Finds Days on hold until we Find a FLO!

  • Please note there is currently no Portable Antiquities Scheme’s Finds Liaison Officer for Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside. The role has been advertised and we hope to have a new FLO appointed by October. Finds Days are currently suspended until the next FLO is in post.
  • If you have finds to record please keep hold of you’re your finds and make a note of their grid reference and the new FLO will be happy to record them once services resume.
  • Once in post details of the new FLO and finds days will be posted on the county pages for Cheshire and Merseyside https://finds.org.uk/counties/ and on the Facebook page of ‘Museum of Liverpool Archaeology’.
Museum of Liverpool Archaeology Facebook page

The Poole Hoard (part 4)

The Poole Hoard on display at Congleton Museum

The Poole Hoard is made up of 1496 Roman nummi, 5 debased radiates and a few fragments of pottery. The hoard was found in 2016 and excavated by archaeologists from the Museum of Liverpool alongside the local FLO.

You can find out about the discovery in our first blog of the series The Poole Hoard 2016 T325.

Our second blog, The Poole Hoard Continued (part 2) and our third blog Martinian and Fausta emerge from the Poole Hoard (part 3) – we really need to work on our catchy blog titles! – focuses on the work of the conservation department at the British Museum.

The Poole Hoard and the Cheshire Hoards side by side at Congleton Museum

The Hoard was jointly acquired by the Museum of Liverpool and Congleton Museum. Along with the Cheshire Hoards which were previously acquired jointly by the two museums, the Poole Hoard is a touring hoard which moves between several local museums. To find out where it is up to now contact the archaeology team at the Museum of Liverpool.

At the Museum of Liverpool we are hosting #MuseumFutures trainee, Abbie Brennan, as part of a British Museum partnership project supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF). You can read more about Abbie’s work in her Museum Futures blog. Abbie along with a number of volunteers have been doing some fantastic work photographing and cataloguing the Poole Hoard. Abbie was then able to help put the hoard on display alongside the Museum of Liverpool’s Curator of Archaeology and the Historic Environment, Liz Stewart, at Congleton Museum.

MOL.208.75.276 Obverse: Fausta, Reverse: Fausta (as Salus) cradling her two sons- Constantine II and Constantinus II, Minted in Trier – Photographed & edited by Abbie Brennan

Museum Futures trainee Abbie Brennan helping to install the coin hoard at Congleton Museum

The Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) runs a Finds Day every three months from 10.30-15.30 at Congleton Museum so you have the perfect excuse to drop in, check out the hoards and record your finds! Contact FLO Heather Beeton for details of the upcoming finds days.

New Finds Day at Nantwich Museum

Finds Liaison Officer for Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside, Ben Jones will be hosting a new Finds Day at Nantwich Museum. The finds day will run on a Saturday every three months from 10.00-1.00. Ben will be recording objects from Prehistory to 1700s which found in England or Wales.

The first finds day at Nantwich Museum will be on Saturday 3rd November. Drop in to show Ben your finds or to find out more, and don’t forget those find spots!

Ben Jones, FLO for Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside

Grant to support the study of Portable Antiquities Scheme finds from Cheshire

Chester Archaeology Society wishes to encourage the study and publication of objects (or groups/types of object) reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme from Cheshire and adjoining areas, to ensure that their potential contribution to the understanding of the archaeology and history of the county is realised. It is therefore offering a grant of £700 every two years to help suitable persons to undertake such research. It is a condition of the grant that the results of the research shall be offered for first publication as an article in the Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society.

The first grant in 2016 was awarded to Carl Savage and Matthew Ball for a study of unpublished Roman, medieval and post-medieval coin hoards in Cheshire. Their fascinating work is published in Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society vol 87 for 2017.

Journal of the Chester Archaeology Society

The society is currently taking applications for the 2018 grant with an application deadline of the end of June. For details on how to apply visit Chester Archaeology Society’s Grants and Awards page here.

 

Cheshire’s Treasure

On this day 20 years ago the 1996 Treasure Act came into force. This important Act allows museums across the country to acquire Treasure items for their collection, curating them and protecting them for the nation.

Items which are 10% or more precious metal and over 300 years old are officially ‘Treasure’. For coins, two or more precious metal coins found together qualify as Treasure or 10 or more base metal coins. Treasure also includes two or more prehistoric objects found together such as two Bronze Age axes. More about the Treasure Act can be found here.

Excavating the Knutsford Hoard. Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. License: CC-BY.

In Cheshire we have been lucky enough to have excavated four Roman coin hoards since 2012, thanks to the finders reporting their Treasure finds before taking them out of the ground. This has allowed archaeologists to gain as much information possible from the discoveries of these hoards, advancing our archaeological knowledge. Each of these hoards contain different denominations of Roman coins, denarius in the Knutsford hoard, radiates in the Peover hoard, nummi in the Poole hoard and siliquae in the Dutton hoard, giving us a fantastic insight into Cheshire’s economy during the Roman period.

LVPL-A40A40 Roman pendant. Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. License: CC-BY.

However the Treasure Act does not just accommodate these exciting coin hoards, small objects, easily lost are also covered by the Act. Objects such as this stunning silver Roman pendant now in Chester’s Grosvenor Museum, or this interesting post-Medieval silver object used both as a toothpick and an earscoop now in Congleton Museum, have also been acquired thanks to the Treasure Act.

LVPL-ECAD33 Lead alloy dress hook. Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. License: CC-BY.

Although the Treasure Act is a hugely important part of protecting our shared heritage, the vast number of non-Treasure objects voluntarily recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) allows us to learn about those who often play a silent role in history. People who couldn’t afford fantastic silver dress hooks such as this one now in the Grosvenor Museum and would have made do with copper or lead clothing fasteners instead such as this lead example discovered outside of Cheshire. By recording these non-Treasure objects voluntarily as well as the Treasure finds required to be reported by law, we can discover a more complete picture of Cheshire’s past. Currently 6,580 objects both Treasure and non-Treasure, found in Cheshire, have been recorded on the PAS database. All of which can be used in research to advance our archaeological knowledge.

 

 

Martinian & Fausta emerge from the Poole Hoard (part 3)

Nummus of Martinian AD 324. Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. License: CC-BY.
Nummus of Martinian AD 324. Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. License: CC-BY.

Conservation and excavation of the Poole hoard is continuing, with work now on-going on the smaller clod. From this clod a rare coin has emerged, a nummus of Martinian who was the Roman emperor from July to September AD 324. Martinian is depicted on the obverse of the coin wearing a radiate crown and reads D N M MARTINIANVS P F AVG. The reverse depicts Jupiter standing left, holding Victory on a globe in right hand and eagle-tipped sceptre in left, with a captive on ground to right. The reverse legend reads IOVI CONSERVATORI. This coin is a particularly rare example and there is no other example currently recorded on the PAS database of this type.

Nummus of Fausta AD 324-328 Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. License: CC-BY.
Nummus of Fausta AD 324-328 Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. License: CC-BY.

Another coin from the small clod is this nummus of Fausta the second wife of Constantine and compared to her contemporary empresses, Helena and Theodora, is a lesser spotted face due to her early demise. Fausta was reportedly boiled in a bath amid rumours of an affair with her stepson Crispus (also executed at the same time)! This coin depicts the bust of Fausta right wearing a necklace and reads FLAV MAX FAVSTA AVG. The reverse depicts the Empress standing, looking left with a veiled head and holding two children in her arms. The legend reads SPES REIPVBLICAE. Fausta whose coins were minted AD 324-328 has 187 coins currently recorded on the PAS database.

Congratulations Carl and Matt!

Congratulations to two numismatists and PAS volunteers Carl Savage and Matt Ball!! Both Carl and Matt have been awarded Chester Archaeological Society’s grant supporting the study of PAS finds from Cheshire.

Chester Archaeological Society wish to encourage the study and publication of objects (or groups/types of object) reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme from Cheshire and adjoining areas, to ensure that their potential contribution to the understanding of the archaeology and history of the county is realised.

Part of the Poole Hoard, a Roman hoard of nummi LVPL-8CC2AC. Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. License: CC-BY.
Part of the Poole Hoard, a Roman hoard of nummi LVPL-8CC2AC. Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. License: CC-BY.

The grant of £700 will enable Carl and Matt to study coin hoards from Cheshire and their results are to be published in the Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society. The working title of Carl and Matt’s numismatic study is ‘Roman, medieval and post medieval coin hoards from Cheshire’.

The Beeston Hoard of Medieval coins - obverse of coins, (LVPL-C920E4). Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. License: CC-BY.
The Beeston Hoard of Medieval coins – obverse of coins, (LVPL-C920E4). Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. License: CC-BY.

It is fantastic that all the data which we collect by recording Cheshire’s coin hoards will be brought together in this exciting new project supported by Chester Archaeological Society which will allow us to learn more about Cheshire’s past.

LVPL-08F250 Post-medieval coin hoard from Buerton Copyright: Museum of Liverpool. License: CC-BY.
LVPL-08F250 Post-medieval coin hoard from Buerton Copyright: Museum of Liverpool. License: CC-BY.

The Pool Hoard continued (part 2)

As the Poole Hoard, Treasure case 2016 T325, undergoes conservation at the British Museum some issues have been coming to light. Soft patches of copper alloy due to the corrosive soil conditions have resulted in pitting on some coins. Here you can see that Roma has lost her nose and Licinius II is having difficulties with his vision!

A nummus of the House of Constantine, VRBS ROMA reverse depicting wolf and twins. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.
A nummus of the House of Constantine, VRBS ROMA reverse depicting wolf and twins. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.
A nummus of Licinius II, VIRTVS EXERCITVS, reverse type depicting two prisoners seated under standard. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.
A nummus of Licinius II, VIRTVS EXERCITVS, reverse type depicting two prisoners seated under standard. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.

On the flip side (literally) the reverse of this Licinius II coin has very good preservation in places, with the folds in the captives’ trousers, the ties binding the right hand figure and other details visible. Much of the detail on the coins from the Poole Hoard survives however active care is being taken by the British Museum’s conservators in order to ensure that it is not lost.

A nummus of Crispus (AD317-326). Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.
A nummus of Crispus (AD317-326). Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.

 

A nummus of Crispus (AD317-326). Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.
A nummus of Crispus (AD317-326). Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.

Investigating the Poole hoard and seeing lots of different coins of the same type at once gives us the opportunity to study the changing faces. Here we have two coins of Crispus both wearing laureate crowns with neat short hair but facing different directions. In one Crispus holds a shield while on the other coin the emperor’s cuirass is clearly visible.

Easy to spot changes on coins bearing female busts, are changes in hair style. Here we have two similar styles displaying subtle changes in fashion. As well as their monetary use coins were also were used as political propaganda conveying a message in a quick and visible form to the people from their rulers. Likewise fashion such as the hairstyles chosen for the coins would have influenced the fashion of the day.

Flavia Maxima Fausta (289–326). Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.
Flavia Maxima Fausta (289–326). Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.

The Poole Hoard 2016 T325

The Poole hoard was discovered on the 18th of April 2016 in the parish of Poole, Cheshire East. After reporting the discovery to me at the Museum of Liverpool (MOL) myself and MOL archaeologist Dr Mark Adams went out to investigate the site. The hoard had been discovered in plough soil and many of the coins were ploughed out but three large clods remained. The finders carefully wrapped the coin filled clods of soil. Concerned that there was organic material, such as a box or bag, the clods were kept cool and damp on the advice of the British Museum’s conservators. As conservation grade equipment was not to hand some ice buckets and dampened jay-cloths did the trick nicely!

Part of the Poole Hoard, LVPL-8CC2AC. Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. License: CC-BY.
Part of the Poole Hoard, LVPL-8CC2AC. Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. License: CC-BY.
Newly discovered clods of the Poole hoard. LVPL-8CC2AC. Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. License: CC-BY.
Newly discovered clods of the Poole hoard. LVPL-8CC2AC. Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. License: CC-BY.
X-ray of the Poole Hoard, LVPL-8CC2AC. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.
X-ray of the Poole Hoard, LVPL-8CC2AC. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.
X-ray of the Poole Hoard, LVPL-8CC2AC. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.
X-ray of the Poole Hoard, LVPL-8CC2AC. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The coins are all nummi dating to the 4th century AD. The clods of soil and excavated loose coins were sent down to the British Museum where they are currently being cleaned by Pippa Pearce and her team. First x-rays were taken of the clods to find out what we were dealing with and the best way to proceed. The x-rays of one clod revealed a coin scatter and 2 aggregated groups of coins, one of which is like a coin cone. The larger block which had been wrapped and lifted revealed a massive haggis-shape of coins along one side. This reminded Pippa of the Beau Street hoard which contained haggis-shaped coin bags. So we are keeping our fingers crossed that once fully excavated a coin bag will be revealed, a very special find for Cheshire. The x-ray of a third smaller clod was blank however the clod will still be excavated to make sure nothing is missed. It will be exciting to see what these three mini-indoor excavations will reveal.

The conservator working on the large block, Alex Baldwin, believes that the block has been turned on its side and what she has is about two-thirds of a segment of a shallow saucer shape of coins, much as if they had been put into a shallow depression in the ground. There are pebbles right up against the coins on what would then be the base of the hoard and the lower area is more crusted while the top is more ‘free flowing’. The coins are all horizontal, when viewed that way up, as if they have been levelled out. No finds of leather textile or wood have been discovered.

The coins have not yet been studied in detail and we do not yet know how many there will be. Currently there are 2013 but more may follow with the excavation of the clods. Some of the rulers represented so far are Constantine I, Constantine II, Licinius, and Crispus.

A nummus of Constantine I, with the reverse depicting camp-gates with two turrets and a star above. The reverse legend reads PROVIDENTIAE AVGG and the coin dates to AD 324-330. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.
A nummus of Constantine I, with the reverse depicting camp-gates with two turrets and a star above. The reverse legend reads PROVIDENTIAE AVGG and the coin dates to AD 324-330. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.
The detail on the helmeted bust of this nummus of Constantine I is especially clear. The coin was minted in Siscia (now Sisak a city in central Croatia). The fantastic condition of these coins, suggest that they were not in circulation for very long. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.
The detail on the helmeted bust of this nummus of Constantine I is especially clear. The coin was minted in Siscia (now Sisak a city in central Croatia). The fantastic condition of these coins, suggest that they were not in circulation for very long. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.

The corrosive Cheshire soils have however done their work in places and therefore chemicals are not being used on this hoard. The conservation team are doing wet manual cleaning to remove as much soil as possible, then drying the coins out and doing more manual cleaning when they have hardened up a bit, consolidating the more powdery areas.

Poorer surface preservation can be seen on these coins. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.
Poorer surface preservation can be seen on these coins. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum. License: Attribution License.

As this exciting and important hoard makes its way through the Treasure Act process and onto the PAS database it will allow us to discover more about Cheshire’s Roman past.

Finds from Home

Coming from Ireland but working in England I particularly enjoy when finds have a connection with home. The North West and Ireland have always had links and it should be of no surprise then when objects are handed in for recording which have been found in the North West with strong Irish parallels or links.

Tonight I’ve been working on an object which I recorded recently from Cheshire East, a rare socketed heeled sickle of Iron Age date, LVPL-23E5CF.

Early Iron Age sickle (LVPL-23E5CF) Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. Licence: CC-BY.

The sickle is in three pieces and has been irregularly broken during antiquity. On one face of the object the heal, in line with the socket, is decorated with a squirly circlet decoration. When researching the sickle I found that it is the only socketed example currently on the PAS database. Immediately I contacted my fellow FLOs Peter and Dot who have an interest in the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age. They directed me a similar example in Norwich County Museum which may have been created in the same mould. Then during the course of her research Dot spotted another parallel illustrated on p.14 of P.W Joyce, A Reading book in Irish History. Eager to find out more I emailed the National Museum of Ireland who got back to me straight away with a bit more information about their object. The Irish sickle was discovered in Westmeath and catalogued by William Wilde.

 

A spectacular Cheshire find now in the Museum of Liverpool is the Huxley Hoard, LVPL-C63F8A.

The Huxley Hoard (LVPL-C63F8A) Copyright: Museum of Liverpool. Licence: CC-BY-SA.

A hoard of silver bracelets with flat, punch-decorated bands belong to a well-known Hiberno-Scandinavian type found distributed in areas around both sides of the Irish Sea and produced in Ireland during the second half of the 9th and first half of the 10th centuries. The hoard like that from Cuerdale was probably part of a war chest belonging to the Vikings driven from Dublin by the Irish to settle in the Wirral, Lancashire and Cumbria at the beginning of the 10th century.

 

Early Medieval Irish mount (LVPL-D35B84) Copyright: Copyright: Portable Antiquities Scheme. Licence: CC-BY.

This mount from Doddington, Cheshire East LVPL-D35B84 is another great example of Irish metalworking and the decoration can be compared to mounts from the ‘near Navan’ hoard for which an eighth-ninth century date was suggested. Again probably brought to England due to Viking activity.

Objects connect us with people and places and figuring out their stories is a great way to connect us to the past and for me, to home.