Meet The Volunteer – Denise Wilding

Tell us about yourself

I studied archaeology at the University of York, before completing a masters in medieval archaeology. I’m currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Warwick focusing on Roman tokens as part of the Token Communities in the Ancient Mediterranean Project. My thesis explores the way that as an everyday object, tokens are able to mediate social relations and play a role in community formation.

What does your role involve?

My current role involves researching and recording objects on the PAS database, as well as some photography and Photoshop.

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

I find it difficult to pick a period of history that I am most interested in, but I have always enjoyed studying objects, and in particular the way that objects can have biographies and life histories of their own. My undergraduate dissertation focused on early medieval dress accessories, and my masters dissertation focused on Late Medieval livery badges so I quite like these periods and their material culture. However, now I’m enjoying studying the Roman period in more depth for my PhD.

Why did you start volunteering for the PAS?

I started volunteering with the PAS three years ago to gain practical experience to sit alongside my academic focus on archaeological material culture. Through this I was able to find work as an Archaeological Collections Assistant, and then undertake internships with the PAS in Somerset, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering for the PAS?

I love learning about different types of objects through recording them. It’s nice to broaden my knowledge base and study different kinds of objects from all different periods. Disney singalongs in the office are also a highlight!

What is your favourite find from North Yorkshire that you have recorded on the PAS database and why?

It’s impossible to pick one thing, but I enjoy recording Early-Medieval and Roman coins, as it’s so satisfying to get an identification for them when they’re very worn. I also enjoy recording objects that we can speculate had particular significance for a person’s identity, such as this cosmetics mortar (YORYM-C05A08).

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

My favourite object is a copper alloy and enamel patera that was recorded in 2016 (YORYM-20B68C). It has a pattern of different coloured enamel squares around the body, and VTERE FELIX” (meaning “Use in happiness”) inscribed on the handle. I like how this object is so highly decorated, and is so different to most artefacts that I come across. It’s also interesting to think about how an object such as this might have had a specialised function in a religious or ritualised setting.