News from the Scheme

Archaeology powered by communities: new crowd-funding platform

Published: 2 weeks, 1 day ago Author:

MicroPasts screenshotUCL Institute of Archaeology and the British Museum are asking for public help in conducting, designing and funding research about archaeology, history and heritage.

For the last six months, the MicroPasts web platform (http://micropasts.org) has been 'crowd-sourcing' the transcription of thousands of Bronze Age finds recorded on index cards, the tagging of hundreds of historical photographs, and creating scores of 3D models of archaeological artefacts including Bronze Age weapons and gold jewellery, ancient Egyptian figurines and million-year old stone axes from Olduvai Gorge.

In a new venture, they are now launching a crowd-funding section for the platform (http://crowdfunded.micropasts.org/) to support archaeological and historical research involving collaborations between community organisations and academic institutions.

The project team are asking both for new crowd-funding proposals and for donations by members of the public to existing crowd-funding campaigns that they feel passionate about.

Project co-lead Daniel Pett, British Museum, who has been heavily involved in implementing this software, commented:

"This bit of our site is a little bit like KickStarter, but especially for people who want to sponsor high quality research about human history, or for people interested who want to collaborate with an academic institution and start a new project in their local area."

Rather than funding new digs, the MicroPasts crowd-funding site is meant to support the 'silent majority' of archaeological and historical research. Important tasks such as artefact study, digitisation of documents or old fieldwork records, scientific sampling, library-based searches and laboratory work are often insufficiently resourced but are key to ensuring high quality publication of the primary evidence. Volunteer historical and archaeological societies have a very big part to play in such research, and are especially effective when they team up with similarly interested universities or museums.

Project co-lead Professor Andrew Bevan, UCL Institute of Archaeology, added:

"Unlike other crowd-funding platforms, ours is dedicated to helping such community-based archaeology and history projects who otherwise sometimes find it difficult to raise the necessary financial support."

The MicroPasts crowd-funding site has begun life with three starter projects. One bid involves a collaboration between the Thames Discovery Project (TDP), a long-running and award-winning community group working on the Thames foreshore, UCL and the Museum of London. This appeal asks for support to allow TDP to map landing places along the river Thames where river 'taxis' used to pick up and drop off passengers from the late 16th century onwards.

Another crowd-funding appeal relates to a medieval abbey at Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire. This collaboration between the Chess Valley Archaeological Society and UCL aims at studying written records and archaeological finds uncovered during excavations in the 1980s, in order to learn more about life and death at the abbey over 400 years.

A third bid investigates the origins of Anglo-Saxon Wessex, the major early medieval kingdom of the West Saxons. This project will be a collaboration between the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, UCL and the University of Nottingham, with the aim of mapping the original administrative boundaries of Wessex and locating assembly sites, where citizens met for law courts and other political and social meetings. The MicroPasts team are keen to receive new submissions to follow these starting three.

Dr Adi Keinan-Schoonbaert, UCL Institute of Archaeology, added:

"Setting up a new crowd-funding bid is simple and straightforward. We ask academic and community partners to provide a short summary of their project, a catchy short video and a breakdown of the requested budget. As long as it fits the bill as a community-based collaboration, we will set up the campaign online and then anyone can donate to it via PayPal."

Crowd-funding is just one aspect of MicroPasts which is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Its other citizen science activities continue apace (http://crowdsourced.micropasts.org/), with 17 different crowd-sourcing applications having been completed since its launch six months ago.

Volunteers are still being sought to help transcribe and georeference a national catalogue of over 30,000 British Bronze Age metal artefacts first recorded in the 18th to 20th centuries. A further goal is to create a large series of research-quality 3D models of some of the same fantastic bronze tools held in the British Museum's collections.

Dr Chiara Bonacchi, UCL Institute of Archaeology, who is involved in the evaluation of the MicroPasts project, said:

"Our goal is not only to provide a valuable opportunity for people to produce high quality research data and learn about archaeological topics or methods that interest them, but also to generate debate and collaboration that may one day lead to new crowd-sourcing ideas or new crowd-funding bids."

All projects make their results publicly available under an open licence so that anyone can share them, and overall the MicroPasts team hopes that the project will start a different kind of discussion about how we research our past.

Notes to editors:

  1. For further information, image and interview requests, please contact Ruth Howells in the UCL Media Relations Office on office: +44 (0)20 3108 3845, mobile: +44 (0)7990 675 947, email: ruth.howells@ucl.ac.uk
  2. The MicroPasts initiative (http://micropasts.org) is a collaboration between UCL 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) 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. www.ahrc.ac.uk
  3. The crowd-funding portion of the web platform is powered by an open source crowd-funding framework called Neighbor.ly whose origins are in software used for crowd-funding civic projects in Brazil and the US.
  4. 4. A good example of a successful archaeological crowd-funding website that, in contrast to MicroPasts, concentrates on the funding of archaeological excavations is DigVentures (http://digventures.com/).
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Unearthing the past: Heritage Lottery grant supports new initiative to get the best from archaeological finds

Published: 2 weeks, 5 days ago Author:

Every year, metal detectorists, farmers and walkers discover archaeological finds that could have important stories to tell us about the past in Wales. But do we get the most out of these discoveries?

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales in partnership with The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales has attracted a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to fulfil the exciting potential of new discoveries. The project Saving Treasures, Telling Stories has been awarded £349,000 to work with finders and communities and enhance the archaeology collections of national and local museums across Wales.

As part of the Heritage Lottery Fund's Collecting Cultures initiative, which supports museums, libraries and archives in developing their collections through strategic acquisition projects, the Saving Treasures, Telling Stories project will create a long-term collecting culture to underpin responsible discovery and reporting.

The Saving Treasures project will establish collecting networks across Wales, enabling museums to share skills, expertise and knowledge and offering training to interpret collections in new and strategic ways. It will also allow for targeted purchases of newly discovered artefacts to develop national and local collections over a four year period 2015-2019. This will involve discoveries covering many periods, from the Stone Age to Medieval times.

The project will deliver a three-year programme of community projects, taking inspiration from significant artefacts or treasure discoveries. Museum staff and partners will collaborate with community groups and participating audiences to develop their responses to the portable heritage on their doorsteps. Community project outcomes will be co-presented in local museums and the national museum, with a range of digital media presentations created and captured online.

A lively and engaging website will be developed for the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales, as a point of access for profiling discoveries, stories, successes and creative responses relating to the portable heritage of Wales.

There will be bursaries for journalism or media studies students and additional volunteering opportunities linked with collecting, community projects and Portable Antiquities Scheme work.

Peter Wakelin, Director of Collections and Research, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales, said,

"Each year hundreds of objects of archaeological significance are found by metal detectorists in Wales and there are some 20-30 discoveries of treasure. This is a crucial resource for understanding the past".

"Targeted purchases of newly-discovered artefacts for national and local collections, collecting activities, ongoing resources and community projects will make a lasting change in bringing together detector clubs, local museums and communities around the stories new discoveries reveal.

"This five year project will help to create and celebrate a new culture around collecting the portable archaeological heritage in Wales and this generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will help us save more treasures and make them more accessible to wider audiences to tell their stories for future generations."

Rachael Rogers, The Federation of Museums and Galleries of Wales:

"We are delighted that this scheme is going ahead. It is a great opportunity for museums across Wales to work both with Amgueddfa Cymru and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales to develop their archaeological collections. We particularly welcome the opportunity to work with local communities that this project will bring".

Jennifer Stewart, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, added

"Collecting Cultures was a hugely popular grant programme and we have responded to this positive feedback by bringing it back a second time. Our first Collecting Cultures grants made a real difference to how cultural institutions approached and planned their long-term collecting strategies. Now, five years on, we're pleased to be able to help a much wider range of applicants, including Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales in partnership with The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales."

If you are interested in taking part in the project or supporting it, please contact Mark Lodwick on (029) 2057 3226 or Adam Gwilt on (029) 2057 3374.

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Rare Hoard of Iron Age chariot fittings goes on display at Melton Museum

Published: 2 weeks, 4 days ago Author:

University of Leicester archaeologists have uncovered 22 bronze parts from a 2nd or 3rd century BC Celtic chariot at Burrough Hill Iron Age hillfort. Leicester archaeologists have made a "once-in-a-career" discovery of the decorated bronze remains of an Iron Age chariot.

A team from the University of Leicester's School of Archaeology and Ancient History have unearthed a hoard of rare bronze fittings from a 2nd or 3rd century BC chariot - which appears to have been buried as a religious offering. The archaeologists found the remains during their ongoing excavation of the Burrough Hill Iron Age hillfort, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. The School has led a 5 year project there since 2010, giving archaeology students and volunteers valuable experience of archaeological excavations.

Burrough Hill is owned by the education charity, the Ernest Cook Trust, which has also funded site tours and school visits to the excavation. While digging a large pit near the remains of a house within the hillfort, a group of four students found a piece of bronze in the ground - before uncovering a further 21 parts very nearby. As a group of two or more base metal prehistoric artefacts this assemblage is covered under the Treasure Act. Taken together, the pieces are easily recognisable as a matching set of bronze fittings from a mid to late Iron Age chariot. After careful cleaning, decorative patterns are clearly visible in the metalwork - including a triskele motif showing three waving lines, similar to the flag of the Isle of Man.

Nora Batterman, one of the students who made the discovery, said:

"Realising that I was actually uncovering a hoard that was carefully placed there hundreds of years ago made it the find of a lifetime. Looking at the objects now they have been cleaned makes me even more proud, and I can't wait for them to go on display."

The pieces appear to have been gathered in a box, before being planted in the ground upon a layer of cereal chaff and burnt as part of a religious ritual. The chaff might have doubled as a "cushion" for the box and also the fuel for the fire. After the burning, the entire deposit was covered by a layer of burnt cinder and slag - where it lay undisturbed for more than 2200 years until the team uncovered it. The archaeologists believe the chariot would have belonged to a high-status individual, such as a "noble" or "warrior". The team believe the burial may have taken place to mark a new season, or the final closure or dismantling of a house at the fort.

The parts have been taken to the University of Leicester's School of Archaeology and Ancient History for further analysis - and the archaeologists hope they will be put on permanent public display in due course. Before then, there will be a temporary display of the objects at the Carnegie Museum, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire from Saturday October 18th until Friday December 13th.

Dr Jeremy Taylor, Lecturer in Landscape Archaeology at the University's School of Archaeology and Ancient History and co-director of the Burrough Hill field project, said:

"This is a matching set of highly-decorated bronze fittings from an Iron Age chariot - probably from the 2nd or 3rd century BC. This is the most remarkable discovery of material we made at Burrough Hill in the five years we worked on the site. This is a very rare discovery, and a strong sign of the prestige of the site. The atmosphere at the dig on the day was a mix of 'tremendously excited' and 'slightly shell-shocked'. I have been excavating for 25 years and I have never found one of these pieces - let alone a whole set. It is a once-in-a-career discovery."

John Thomas, co-director of the project added:

"It looks like it was a matching set of parts that was collected and placed in a box as an offering, before being placed in the ground. Iron tools were placed around the box before it was then burnt, and covered in a thick layer of cinder and slag. The function of the iron tools is a bit of a mystery, but given the equestrian nature of the hoard, it is possible that they were associated with horse grooming. One piece in particular has characteristics of a modern curry comb, while two curved blades may have been used to maintain horse's hooves."

The Burrough Hill excavation was undertaken with the permission of English Heritage, the Ernest Cook Trust (landowners), and Leicestershire County Council (site management).

For more information, please contact either: Dr Jeremy Taylor on 0116 223 1804 or at: jt38@le.ac.uk and John Thomas on 0116 252 5038 or at jst6@le.ac.uk

More information about the Burrough Hill dig can be found at on the Leicester University website.

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Portable Antiquities Scheme records one millionth find

Published: Friday 26th September 2014 Author:

On the occasion of the publication of the Portable Antiquities Scheme Annual Report 2013, its one millionth find recorded is announced. The find is a Roman coin in a hoard of 22,000 others dating to around AD341 found in Seaton, Devon. The copper alloy coin, called a nummus, was struck in AD 332 at the mint of Lyon (Gaul). It shows the personification of Constantinopolis on the obverse and a Victory on prow on the reverse. This very common type was struck by Constantine the Great across the Empire to celebrate the inauguration of the new city of Constantinople which was to become the capital of the Eastern Empire. The hoard is the largest of its kind found in Britain. The recording of over one million objects on http://finds.org.uk since the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) was founded in 1997 is testimony to the enormous success of the scheme, which allows finds discovered by members of the public to be recorded for the benefit of researchers and the public alike.

All the finds recorded through the Scheme have made a huge contribution to archaeological knowledge, revealing new insights into Britain's past from its earliest pre-history to the 20th century. The PAS has recorded objects of great value alongside historical ephemera, both of which are vital to building a picture of our complex past. Some of the key discoveries are:

  • The Staffordshire Hoard, dating to the 7th century, the largest ever Anglo-Saxon hoard of gold and silver, mostly consisting of war-gear, including some object-types that continue to puzzle archaeologists. The range of objects found are challenging orthodoxies of when certain objects were first used.
  • The Frome (Somerset) Hoard, the largest ever Roman coin hoard found in a single vessel, consisting of 52,503 coins, deposited in in c.290. This is one of 500 Romans coins hoards discovered since 1997, and their deposition is leading archaeologists to rethink why hoards were buried in Roman times.
  • Two of the largest ever Viking Age hoards found were recorded through the PAS. The Vale of York Hoard (682 objects) and the Silverdale (Lancashire) Hoard (201 objects) were found in the past decade (the largest Viking hoard ever found was the Cuerdale Hoard 8,600+ objects, found in 1840). Both hoards, of early 10th century date, highlight the extent of Viking expansion across England.
  • Two of the largest ever Bronze Age hoards were recorded through the PAS. The Langton Matravers (Dorset) Hoard (777 objects found in 2007) and the Boughton Malherbe (Kent) Hoard (352 objects found in 2011). Such hoards were once thought to be metalworking scrap but archaeologists now believe they were deposited ritually, perhaps as offerings to lost gods.
  • The PAS has revealed three hitherto unknown rulers who have come to light through coin finds recorded by the scheme: Anarevito (an Iron Age chieftain, c.20 BC-c.AD 10), Domitianus II (a Roman emperor, c.271) and Harthacnut (Viking ruler of York, c.900).
  • A silver-gilt boar badge helped pin the point where King Richard III met his death at the Battle of Bosworth, Leicestershire (1485). Medieval battlefields are often hard to precisely locate, so such archaeological evidence proves crucially important. Our understanding of several battlefield sites have been revolutionised through the systematic recording of metal-detected finds, including Bosworth (1485) and Naseby (1645). The pinpointing of metal artefacts associated with the combatants has allowed archaeologists to better understand such battles.
  • One of the largest objects recorded by the PAS was a French cannon, found in Cardiff, which was perhaps captured at the Battle of the Nile 1798). It measures 2.8m in length.
  • One of the smallest objects recorded by the PAS is an Indian gold fanam (coin) found in East Yorkshire with a diameter of just 6mm. It is struck in the name of King Kanthirava Narasa (r.1638-62) and shows the God Vishnu in his lion incarnation.
  • Cumbria's first Viking Age inhumation cemetery, found following the reporting to PAS of two Scandinavian style 'tortoise' brooches.
  • Britain's oldest found papal bulla, a lead-seal from a document issued in the name of Pope Paschal I (r.817-24), probably granting land or office. Papal bullae are relatively common finds, many of which probably found their way into the ground when the documents to which they were attached were destroyed during the Reformation.
  • Mudlarking on the Thames foreshore has brought to light many artefact types less commonly found elsewhere, including lead-alloy medieval pilgrim badges and post-medieval toys.

Currently 815 people have full access to PAS data for research purposes, and there are a further 6,723 registered users. To date PAS data has been used in 422 research projects, including 15 pieces of large-scale research and 87 PhDs.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has recently agreed a generous grant to the Portable Antiquities Scheme which will help to increase volunteer involvement in archaeological heritage across the UK. Called PASt Explorers, the scheme is a five year project that will create a national network of up to 500 trained volunteers who will participate in archaeological finds work in their local areas, sharing information through the PAS database and within their local communities. The HLF grant is for £792,000 over five years and will build on the existing aims of the PAS to increase opportunities for active public involvement in archaeology, especially for people who have never before participated in archaeological heritage. Volunteers will assist in the delivery of public activities in their local areas, including finds recording events, talks, displays and exhibitions and finds handling sessions. The project will raise awareness of the educational value of archaeological finds in their context, and promote the care and protection of the historic environment on a local level.

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, said:

'The success of the PAS and finds.org.uk cannot be overestimated in terms of our understanding of our past. The sheer variety and diversity of finds registered over the schemes 17 year history is extraordinary and the one millionth find is truly exciting milestone.'

Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, said:

'The one millionth find recorded represents an incredible landmark for the PAS. The British Museum's role managing the Scheme has been instrumental in its success, ensuring through its network of locally based Finds Liaison Officers, that it reaches out to local people where they live, ensuring that the most important archaeological finds are recorded for the benefit of us all'.

The Seaton Hoard - the one millionth find

The hoard (PAS-D7EA4C) of approximately 22,000 copper-alloy coins was found near the previously excavated site of a Roman villa at Honeyditches in East Devon. in November 2013. Realising the significance of the discovery, and that much of it was in situ, the finder (Laurence Egerton, 51) immediately contacted the landowner (Clinton Devon Estates), as well as Danielle Wootton (Devon Finds Liaison Officer who is based at the University of Exeter) and Bill Horner (County Archaeologist). This prompt and responsible action ensured the coins were properly excavated and allowed for the later recording of the hoard and its context at the British Museum. Seaton Down is the largest hoard of coins of the 4th century AD from Britain to have been properly recorded through the PAS and was declared Treasure earlier this month.

It appears that the coins were buried together as a single group in a small isolated pit, the lozenge shaped form of the coin deposit suggests the coins were buried in a flexible container, perhaps a fabric or soft leather bag, though this has not survived. The combined weight of the coins is 68kg and they have been lightly cleaned at the British Museum prior to valuation under the Treasure Act 1996.The coins range from the late AD 260s to the AD 340s, a period of much turmoil in Roman Britain. 99% of the hoard are nummi, common coins struck between AD 330 and AD 341. The group terminates in AD 347-8 during the joint reign of Constantius II and his younger brother Constans, sons of Constantine I. Constans was the last legitimate emperor to visit Britain.

The scale of the hoard is remarkable. This is one of the largest hoards ever found within the whole Roman Empire. Despite the number of coins found, the financial value would not have been great, amounting to approximately four gold coins (solidi): this sum of money would possibly have provided a soldier's food or a worker's salary for two years.

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery in Exeter hope to acquire the hoard and a fundraising campaign has been launched today.

Exeter's Lead Councillor for Economy and Culture Rosie Denham expressed local delight:

"This extraordinary hoard will add greatly to our picture of life in Roman Devon. It would be a wonderful addition to RAMM's collection of local Romano-British objects which includes finds from Honeyditches. We hope that public support will enable us to acquire the hoard. It has so many exciting stories to tell not least of which is the exemplary cooperation between the finder, landowner, PAS and county authorities. We look forward to developing and sharing these stories and invite all to help buy and conserve this important discovery."

Laurence Egerton said:

"Initially I found two small coins the size of a thumbnail sitting on top of the ground. I decided to dig the earth at that spot and immediately reached some iron ingots which were laid directly on top of the coins. The next shovel was full of coins - they just spilled out over the field. I had no idea how far down the coins went so I stopped immediately and phoned my wife to come to the site with a camera. Between finding the hoard and the archaeologists excavating the site I slept alongside it in my car for three nights!

"It's by far the biggest find I've ever had. It really doesn't get any better than! It is so important to record all of these finds properly because it is so easy to lose important insights into our history.", added Mr Egerton.

Bill Horner (County Archaeologist, Devon County Council) said

'It is to the finder's great credit that so many coins were left in the ground to be archaeologically excavated. We realised the significance of the find and mobilised a team as fast as we could. So much more information was retrieved as a result. The coins were in remarkably good condition. Coming out of the ground you could see the portrait faces , a family tree of the House of Constantine!'

Also on display will be:
A medieval papal bulla found in Cheddon Fitzpaine, Somerset (PAS: SOM-FBA501). This lead seal, issued in the name of Pope Paul II (r.1464-71), would originally have been attached to a decree or document granting privileges. The design of the pope enthroned, flanked by his cardinals and with his flock before him is unique. This image also intriguing since Paul was criticised for this abuse of appointing cardinals in secret so as to advance his personal interests. This object has been acquired by The Museum of Somerset.

A post-medieval 'toy' from Swallowfield, Berkshire (PAS: SUR-59B224). This copper-alloy object, probably dating to the 18th century, shows a copulating couple. The object has movable parts, so as to cause amusement. Such bawdy objects are not uncommon, and shed light on entertainment and humour at this time. The find is to be returned to the finder.

Notes to editors:

The Portable Antiquities Scheme: 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 archaeologists understand when, where and how people lived in the past.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme (http://finds.org.uk) offers the only proactive mechanism for 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 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.

All the images for this launch can be obtained from:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/5e1dfdz2c0tuo9d/AAB97js-j2GPSra2okGJVMoaa?dl=0

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New project receives support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Published: Monday 25th August 2014 Author:

The British Museum announces today a new Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) initiative that will greatly increase volunteer involvement in archaeological heritage across the UK. PASt Explorers is a five-year project that will create a national network of up to 500 trained volunteers who will participate in archaeological finds work in their local areas, sharing information through the PAS database and within their local communities. The project is generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with a grant of £792,000 over five years.

The project will contribute directly to the construction of new narratives about the history of local communities across England and Wales. It will build on the existing aims of the PAS to increase opportunities for active public involvement in archaeology, especially for people who have never before participated in archaeological heritage. Volunteers will assist in the delivery of public activities in their local areas, including finds recording events, talks, displays and exhibitions and finds handling sessions. The project will raise awareness of the educational value of archaeological finds in their context, and promote the care and protection of the historic environment on a local level.

Volunteers will operate as Community Finds Recording Teams (CFRTs) based around their local Finds Liaison Officer. The teams will be organised into ten regional training centres across the country. They will receive training in order to identify and record archaeological finds from their local area, increasing the number of objects recorded onto the PAS database where the records will be accessible to all, free of charge. Volunteers will also develop a new County Pages section of the PAS website: central resources of information on volunteering and finds activity in each region.

The grant will also support new dedicated posts in the PAS Central Unit based at the British Museum: two Project Officers; an Outreach Officer and an ICT Officer.

The project builds on strong evidence about the power of harnessing volunteers to widen our understanding of our heritage. The PAS has a history of interacting with volunteers and for utilising the power of the crowd. Over 24,000 people have provided data for the PAS database and the public have been able to record their own finds since 2010. A current project run in partnership with the Institute of Archaeology, University College London is making use of crowd-sourcing to create a digital index of Bronze Age finds. A catalogue of index cards relating to single objects and entire hoards from the Bronze Age (ca. 2500 BC - 800 BC) have been photographed and thousands of paper records scanned. The public have been assisting in 3D modelling, transcribing and locating these archaeological finds via a dedicated "crowd-sourcing" website http://crowdsourced.micropasts.org/.

Roger Bland, Head of the Portable Antiquities Scheme said

'Volunteers have always been vital for the success of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and this generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will mean that we can not only provide many more volunteering opportunities, but also give them the chance to develop their skills. This will enable us to meet our core aim of increasing our knowledge of the history and archaeology of England and Wales for the benefit of all.'

Carole Souter, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund said

'This wonderful project will help spread the reach of the Portable Antiquities Scheme even further across England and Wales. Enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers are the life blood of the scheme: without them it would falter. In recognition of this, individuals will be given further opportunities to widen their knowledge and involvement which in turn will improve the recording of archaeological finds and raise awareness at a grass-roots level.'


Notes to Editors:

The Portable Antiquities Scheme

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 (www.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 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 36,000 projects with more than £6bn across the UK.

For more information: www.hlf.org.uk.
Media contact: Katie Owen, HLF press office, on tel: 020 7591 6036.

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

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SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED FOR THE BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGICAL AWARDS

Published: Monday 2nd June 2014 Author:

A shortlist of entries for the 2014 British Archaeological Awards has been announced today, showcasing the very best in British archaeology.

The judging panels for the awards reported a bumper crop of nominations this year reflecting the incredible wealth, diversity and quality of archaeology entries uncovering and presenting the very latest thinking and discoveries right across the UK.

Nominations include projects, publications, broadcasts and presentations as well as the use of innovation in approach, methodology and process. Entries are judged by independent panels made up of leading experts from across the archaeology field in the UK, including both professional and voluntary sectors.

The shortlisted entries are:

BEST ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT

  • Bloomberg London, Museum of London Archaeology
  • The Hungate Archaeological Project, York Archaeological Trust
  • The Tameside Archaeological Survey, Dr Michael Nevell and Prof John Walker


BEST COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ARCHAEOLOGY PROJECT

  • Dig Greater Manchester, Centre for Applied Archaeology, University of Salford
  • Jigsaw Cambridgeshire: Piercing Together Cambridgeshire's Past, Oxford Archaeology East and Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk Project (SCHARP), The SCAPE Trust


BEST ARCHAEOLOGICAL BOOK

  • Bosworth 1485, Glenn Foard and Anne Curry, Oxbow Books
  • Interpreting the English Village; landscape and community at Shapwick, Somerset, Mick Aston & Chris Gerrard, Oxbow Books
  • Star Carr, Life in Britain after the Ice Age, Nicky Milner, Barry Taylor, Chantal Conneller, Tim Schadla-Hall, Council for British Archaeology


BEST PUBLIC PRESENTATION OF ARCHAEOLOGY

  • New Secrets of the Terracotta Warriors, Lion Television and MediaLab for Channel 4
  • The Post Hole, University of York
  • Wemyss Caves 4D, Save the Wemyss Ancient Caves Society, The SCAPE Trust and The York Archaeological Trust


BEST ARCHAEOLOGICAL INNOVATION

  • Archwilio App, Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust, Dyfed Archaeological Trust, Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust & Gwynedd Archaeological Trust
  • ShoreUPDATE: Sites at Risk Map web portal and app, The SCAPE Trust
  • Time-lapse photography, York Archaeological Trust Laboratory for Bio-Archaeology

The winners of the 2014 British Archaeological Awards will be announced at a ceremony to be held at the British Museum on 14 July, to be compèred by Loyd Grossman, Chair of The Heritage Alliance, with Dan Snow, President of the Council for British Archaeology. A discretionary award for Outstanding Achievement in Archaeology will be presented at the event which also marks the start of a two-week celebration of all things archaeology during the 24th Festival of Archaeology with over 1000 public events, many free, on offer across the UK.

Established in 1976 as an independent charity and now in their 38th year, the Awards encompass five awards and a discretionary award for outstanding achievement. Their aim 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.

Notes for Editors
1 The British Archaeological Awards aim to advance public education in the study and practice of archaeology in all its aspects in the United Kingdom and in particular the granting of awards for excellence or other appropriate reasons.

Our mission is for the awards to be recognised and valued by archaeologists, those they work with and the wider public to facilitate and celebrate good practice in archaeology, raise the profile of the discipline and contribute to a greater recognition of the academic, social, environmental and public relations value of archaeology.

2 The British Archaeological Awards take place every two years and are managed by an independent charity chaired by Deborah Williams of English Heritage. The 2014 Awards ceremony is sponsored by The Robert Kiln Trust, The Society of Antiquaries of London, The British Museum/Portable Antiquities Scheme, English Heritage, the Institute for Archaeologists, Historic Scotland, Cadw, and Glasgow Museums.

For trustees and sponsors see: www.archaeologicalawards.org.uk

3 The six main Awards are given to recognise aspects of archaeology from the last two years which have been nominated by the archaeological community, and have been independently judged by panels of experts from across the archaeology sector:

The Judges for the 2014 entries were:

Best Archaeological Project: Prof. Roger Mercer OBE
Best Community Engagement Archaeology Project: Peter Liddle
Best Archaeological Book: Christopher Catling
Best Public Presentation of Archaeology: Dr Sara Perry
Best Archaeological Innovation: Roger Thomas

4 The Awards ceremony will be held on 14 July 2014 at the British Museum and is a central event in the archaeological calendar, also marking the start of the CBA Festival of Archaeology, coordinated by the Council for British Archaeology: www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk

5 Winners will be announced on the website of the British Archaeological Awards following the ceremony: www.archaeologicalawards.org.uk

6 Photographs of the shortlisted entries are available from:
Sarah Howell
c/o Robert Kiln Charitable Trust
15a Bull Plain
Hertford SG14 1DX

Tel: 01992 554962
Email: robertkilntrust@btconnect.com

7 A representative of the British Archaeological Awards is available for interview on request. Contact Louise Ennis tel: office 01904 671417; mobile 07709 353741.

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

Published: Wednesday 16th April 2014 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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