With the release of the 2019 PAS Annual Report, here is a couple of special Berkshire ones from the report and a roundup of finds from Berkshire recorded in the past year.
First from 2019 is a remarkable find from Bisham, Berkshire, this year was a silver Greek drachm of Alexander III ‘the Great’ (336–323 BC (BERK-66FE72) discovered apparently wrapped in a lead sheet (BERK-670856). This is a posthumous issue of Alexander struck in western Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) in c.310–301 BC and depicts the head of Herakles on the obverse and a seated Zeus on the reverse. Greek coins are hugely rare finds in Britain, and many are likely not genuine ancient losses. If this is an ancient loss, the process of wrapping it in lead may hint at its use for purposes other than as money. – Sally Worrell and Andrew Brown
Another interesting find was this Queen Anne ‘touch-piece.’ The lack of medical knowledge in the past resulted in practices that may seem odd to use today. A debilitating condition known as ‘scrofula’ – probably a disease of the lymph glands resulting in painful sores and skin-related ailments – became associated with royalty in the belief that the sores would heal if touched by the monarch. In medieval and post-medieval England this was accompanied by the gift of a gold ‘touch-piece’, pierced to wear around the neck as an amulet. By the reign of Charles II (r. 1660–85) these touch pieces were no longer coins but specially-made medals copying the gold Angel coinage. Only two were reported last year, one an example for Queen
Anne (r. AD 1702–14) from Eton, Berkshire (BERK-AD2BA7). The other, produced for James II (r. 1685–7), was found at Hartley Wintney, Hampshire (HAMP-ECDEB8). Both have the characteristic large piercings at the top of the object, the James II piece also being sharply bent – Laura Burnett and John Naylor
This touch piece has now been acquired by Windsor & Royal Borough Museum.
2020 has been a difficult year with the Covid-19 pandemic. This has been felt by the PAS and metal detectorists all over the country. It has been a challenge to meet with finders to record objects and as FLOs we have been doing a lot of this work digitally. I also only took over the role as the Berkshire FLO in August, right in the middle of the pandemic. It has been great to meet and chat to finders where possible and I am pleased that there are so many responsible detectorists in the area.
Berkshire encompasses six unitary authorities on the PAS database; West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, Reading, Wokingham, Slough, and Bracknell Forest.
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Berkshire is in an interesting position on the M4 corridor between other counties that other FLOs often record finds found in Berkshire, and vice versa. The Berkshire FLOs this year has recorded 485 objects in total from Oxfordshire (185), West Berkshire (113), Windsor and Maidenhead (92), Hampshire (42), Buckinghamshire (24), Wiltshire (15), Swindon (2),Essex (1)
So to see out 2020 and hoping for a successful 2021 here are some of my favourite finds recorded in 2020.
Starting with coins is this gold quarter noble of Edward III (BERK-8CCFE5). It was included in my summary of the Medieval period as interesting. Firstly, it is a mule, a coin where the obverse and reverse are not commonly found together. Secondly it has a spelling mistake in the reverse legend. Usually it would read. EXALTABITVR IN GLORIA (Exalted in Gloria) but this one reads EXALTABITVR IN GALhORI.
Another stunning coin is this cut-half of Edward the Martyr (AD975 – 978) (BERK-636D9A). His reign was very short so not much coinage was issued and this one is particularly clear. We can see the coin was issued by the moneyer Boia from the Stamford mint. It was also my first record as the Berkshire FLO.
Of the few finds from Wokingham this year, one of them was this IA gold stater (ESS-C4A552) recorded in Essex. This coin is a Gallo-Belgic import around 60 – 50BC, around the time of Caesar’s visits to Britain. The coin is particularly well struck. The horse imagery comes from the coinage of Phillip II of Macedon and is a symbol of authority and power.
Personal adornment appeared multiple times this year. It was a year of early brooches with all but two of the 19 brooch records for the area being Iron Age or Roman. There was this very nice example of the spring in a Colchester type brooch (OXON-97F00B) and what would have once been a bright, sparkling disc brooch (SUR-153B45).
Not long after the Roman period this Early Medieval brooch (BERK-47C586) which was normally, women (and, occasionally, young girls) wore them in pairs at the shoulder or the breast.
There were also buckles, mostly from the Medieval and Post-Medieval periods. A standout one has to be this (SUR-AC3874) rectangular buckle The front of the plate is engraved with three circular floral forms, with radiating and trailing foliage and a double border of intertwined sinuous lines and short transverse parallel lines. This buckle is hard to date because the engraved plate has stylistic similarities to Roman examples; the cusped frame has various similarities with both early and post Medieval frame types. The preservation condition and unusual stylistic composition of this object may suggest however that it is a more modern reproduction or imitation of these styles.
There were also some very clear jettons appear this year. Particularly clear is this (BERK-0DF027) French jetton, Tower of Tournai type, from the reign of Louis XII (1497-1515) and the early years of Francis I (1515-1547), dating to AD1497-1521 and this (BERK-06F904) double reverse English Jetton.
Anyone who knows me, knows I love weights. There have been quite a lot this year. One nice looking weight (BERK-DBEBE9) weight for an Angel, dating to 15th – 16th century. One side of the weight depicts St Michael with a halo over his head, with one leg straight and the other bent, spearing a dragon.
And a few hundred years later, even more axes, this time in Bronze (BERK-8D62D5 and BERK-031B9E). These axes are of slightly different types placing their date of creation a couple of hundred years apart.
To finish off this roundup is my favourite find of the year. This Romano-British statuette of Putto (BERK-3D408B), a nude chubby child figure, in this instance playing with a ball. This type of figurine is termed ‘genre art’ as it represents an aspect of everyday life, in this case playing with a ball. He is generally derived from personifications of love, or Eros figures, in Greek and Roman art.
Thank you everyone for recording your finds with the PAS this year. I hope to see you all again in 2021.