Searching the PAS database for the first time

Searching the PAS database for the first time can be quite daunting. With nearly a million records, where do you start?

There are two main options to decide between: the simple search box (one long box) or the advanced search forms.

Simple searches using the simple search box

If you type some text into this box, the database will search every field for that string and retrieve every record that includes it. You can then search within these results using the Filters.

Advanced Search forms

To find the advanced search forms, you will need to find the 'Search database' button on the left-hand side, then choose from the list of advanced search types. 'Advanced Search' at the top is best for non-numismatic searches.

'Advanced Search' covers a restricted number of fields (to keep the form a manageable size) and you may not be able to find the field that you want to search on. If this is a problem, you can either download your search into an Excel file or try the Simple Search box and some SOLR syntax.

Downloading an Excel file

Once you have the search results you want, choose the 'Export as CSV' button at the top of the search results. (CSV = comma separated values). This will allow you to open or save the search using Excel, and you can then manipulate the results as you like.

Using the Simple Search box for sophisticated searches

The most powerful and flexible way to search the database is to use special syntax within the Simple Search box. You can interrogate every field with exactly the text or values you want to retrieve. A list of the field names can be found on the Searching our database help page. For example, if you want to search for early-medieval objects, enter

broadperiod:"EARLY MEDIEVAL"

Most of the fields are case-sensitive. If you want to search within these results - perhaps you are interested in early Anglo-Saxon objects, of the fifth to seventh centuries - then you can either use the Filters or you can write a more precise search. For sub-periods, the database codes the Early, Middle and Late options as 1, 2 and 3, so you will need to enter

broadperiod: "EARLY MEDIEVAL" fromsubperiod:1


Filters can be found down the right-hand side. They provide a quick way to split your search into smaller units and offer a few of the most useful options: object type, period, material, county, recording institution, workflow status, and some numismatic options. The filters are easily reversable to get back to your original search results, but it can be more helpful to open the filters in a new tab thus preserving your original results anyway.