Dealing with Special Finds when the FLO Office is Closed

Merry Christmas from the SWYOR PAS team! Our office will be closed until 2nd Jan 2020, so what do you do if you find something special?

Treasure

If you find potential Treasure, please email your local FLO with your name, the date of discovery, an image, and the findspot grid reference. Your email will prove that you reported the find promptly and the paperwork can be sorted in the new year.

Hoards

If you find a hoard which is undisturbed, please STOP DIGGING! We know it is hard to wait, but it is best for the archaeology if it is professionally excavated. Take photographs and send them to your local FLO with the grid reference and your name. DO NOT post on social media – the fewer people know about your find, the safer it is.

Discuss your find with the landowner. If it is safe to do so, leave the hoard in the ground. Mark the findspot in a subtle way, take a GPS reading and backfill. Your FLO will advise you and try to arrange professional excavation in the new year.

If the findpsot is public and it is not safe to leave the find in the ground, you may feel that you have to lift it yourself. Go slowly, take lots of photographs, and look out for different coloured soils or other finds. Record anything you spot with measurements, drawings and photos.

If the hoard is in a container, keep it as undisturbed as possible. If possible, wrap the hoard and the surrounding soil in clingfilm, slide a metal sheet under it, and lift it in one block. That way, details from the inside of the hoard can be preserved. Keep the whole block in a cool place until your FLO can arrange help.

Some examples of good pratice

WILT-0F898C is a hoard of Roman vessels which were disturbed as little as possible and not cleaned, allowing plant remains to be recovered. These tell us the time of year that the hoard was buried.

Roman scale pan and contents. Copyright: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
A Roman scale pan from WILT-0F898C and the vegetation inside
Roman vessel hoard WILT-0F898C Copyright: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
The hoard had been disturbed as little as possible, allowing the relationship between the items to be understood.

BM-C33636 is a coin hoard which was left in the ground until it could be professionally excavated. The vessel containing the coins was wrapped in bandages and lifted in its entirety before being excavated and conserved at the British Museum. The coins were removed in layers, revealing whether they had been added in groups or in one episode.

X-ray of the Roman coin hoard
Copyright: The British Museum
BM-C33636 was x-rayed to help guide the excavation process
Roman coin hoard being excavated at the British Museum
Copyright: The British Museum
BM-C33636 undergoing excavation and conservation

Thank you!

#ResponsibleDetecting in this way makes a really positive contribution to archaeology. #BeAHeritageHero!

Have a lovely Christmas, and see you in 2020 to #RecordYourFinds. See the Artefacts and Coins page of the Yorkshire County Pages for a list of local Finds Surgeries where you can visit your FLO.

National Volunteers Week 2018 – Meet the South and West Yorkshire Volunteer Team

To celebrate UK National Volunteers Week (1-7th June 2018), we’d like to introduce you to the hard working volunteers in the South and West Yorkshire office. Jared, Jack, Ian and Phil are Amy’s dedicated team, tirelessly helping to record the 1000s of artefacts that pass through the office each year, with very little grumbling! Everyone at PAS would like to say a heartfelt “Thank you” to all four.

Jack describes his experience of volunteering in his own words below. His main role is to add finds to the PAS database, research them and write descriptions. Jack also finds time to serve on the committee of his local detecting club. He is also kind enough to help out with filing when needed too!

Ian and Phil have very different and specialised skills. They are the photography team. Both are keen amateur photographers, upstanding members of their respective camera clubs, but who knew very little about archaeology before joining the PAS team, so they have enjoyed a very steep learning curve.

Ian - PAS photography volunteer
Ian – PAS photography volunteer. Copyright: West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service. License: CC-BY

Ian has bravely taken up the challenge of getting to grips with photographing flints, some of which are tiny microliths with extremely fine working which is very difficult even to see, let along show on an image. Flints are also often translucent, making them particularly to light effectively when photographing them. Ian photographs and then manipulates the images for a huge number of non-flint finds too. As well as giving up his time for the PAS, Ian is also the competition secretary for Ossett Camera Club.

Mesolithic Microlith SWYOR-0491F6
Mesolithic Microlith SWYOR-0491F6. Copyright West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service. License: CC-BY

Like Ian, Phil also routinely photographs and edits huge quantities of typical finds, but he has focussed on developing the best ways to photograph objects of silver and gold, which are tricky because they are so reflective. As well as the record images that go on the PAS database, he also creates more artistic compositions of finds which can be used for publications and displays. Before joining PAS, Phil also volunteered for English Heritage at Brodsworth Hall as a room guide, and he now juggles both roles.

Silver seal matrix SWYOR-7392EC
More artistic image of a silver seal matrix SWYOR-7392EC. Copyright: West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service. License CC-BY
Phil - PAS photography volunteer
Phil – PAS photography volunteer. Copyright: West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service. License: CC-BY

Both Ian and Phil come into the office to photograph finds, but they also undertake work at home, editing the photos they have taken. Additionally, they spend time at home editing photos that other FLOs send their way digitally. This work helps to improve the quality of some of the older or incomplete records on the PAS database.

All three volunteers have dedicated many, many hours to the PAS, both in the office and at home, and their contribution is hugely appreciated. Without their help, far fewer finds could be recorded onto the PAS database, and the quality of the images would certainly be much poorer. It is particularly impressive that all three of them combine their volunteering for PAS with other volunteer roles.

Jack - PAS volunteer
Jack – PAS volunteer. Copyright: West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service. License: CC-BY

This is how Jack describes his experience as a PAS volunteer: “Hello, I’m Jack Coulthard and I have been a PAS volunteer for just over ten years now. I have no background in archaeology but studied history at university in the late 1960s and then taught the subject for a couple of years. After that I had a complete change of career and spent the rest of my working life in the computer software industry. Although that is about as far as it is possible to get from history and archaeology I never lost interest in either discipline. After retiring I took up metal detecting and first met our FLO Amy Downes when I took some items to one of her recording days.

When Amy had a vacancy for a volunteer with the PAS in South and West Yorkshire, I didn’t have to think very hard before offering my services as I knew it would be a fascinating experience. And so it has proved. I now help with the recording of artefacts and every day in the office brings something new, from common items like Roman bronze coins to spectacular things like the collection of Early Medieval gold rings that were unearthed on the outskirts of Leeds and are now on display in the Leeds City Museum.

The West Yorkshire gold and garnet hoard (2008 T553) SWYOR-F86A02.
The West Yorkshire gold and garnet hoard (2008 T553) SWYOR-F86A02. Copyright The British Museum. License: CC BY-SA

If I had to choose a particular period that I am interested in it would be a difficult decision but I would probably choose the Roman period because they were such amazing craftsmen. I am always amazed at the quality and variety of their brooches and have a particularly soft spot for enamelled disc brooches. But all the artefacts that cross my desk, whatever period they belong to, are fascinating in their own way and, as there is such variety, I often find that I am dealing with something that I have never seen before, so am learning something new all the time and am looking forward to learning even more over the next few years.”

Recently, the Volunteer Team has had a new addition. Jared has recently finished an MA in Medieval History and has joined the team mainly to help with administrative tasks, but he is also learning about finds and how to add them to the PAS database. We’ll get him trained up in no time!

Thank you Jack, Ian, Phil and Jared for your amazing contribution to PAS and for helping Amy – please don’t ever leave!

Searching for a Link

PAS self-recorder and one-time PAS volunteer Andrew Ramsden describes his research into die-linking on a particularly nice Medieval coin that was minted exactly 800 years ago this year.

“When I was invited by my local FLO, Amy Downes, to assist in the recording of hammered coins at her office, I jumped at the chance as not only am I very interested in English hammered coinage, but I am also more than happy to help the PAS in any way I can.

It was during a volunteer day with Amy that I came across a complete voided short cross silver penny amongst a batch of coins I was recording. I quickly determined that the moneyer was PERES and it was from the York mint and a class 6c3 of Henry III. However, the mint signature appeared to read EVERy; it was one that I wasn’t familiar with and it doesn’t appear in the book by Christopher Wren on the Short Cross Coinage. Initially I thought that there had been a flaw in the punches used to form the last letter as I knew there was a mint signature of EVERV. When identifying short cross pennies at home I use my copy of J. P. Mass, SCBI 56, to confirm anything I am unsure of as I consider this book to be the “Bible” on this particular coinage, but as Amy didn’t hold a copy of the book in her office, I suggested that I would consult my copy and confirm it with her via email should I find anything.

SWYOR-6672A0; Medieval penny of Henry III, Class 6c3
SWYOR-6672A0; Medieval penny of Henry III, Class 6c3
Copyright: West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service
License: Attribution License

Sure enough when I consulted J. P. Mass there was indeed a mint signature of EVERy and it transpired that the York mint in this sub-class was a short lived one – there are only seven coins illustrated for this class and mint, and even better is the fact that of those seven coins, only two are of the same mint/moneyer/class combination. Upon closer inspection, the coin I identified appeared to match coin number 1881 VERY closely. When I viewed the illustration under my loupe I was surprised to see that it is near identical.

I contacted a friend called Tom Redmayne who is also a volunteer with the PAS and knows more about hammered coins than I have forgotten, to ask his opinion. Sure enough, he agreed with me and confirmed my opinion that I had in fact found a die link between the two coins. There is also a reverse die link with coin number 1880 and an obverse die link with coin number 1882.

For those of you who are unaware, let me take the time to explain what a die link is. At the larger mints, there will have been more than one pair of dies in operation at any one time. Two coins that are die linked are coins that have been struck from the same pair of dies and most probably by the same person. In class 6c3 there were only three main mints – London, Canterbury and Bury St Edmunds, and the mints of Winchester and York were added later and only very briefly. Only four moneyers worked out of the York mint and this coin is, I believe, an uncommon moneyer/mint/class/sub-class combination.

If you consider the number of coins churned out by any of the larger mints, and not only in this class, the likelihood of finding a pair of die linked coins is not very high. When you factor into the equation the brief operation of the York mint, the few moneyers working there and the fact that class 6c3 is a less common class for the York mint, then the probability of finding a single die linked pair of coins for this combination has to be reduced significantly. That’s why I am so excited to have found four die-linked coins within the space of three days (though granted, Mr. Mass did the hard work with three of them!).

After further research I have also found another obverse die link to a coin which is held at the Fitzwilliam museum, so all in all, from my identification of one coin it led to the linking of five coins that were conceivably all struck by the same person some 800 years ago. And people question why I like hammered coins?!

Obverse of CM.1290-2001; a York Mint Penny of Henry III.
Obverse of CM.1290-2001; a York Mint Penny of Henry III.
© The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Reverse of CM.1290-2001; a York Mint Penny of Henry III.
Reverse of CM.1290-2001; a York Mint Penny of Henry III. © The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Dr Martin Allen of The Fitzwilliam Museum has also read this article and has verified that my research is correct. He also pointed out to me that it is noted in British Numismatic Journal 33 (1964) by John Brand, in ‘Some Short Cross questions’ (p.67), that the specific dies for this class were supplied to the York mint on 3rd December AD 1217, so this coin will have been struck sometime thereafter, but not after AD 1218 as that is when the coinage of class 7a commenced.”

So, thanks to Andrew’s hard work and knowledge, we have identified links between 5 coins, and narrowed the date of manufacture of these coins down to just a 13 month period. An excellent result! The coin that triggered this discovery is recorded as SWYOR-6672A0 on the PAS database at https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/732496

Andrew has also summarised the main features he noted when matching the obverse of the coin to the published parallels:

i) The cross bar of the letter E breaks the crescent.

ii) Where the left hand upright of the letter N is punched higher than the right hand upright.

iii) Where the diagonal cross bar of the letter N terminates on the right hand upright.

iv) The size/style of the serifs on the uprights of the letter N.

v) The style of the letter H.

vi) The extra wide lower serif to the upright of the letter R.

vii) Where the central trefoil of the crown breaks/touches the inner circle.

viii) The 3 left hand hair curls.

ix) The general shape/style of the bust.

Yorkshire Finds Published in Britannia

A round-up of the most interesting Roman finds recorded by PAS in 2016 has recently been published in Britannia by our Roman National Finds Adviser, Sally Worrell. It features several special finds from Yorkshire.

Roman enamelled vessel
Roman enamelled patera. Copyright: York Museums Trust. License: Attribution License

A beautiful and colourful enamelled copper-alloy vessel was found at Eastrington (YORYM-20B68C). The handle bears the inscription VTERE FELIX (meaning ‘Use with luck!’) and was probably believed to bring the user good luck.

Roman P-Profile brooch
Roman P-profile brooch. Copyright: York Museums Trust. License: Attribution License

YORYM-4786D1 is a P-profiled brooch from Brantingham. It is a type believed to have been made on the Continent and used mainly by soldiers.

Roman Button and Loop Fastener
Roman Button and Loop Fastener. Copyright: West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service. License: Attribution License

Finally, a rare type of button and loop fastener was recorded from Hampole (SWYOR-1CA6D5). It is the only one like it recorded on the PAS database.

Full details of all these finds can be seen on the PAS database.