Meet the FLO: Alastair

Alastair Willis, FLO for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire
Alastair Willis, FLO for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Copyright: Alastair Willis. License: All Rights Reserved.

Tell us about yourself.

I have been the Finds Liaison Officer for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire since May 2015. I started out as a PAS volunteer in Wiltshire before getting two Headley Trust funded PAS internships, firstly in Wiltshire and Hampshire, and then in Lincolnshire. I also volunteered in the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum.

What does your role involve?

As FLO, I am responsible for identifying and recording archaeological objects found by members of the public in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. I also visit metal detecting club meetings, attend finds days and other outreach events at museums, and deal with Treasure finds.

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

I studied Ancient History and Archaeology at University and then did a Master’s degree in Egyptology, so my specialism used to be the relations between Egypt and the Aegean in the Late Bronze Age, Having moved into British archaeology, I am most interested in the Roman period, particularly Roman coins, but I really enjoy seeing objects from other periods as well, especially the Iron Age.

Why did you start working for the PAS?

The PAS really attracted me because FLOs and volunteers get the opportunity to see and handle objects from all periods of human history. The PAS’s goal to record objects found by members of the public and make them accessible to both researchers and the public really appealed to me. I think the preservation of our heritage is hugely important and requires the cooperation between many different parties including archaeologists, museums, metal detectorists, landowners and other members of the public.

What do you enjoy most about working for the PAS?

I get to work with and learn about such a wide range of objects, many of which have only just been discovered.

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

This stone head (DENO-B52638) potentially dates to the Iron Age, but it is possible that it is much more recent.

Stone head possibly dating to the Iron Age
Stone head possibly dating to the Iron Age (DENO-B52638). Copyright: Derby City Council. License: CC-BY

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

I think the Ashbourne Hoard (DENO-651C91 and DENO-64DAE1) is the one of the most fascinating finds from Derbyshire. It consists of two gold aurei of Carausius, a Roman emperor who ruled Britain and parts of Gaul between AD 286 and 293. Gold coins of Carausius are extremely rare finds. These two coins would have represented two months pay for a soldier at the time.

A gold coin called an aureus of the emperor Carausius
Gold aureus of Carausius from the Ashbourne Hoard (DENO-651C91). Copyright: Derby City Council. License: CC-BY.
A gold coin called an aureus of the emperor Carausius
Gold aureus of Carausius from the Ashbourne Hoard (DENO-64DAE1). Copyright: Derby City Council. License: CC-BY.