Meet the Volunteers: Sophie

Sophie holding a medieval gold ring.
Sophie with a medieval gold ring. Copyright: Sophie Mander. License: All rights reserved.

Tell us about yourself.

I have been a volunteer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Derbyshire since October 2016. I am currently on a gap year after finishing high school, where I studied History for A Level, and next year I will be studying English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick.

What does your role involve?

As I volunteer, I record and identify objects found by members of the public with the help of the Finds Liaison Officer for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, Alastair. I also photograph objects, post information about the PAS in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire on social media and assist at outreach events at Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

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

For a few years my area of interest has been medieval English history, particularly the Wars of the Roses. Thanks to the PAS, I am now also interested in the history and archeology of Imperial Rome and early medieval Europe.

Why did you start working for the PAS?

Volunteering for the PAS gives you a hands-on approach to history, and has shown me how much understanding the past relies on using individual, often ordinary, objects to discover how people used to live, work, eat, drink, spend money, trade goods, wear their clothes and perform other similar tasks. The PAS and its network of FLOs and volunteers is vitally important in contributing to the global effort of preserving these little yet crucial pieces of history from being lost forever.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering for the PAS?

The detective work of figuring out the identity of an object from a variety of sources.

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

This post-medieval pipe tamper (DENO-0C6CC4) dates to around AD 1700-1900, and is shaped as a devil-like figure.

Pipe tamper in the shape of a devil standing on one foot.
Pipe tamper in the shape of a devil standing on one foot (DENO-0C6CC4). 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 gold ring (DENO-0B1431) dates to the 15th century and bears the French inscription “en bon desir”, which translates as “in good desire”. I find this ring interesting as it offers a glimpse into the perceptions and practices of romantic love during the medieval period.

A 15th-century posy ring with the French inscription "en bon desir", which translates as "in good desire".
A 15th-century gold ring inscribed in French (DENO-0B1431). Copyright: Derby Museums Trust. License: CC-BY.