Districts of Derbyshire: Erewash

Erewash is a local government district and borough of eastern Derbyshire. It lies to the east of Derby and to the west Nottingham. The borough is home to 112,081 people and the towns of Ikeston and Long Eaton are located here.

Occupation in this area seems to date back to at least the Neolithic. Evidence of this can be seen in finds like this (DENO-37C042). This is an implement of unknown form, it is possibly a chisel, axe or a form of scraper tool. It is made from a fine, dark flint. The flake scars caused by the knapping process is obvious on this example as is the areas of retouch on the outer edge. This example dates from c. 3,500 BC – 2,100 BC.

Neolithic flint implement (DENO-37C042). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

Objects of the Bronze Age seem to be a rare occurrence in Erewash, given that only two finds have been recorded from the region on the PAS database. One of these is a very unusual object (LEIC-732185). It seems to be a bridle fitting probably dating to the late Bronze Age, but possibly dating to the Early Medieval period. There is a central strap bar formed of two parts, one upper and one lower. A leather strap would have passed between them. This object also serves to highlight how difficult some objects are to identify and date accurately, due to style and rarity.

Late Bronze Age to Early Medieval Bridle fitting (LEIC-732185). Copyright: Wendy Scott. License: CC BY-SA

Erewash continued to be occupied throughout the Iron Age, as this next object shows (DENO-B0A936). It is an incomplete but beautiful beaded torc that dates from the late Iron Age to early Roman period. The object consists of one terminal and ten beads. The other terminal has broken, and is missing. Each of the ten beads has a raised central plain with a beaded line to each side. It dates from the 1st to 3rd centuries and was found near Ockbrook.

Iron Age Beaded Torc (DENO-B0A936). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

The next two objects are interesting pieces and show that even the Romans were partial to to fun and games in Derbyshire! The first is instantly recognisable and is commonly used today (DENO-81AC76). It is a die made of copper alloy and the numbers are in dot form on the surface of each face. The second is a beautiful coloured object (DENO-4AE6C1). It is probably a gaming piece or bead made of a bright blue glass. The front face of this object is domed and the reverse is flat. There appears to be a hole through the centre which seems to be wider at the bottom than the top. Both objects date to the Roman period AD c. 43 – AD 410 .

Roman Die (DENO-81AC76). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA
Roman blue glass probable gaming piece (DENO-4AE6C1). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

During the Early Medieval period, Erewash was a busy place. The town of Ilkeston was founded in the 6th century and seems to have derived it’s name from its supposed founder Elch or Elcha, who was an Anglian chieftain (Elka’s Tun = Elka’s Town). This zoomorphic strap end dates from a few centuries later (DENO-839B93). The strap end has a zoomorphic (or animal) terminal at one end with a wolf, snake or dog head usually depicted. There is a decorated panel with a design of interlocking knotwork in the centre of the object. This is a lovely example and is almost complete. It dates from the 9th Century AD.

Early Medieval Zoomorphic Strap End (DENO-839B93). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

Finds from the Medieval period are more common in this region than previous periods. This gold annular brooch is one of the more special items from the area (DENO-1AF752). It has been decorated with a pair of clasped hands on one edge and the pin has a collar at the junction of the loop and shaft. The inscription reads “IOV I: IVIL VOI ONLI”. It appears garbled, but it can be reconstructed as “Love, I will you only”. Which suggests it was given as a gift between lovers. It is a beautiful object with a wonderful and loyal sentiment behind it.

Medieval Gold Annular Brooch (DENO-1AF752). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

More finds are discovered in the region of Erewash from the Post Medieval period than are found from any other period. One of these finds is a silver soldino of Doge Leonardo Lorendano of Venice (DENO-2B1DD6). The coin depicts the standing figure of Christ on the obverse (front), with the standing figure of St Mark with the kneeling Doge at his feet on the reverse. This object highlights how interconnected places like Derbyshire, and the rest of the country, were at this time with the rest of Europe. During the 15th and 16th century there was a shortage of English struck halfpennies within the economy of the country, so people began filling the gap with foreign coinage. This is an example of one of the coins they used instead, this coin has a similar weight in silver as an English halfpenny. This coin dates from AD 1501 – AD 1521.

Post Medieval Soldino of Doge Leonardo Lorendano (DENO-2B1DD6). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

 

 

Districts of Derbyshire: South Derbyshire

South Derbyshire is a local government district of Derbyshire. The area contains one third of the National Forest, which is a scheme designed to increase woodland cover to about a third of all the land within its boundary. Within the district are also the towns of Melbourne and Swadlincote, and the villages of Repton and Ticknall.

Archaeological finds show that the area has been inhabited since at least the Mesolithic period. This flint blade (DENO-2CBE33) was formed using a soft hammer (perhaps made of bone, wood or softer stone), which is evident from the shallow ripple marks on the surface. It dates from the period 8,300 – 2,100 BC.

Mesolithic flint blade (DENO-2CBE33). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

Occupation continued into the Bronze Age as shown by this Middle Bronze Age axe (DENO-B7AB01). This is an incomplete example of a palstave axehead, as shown by the tell-tale flared sides or flanges. This example dates from c. 1,500 – 1,150 BC and was found near Drakelow.

Bronze Age palstave axehead, (DENO-B7AB01), Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY.

Finds from the Iron Age appear quite rare in this area. However, archaeology does show that people were settling and there is evidence for the building of hillforts in the surrounding areas. This object is an interesting one (DENO-D4EF33). It is a complete strap junction and dates from c. 100 BC – AD c. 100, so it crosses into the Roman period. It has been designated a find of note due to its rarity in the region and the fact it is complete.

Iron Age Strap Junction (DENO-D4EF33) Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

By the Roman period South Derbyshire was a bustling place to be, with lead mining beginning in the Peak District and trade booming in the surrounding areas. This Colchester derivative Polden Hill type brooch, dating from AD c. 75 – c. 175 suggests that trade was successful in the area (PUBLIC-4289AD). This type of brooch is more common in the West Midlands and Staffordshire, and to see one here suggests a movement of people during this period and possibly good trade links between regions.

Roman Colchester Derivative (Polden Hill) Type brooch (PUBLIC-4289AD), Copyright: Roger Thomas. License: CC BY-SA

During the Early Medieval period, Repton became a vitally important place. Christianity was reintroduced to the Midlands here and it is where some of the members of the Mercian Royal family, descendants of Peada, were baptised and buried. This object (DENO-08BD33) is known as a sword pyramid. These would have been attached to the scabbard with a piece of string, the string would then be used to tie the sword into the scabbard. This process ensured that the wearer would be unable to draw his sword in anger or during an argument, thus preventing the beginnings of a blood feud. This object is a simpler version of similar objects found with the Staffordshire Hoard. It dates from AD 600 – 650 , contemporary with Repton Abbey and with parts of the Staffordshire Hoard.

Early Medieval sword pyramid (DENO-08BD33) Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

Many Medieval finds have been discovered in South Derbyshire, including a sterling imitation long cross penny of John II of Avesnes, Count of Hainault (WMID-6975D9). However it is always exciting when a find comes in that is instantly recognisable, like this one (WMID-68F235). This is a key and it dates from AD c. 1150 – c. 1400. This kind of object can show that not much has changed between then and now.

Medieval key (WMID-68F235) Copyright: Birmingham Museums Trust. License: CC BY-SA

The final object dates from the Post Medieval period, AD c. 1500 – c. 1700 . It is an intriguing object (PUBLIC-6FF674), it comprised of 3 objects, a seal, nut cracker and a pipe tamper. This object shows the industrious nature of the Post Medieval peoples and their need, like ours, for efficiency and quick solutions to problems.

Post Medieval seal matrix (PUBLIC-6FF674) Copyright: Roger Thomas. License: CC BY-SA

 

Meet the FLA: Helen

Tell us about yourself.

I am the Finds Liaison Assistant for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. I have been working with the PAS for three years and this is my second time working in Derby. I have been FLA since December 2016.

What does your role involve?

My role involves recording archaeological finds brought in by detectorists, either at club meetings or at Finds Days. These finds I research and describe and put all information required onto a record on the database. I assist the FLO with his work load. I photograph objects, and manipulate the image using Photoshop for a clear accurate image for the database. I visit clubs and attend Finds Days. I will be helping to train Volunteers, as well as responding to any queries. I also will be dealing with Treasure, old and new cases.

What area of history/archaeology are you most interested in?

All areas of history interest me, I have always held a long standing passion for British history and archaeology. Recently however I have been researching the Plantagenet Dynasty, and I have been fascinated by their rise and fall.  I am fond of recording Medieval coins, and finds of the Medieval period, some can be quite a challenge.  I also enjoy researching the Early Medieval period.  Some of the most inspiring and beautiful objects in the country date from this period, for instance The Staffordshire Hoard and Sutton Hoo, there is also the countless manuscripts produced at this time.

Why did you start working for the PAS?

I began to work with the PAS because I wanted to do something with my Archaeology Honours degree. When my partner found a volunteer position on the Birmingham Museums website, I knew that was the role for me. Three years later, I’ve written over 1200 records and I’ve never looked back.

What do you enjoy most about working for the PAS?

In this role we handle ancient objects daily, we get to handle objects that have only been handled once since they were dropped, or buried. We have a tangible link to the past that is not common in other roles. I have enjoyed the challenge of researching objects and finding out where to start with objects I have never seen before. But most of all I think the thing I enjoy most about working with the PAS is the fact that it is a perfect fit for me, the people are amazing, the objects are beautiful and challenging. I love this job.

What is the most exciting find from Derbyshire you have recorded so far? 

I have to say that the most exciting find I have recorded from Derbyshire has to be this one  DENO-4F12EB this a complete and beautiful decorated flat axe of the Early Bronze Age, dating from c. 2250 BC – 1900 BC. This fits with Early Bronze Age (EBA phase II / III), of metalworking stage IV-VI, which corresponds to Needham’s (1996) Period 2-3 circa 2250 – 1900 CAL. BC. It is decorated with a series of incised lines forming what is commonly called a ‘Rain Pattern’. For me this was a stunning example of a flat axe and the decoration was so clear. An axe of this quality is rare in this part of the world and as a result this is a Find of Note of County Importance. It was an amazing artefact to record.

A complete decorated flat axe of the Early Bronze Age DENO-4F12EB. Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY

What is your favourite find from Derbyshire that has been recorded on the PAS database and why?

This has been tricky to pick one, but I think this Medieval coin, DENO-17D7A5 is definitely a favourite! This is a Cross and crosslets (or Tealby) type penny of Henry II, it dates from the period AD 1158 – AD 1165. Tealby pennies are notoriously difficult to identify, they are often very worn and the detail is often difficult to read or see. This object however is in remarkable condition, and one of the best quality Tealby coins I have seen! Much of the detail is clear and present. Amazing discovery!

A near complete, Medieval, Cross and Crosslets (Tealby) type penny of Henry II. DENO-17D7A5. Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC BY.