Why did I want to volunteer? In January 2019 I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer in a conservation project and found the answer at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery with the Portable Antiquities Scheme. It has been so much fun and as a volunteer I have been encouraged to learn about the many different artefacts we are brought by the detectorists, each one is part of our social history. You wonder who has handled the objects, who created them, what they were for, how they may have evolved into modern items used today – clothing items, domestic utensils, metal objects, coins etc. So it is very much a learning, hands-on role, and we have been given many opportunities to go on training courses, visit the British Museum and to handle real treasure!
Favourite historical period? I think post medieval, (AD 1509-1660) as this period seems to be very much about Britain evolving and developing.
Favourite place? We recently visited Windsor castle, which has so much history, with its beautiful state rooms, art, grounds and is a majestic historic family home. We went on a beautiful Autumn day, and all the visitors seemed to be enthralled by what they were seeing.
Favourite find? The little apple corer/pastry jigger (ref WMID-9EE891). I can imagine it being used in a post-medieval kitchen! The find is a complete Post-Medieval/ Early-Modern copper alloy probable apple corer, consisting of the tongue-shaped utensil end and rectangular-sectioned shank. It measures 49.19mm in length, 14.34mm width at utensil end and weighs 5g.
The utensil is light brown/green coloured, with the end U-shaped in cross-section and a serrated edge. The outside surface is decorated with inverted and narrowing V-shaped grooves, extending from the edge serrations, and a pair of transverse grooves closer to the narrower end.
There are similar items on the PAS database, some made from sheeps bone. Two personal comments made by PAS FLOs give a greater history of the apple corers/cheese scoops/pastry jiggers:
Kate Sumnall, FLO, comments: ‘There are bone scoops recorded from excavations in London which traditionally are known as apple corers, cheese scoops, etc.’ (pers.comm. 2013). Peter Reavill, FLO, adds: ‘A number of Medieval apple corers made from the front legs of sheep were discovered during the Canterbury Whitefriars excavations – all from pits associated with the friary and businesses outside the friary’ (pers.comm. 2013).
Bucket list find? A beautiful piece of gold jewellery! We can but dream!
What are my other interests outside archaeology?
I love to make things, particularly curtains, cushions, reupholstery, renovating clothes – you can see the theme of conservation I have spent lockdown making curtains for my daughter-in-law, grand-daughter and even for my own home (when time permits!). Gardening is also a great love. And family history.