heritage Lottery Fund first-round pass for project to expand its volunteer base

Published: Tuesday 2nd April 2013 Author:

Ellie holding the coin tray

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) a first-round pass*, including development funding of £17,600, for a project to greatly enhance its volunteer programme nationwide.

The aim of the project is to create Community Finds Recording Teams by recruiting and training new volunteers from local communities around England and Wales. These teams will work with their regional Find Liaison Officers (FLO) to record local finds onto the PAS database. They will also promote the activities of the PAS to new audiences in their areas, and recruit others to volunteer with the PAS and engage deeply with the history and archaeology of their local areas.

The project will lead to new data being generated for the PAS website, and dedicated project staff will monitor the information recorded to ensure it is of a high standard to all who need it. As part of the project a new section of the PAS website will be developed, which will be devoted to the work of the Community Finds Recording Teams and to the history and archaeology of their local areas.

Development of the project will start in April 2013, working towards a round two submission to HLF in order to receive a final decision on funding. If successful, the project will run for five years.

This new PAS project is one of a number of initiatives at the British Museum supported by HLF, including the Future Curators training scheme and the World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre. The Museum is extremely grateful for this continued support, and looks forward to working with HLF in developing its PAS second-round application.

Sue Bowers, Head of HLF London, said:

"The Heritage Lottery Fund is pleased to be giving initial support towards this project, which if successful will greatly enhance the important work that the Portable Antiquities Scheme provides across the UK. We are looking forward to working closely with the British Museum as they develop their proposals further."

For more information on PAS or this new project please contact Claire Costin: ccostin@britishmuseum.org or 0207 323 8618.

Notes to editors

*A first-round pass means the project meets HLF criteria for funding and HLF believes the project has potential to deliver high-quality benefits and value for Lottery money. The application was in competition with other supportable projects, so a first-round pass is an endorsement of outline proposals. Having been awarded a first-round pass, the project now has up to two years to submit fully developed proposals to compete for a firm award. On occasion, an applicant with a first-round pass will also be awarded development funding towards the development of their scheme.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 35,000 projects with more than £5.3bn across the UK. www.hlf.org.uk.

For more information please contact Katie Owen, HLF Press Office, on 020 7591 6036/07973 613820.

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The Forgotten Past: post-medieval small finds and their contribution to our understanding of the past

Published: Monday 25th March 2013 Author:

A heraldic pendantA Portable Antiquities Scheme and Finds Research Group Conference
Stevenson Lecture Theatre, British Museum Monday 21 October 2013 10am-5pm

Once given little consideration by most archaeologists, post-medieval material was the 'stuff machined through' to get to the 'interesting layers' below. However, thanks to changing attitudes amongst archaeologists and also a growing dataset of finds recovered by metal-detectorists and others now being recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme, there is increasing awareness of the importance of post-medieval finds for understanding the past. It is this interest, and research into such finds, that will be highlighted at this conference.

People giving papers at this conference have been asked to consider the following questions while highlighting their research. Why record post- medieval material, and are there aspects that can be disregarded or selectively studied? What types were once thought of rare, but are now considered quite common, and does that change how we feel about what we record? What have we discovered that is new, and does this help with future research agendas? Post-medieval finds have greater potential to link objects to specific people or occasions, so does that make certain objects more interesting or important? How does the recording of post-medieval finds advance research?

Speakers include:

  • Gary Bankhead
  • Laura Burnett
  • Stuart Campbell
  • Helen Geake
  • Kevin Leahy
  • Brian Read
  • Ian Richardson
  • Eleanor Standley.

The cost of the conference is £10 for members of the FRG and £15 for non-members. To book a place please send a cheque made payable to 'The British Museum' to Janina Parol, Department of Portable Antiquities & Treasure, British Museum, London, WC1B 3DG. Tel: 020 7323 8546. Email: jparol@britishmuseum.org

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Mud-Men returns for series 3 on the History Channel

Published: Friday 22nd March 2013 Author:

'Mud God' Steve Brooker and 'apprentice' Johnny Vaughan are back on TV for more muddy adventures, as a third series of Mud Men is transmitted on History from 20 March 2013. The intrepid duo search the Thames foreshore (and elsewhere) to discover objects that help enlighten our understanding of the past - some of the finds look like nothing much, but are vital clues to how people once lived and worked in the past. All the discoveries are examined by Dr Michael Lewis of the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme, who then sends Johnny and Steve on a historical journey - from finding out about the origins of our police and fire services to the incredible stories behind the Great Fire of London.

As well as scouring the Thames, Johnny and Steve venture further afield in this series, travelling to the Channel Islands to discover about life under the Nazis during the Second World War, learn about the secrets of Henry VIII's famous warship the Mary Rose in Portsmouth, and brave the dangerous River Severn mud at a ship's graveyard in the West Country.

For more see: http://www.history.co.uk/shows/mud-men.html

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The British Museum and the University of Leicester announce £645K to study Roman hoards found in Britain

Published: Monday 11th February 2013 Author:

Alan Graham excavating

The Arts and Humanities Research Council has awarded the British Museum, working in collaboration with the University of Leicester, a £645K grant for a 3-year project on "Crisis or continuity? The deposition of metalwork in the Roman world: what do coin hoards tell us about Roman Britain in the 3rd century AD?"

Hoards of valued materials, particularly coins, are a common, and rapidly growing, class of discovery across the Roman Empire. While these are most commonly seen as having been deposited for safe keeping, other explanations for this activity are also possible. There has been little explicit discussion or research on why Roman coin hoards were buried, why hoards were not recovered in antiquity, or what they tell us when studied as a group. Over 660 hoards are known from Britain containing coins of the period AD 253-96, an unprecedented concentration, and they provide a key and under-used dataset that can shed light on a poorly known period of British archaeology and history.

The British pattern of later 3rd-century hoards differs markedly from the rest of the western Roman empire, despite the political problems that affected Britain at this time being felt equally or more severely in many other European provinces. This anomaly merits detailed investigation - not least because it is a question that the public always ask when a new hoard is found - and the results will have implications not only for interpretation of this specific hoarding phenomenon, but will contribute significantly to more general debates about hoarding behaviour in antiquity.

Traditionally these hoards have been interpreted as having been buried with the intention of recovery but recent discoveries such as the Frome hoard have suggested the possibility that these hoards may have been ritual (or 'votive') deposits. Ritual deposition is a common explanation for prehistoric metalwork, and many, if not all, Iron Age coin hoards. Can we show whether any of the 3rd century hoards were likely to have been ritual deposits and, if so, how many? If so, what are the implications for the use of their contents in studying monetary history or political history?

We have the following research questions:

  1. Why were coin hoards deposited in Roman Britain - and was this for similar reasons as other Iron Age and Roman coin hoards?
  2. Why were so many coin hoards deposited (and not recovered) in 3rd-century Britain and is their date of burial the same as the date of their latest coins?
  3. What do coin hoards tell us about the economic and political history of 3rd-century Britain?
  4. How different or similar are 3rd-century British coin hoards to those from other periods of Roman Britain or other parts of north-western provinces of the Roman Empire?
  5. What wider lessons can be learnt about using coin hoards to understand the economic, political and religious history of the Roman Empire?

The project brings together the expertise of the British Museum in the study of Roman coins and hoards and the academic strengths of the University of Leicester in Roman archaeology and their experience of investigating coin hoards in a landscape setting. The Principal Investigator is Dr Roger Bland, Keeper of Prehistory & Europe and Portable Antiquities & Treasure at the British Museum,who has very extensive experience studying hoards, with the collaboration of Sam Moorhead, National Finds Adviser, who is studying the Frome hoard; and the Co-Investigators are Professors Colin Haselgrove and David Mattingly, leading experts respectively on Iron Age archaeology and coinage and on the archaeology and economy of the Roman Empire. Under their collective guidance and with input from expert colleagues, 3 Post-doctoral Research Assistants will study (1) the hoards from Britain and the wider Empire, (2) a landscape study of the hoard find spots and archaeological evidence for Roman Britain in the 3rd century AD; and (3) reasons for the deposition of metalwork in the Iron Age and Roman periods.

The key outputs will include a database of all Roman coin hoards from Britain, made available via the Portable Antiquities Scheme's website (www.finds.org.uk), a monograph, at least 5 peer-reviewed articles, 2 conferences (the papers of which will be published), two exhibitions, articles for popular magazines and a web-based hoards database.

The project will build on discoveries made by members of the public and reported through the Portable Antiquities Scheme to provide a comprehensive study of coin hoarding in Britain in the 3rd century AD, set in a wider context, and will also address key wider questions relevant for understanding coin hoards in other periods.

Notes for Editors

The University of Leicester is a leading UK University committed to international excellence through the creation of world changing research and high quality, inspirational teaching. Leicester is the most socially inclusive of Britain's top-20 leading universities. The University of Leicester was the THE University of the Year 2008-9 and is the only University to win six consecutive awards from the Times Higher. In awarding the title the judges cited Leicester's ability to "evidence commitment to high quality, a belief in the synergy of teaching and research and a conviction that higher education is a power for good". Leicester was, said the judges, "elite without being elitist".www.le.ac.uk

The British Museum holds records of hoards of Roman coins going back to the 19th century and under the Treasure Act 1996 there is a legal obligation for all hoards of Roman coins to be reported; some 40 finds a year are now being reported. The British Museum also has responsibility for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, a network of 55 staff who record archaeological objects found by the public and make the data publicly available on an online database (http://finds.org.uk).

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