News from the Scheme

Supporting the Portable Antiquities Scheme

Published: 2 days, 14 hours ago Author:

Over the years we have had many enquiries from our supporters asking how they can further support the Portable Antiquities Scheme and in response to this we have launched a JustGiving page. With your help through JustGiving we can continue re-writing the archaeology and history of England, Wales and your local areas. You can now donate to support the work of the PAS at https://www.justgiving.com/finds/

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Thank You and Good Luck Roger

Published: Friday 31st July 2015 Author:

Upon the retirement of Roger Bland from the British Museum, all in PAS would like to express a massive debt of gratitude to him for all he has done for British archaeology. His work bringing about the PAS and the reform of Treasure has not only ensured that the most important archaeological finds have been acquired by museums up and down the country for local people to learn about and enjoy, but has also led to a great advancement in knowledge through the recording and further study of these finds, and the identification of new sites that have come to light because of them. Best of luck for the future Roger...

Roger Bland sorting coin hoard bag 1

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PAS at the Festival of British Archaeology 2015 - The North

Published: Saturday 11th July 2015 Author:

In this final instalment, we highlight the 2015 Festival of Archaeology (11th - 26th July 2015) events involving the Portable Antiquities Scheme's (PAS) Finds Liaison Officers (FLOs) in the North of England. The Festival is coordinated by the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) and offers members of the public the chance to explore their local archaeology through a range of outreach events and activities.

On Thursday 16th July (14:00 onwards), South Ribble Museum will be hosting an illustrated lecture and drop-in archaeological finds afternoon with Dot Boughton, FLO for Cumbria and Lancashire. Dot will talk about the discovery and significance of the Silverdale Hoard, the third largest Viking silver hoard,found in 2011 and laterpurchased by Lancashire County Council's Museum Service.As part of the Treasures of South Ribble exhibition, South RibbleMuseum is currently displaying 20 coins from the Cuerdale Hoard, the largest Viking silver hoard from western Europe, on loan from the British Museum. Dot will also be helping to identify and record archaeological finds for members of the public at Kendal Museum on Friday 17th July (11:00 - 14:00).

Number 18: The Silverdale Hoard

FLO for Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside, Vanessa Oakden, is running a couple of finds surgeries to identify and record finds this July, coinciding with the Festival of Archaeology. She will be at the Museum of Liverpool on Wednesday 15th July (14:00 - 16:00) and at Manchester Museum on Friday 17th July (10:00 - 16:00).

To coincide with the Festival of Archaeology, the Royal Numismatic Society and the British Numismatic Society are hosting a joint day conference on coin hoarding at the Yorkshire Museum, York on Saturday 11th July (10:15 - 16:30) which will discuss the most recent research on the Viking Vale of York treasure and the newly acquired Bedale hoard, amongst others. There will be contributions from several of our current volunteers, Carl Savage (Lancashire and Cumbria) and Rachel Cubitt (North and East Yorkshire), as well as former PAS staff, Andrew Woods and Eleanor Ghey. See the conference's Eventbrite webpage for the full programme and details about booking.

In the North-East, our new FLO for Durham and Darlington, Ellie Cox, will be at the Museum of Archaeology's new gallery at the redeveloped Palace Green Library in Durham to identify archaeological finds unearthed by members of the public on Friday 17th July (13:00 - 15:00).

There are lots of other archaeological outreach activities taking place nationwide this July and you can search to find out what's happening on your doorstep on the Festival of Archaeology's website. If you're attending a Festival event, make sure to complete the Festival's visitor survey about your experience for a chance to win a £50 Amazon voucher. If you don't get to meet your local Finds Liaison Officer at one of their finds days this month, check our upcoming events to find out when your local FLO is holding their next drop-in session.

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PAS at the Festival of British Archaeology 2015 - The Midlands

Published: Friday 10th July 2015 Author:

The Council for British Archaeology's (CBA) twenty-fifth annual Festival of Archaeology takes place this month (11th - 26th July 2015) and following round-ups of the events involving Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) staff in the South East and South West of England, this instalment looks at what our Finds Liaison Officers (FLOs) and volunteers based in the Midlands are taking part in.

Wendy Scott (FLO for Leicestershire and Rutland) is attending an Anglo-Saxon activity day at Harborough Museum on Wednesday 22nd July (10:00 - 16:00). Finds from the Time Team excavation of an Anglo-Saxon burial ground at West Langton will be on display and Wendy, who attended the Time Team excavation, will be showing other Anglo-Saxon artefacts from the district recorded by the PAS. Wendy is also attending Charnwood Museum's 'Day of Archaeology' on Saturday 25th July (11:00 - 16:00). Visitors can bring any finds to be identified and recorded by her as well as having a go at detecting for 'treasure' in a sandpit with members of Loughborough Coin and Search Society.

Our new FLO for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, Alastiar Willis, will be at Derby Museum and Art Gallery on Wednesday 22nd July (10:00 - 14:00) for an archaeological finds day identifying artefacts brought along by visitors and presenting treasures from the Museum's collection in object handling activities.

For further information about these and other events taking place in the Midlands during the 2015 Festival of Archaeology please see the CBA's Festival website. The fourth and final instalment about the PAS' involvement in the Festival of Archaeology, to be posted here soon, will look at events taking place in the North of England.

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PAS at the Festival of British Archaeology 2015 - The South East

Published: Thursday 9th July 2015 Author:

In this second instalment, we look at upcoming events involving the Portable Antiquities Scheme's (PAS) Finds Liaison Officers (FLOs) in South-East England as part of the 2015 Festival of Archaeology (11th - 26th July). The Festival of Archaeology is a nationwide fortnight-long festival of outreach events and activities offering members of the public the chance to explore their local archaeology. The annual Festival is coordinated by the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) and celebrates its twenty-fifth year in 2015.

Anni Byard, the Scheme's FLO for Oxfordshire and West Berkshire, is helping to supervise the Discovering Dorchester research project run by Oxford Archaeology and the University of Oxford's School of Archaeology. Dorchester is the only known site of Iron Age, Roman and Anglo-Saxon urban settlement unobscured by later development. The sixth season of excavations returns to Dorchester's allotments to continue exploring the early 2nd and 1st century AD Roman town. The excavation team are regularly updating ablog about the discoveries being made on site, and there will be an open day on Saturday 18th July (12:30 - 17:00) with guided tours of the excavation trenches and finds and hands on activities. As well as being the Finds Officer at Dorchester, Anni will also be identifying finds at the West Berkshire Museum in Newbury on Wednesday 15th July (14:00 - 16:00), and at Abingdon County Hall Museum on Thursday 23rd July (10:30 - 16:00) alongside Roman themed family activities and the Gateway to the Gods exhibition about Roman settlement in the area.

Shorwell, Isle of Wight - Midsummer Fair

On the Isle of Wight, our FLO for the island, Frank Basford, will be at Newport Roman Villa on Saturday 25th July (11:00 - 15:00) to identify and record finds brought along by visitors. There will also be a range of craft activities and a family treasure hunt on offer at the villa. Back on the mainland, Faye Minter of the Suffolk PAS team will also be on hand to identify archaeological finds discovered by members of the public at Quatrefoil's 'Bringing Local History Alive' event presenting their research on the local history of several mid-Suffolk villages on Saturday 11th July (10:00 16:00) at St Mary's Church Rickinghall Inferior.

This month, Jen Jackson (FLO for Medway and Kent) is holding drop-in finds identification surgeries at Maidstone County Hall on Friday 17th July (17:00 - 18:00) and at the Beany in Canterbury on Monday 20th July (10:00 - 13:00). She is also offering dedicated appointments on these two days but these must be booked in advance.

As well as these open days and finds surgeries, our newly appointed FLO for Essex, Ben Paites will be heading a Twitter campaign during the Festival of Archaeology on the Colchester Museums Twitter feed, profiling finds that have come into the museum through PAS (both Treasure and other finds) and explaining about his role as a FLO for the county.

Find out what our FLOs in the Midlands are up to during the Festival in the third of four instalments, coming soon. For further information about events taking place in the South-East during the 2015 Festival of Archaeology please see the CBA's Festival website.

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PAS at the Festival of British Archaeology 2015 - The South West

Published: Wednesday 8th July 2015 Author:

Celebrating its twenty-fifth year, the Festival of Archaeology is a nationwide fortnight-long festival of outreach events and activities coordinated by the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) which offers members of the public the chance to explore their local archaeology. In the first of four instalments about the Portable Antiquities Scheme's (PAS) involvement in the 2015 Festival of Archaeology (11th - 26th July), we take a look at events run and attended by the Scheme's Finds Liaison Officers (FLOs) in the South-West of England.

Danielle Wootton, FLO for Devon, returns to the Romano-British site at Ipplepen this month for a fifth season of excavations led by the University of Exeter, the PAS' partner hosts for the county. The site was discovered by metal detectorists who found and reported a concentration of Roman coins to the PAS. The subsequent excavations have revealed a Roman road and an important late- and post-Roman cemetery, thought to relate to the largest Roman settlement west of Exeter, featured in the third series of the BBC programme Digging for Britain earlier this year. The PAS' National Finds Adviser for Iron Age and Roman Coins, Sam Moorhead, will be joining Danielle for the excavation open day on Saturday 25th July 2015, which will include stalls, reenactors and children's activities. The Ipplepen Community Hub behind the village's Methodist Church will be serving refreshments and displaying information about the archaeological project. If you can't make it to the open day then you can read about this year's discoveries on the Ipplepen Archaeological Project blog.

Royal Cornwall Museum, Fab Finds Day

Our FLO for Cornwall, Anna Tyacke, also has a busy July ahead. She will be on hand to identify archaeological finds at both the 'Hands on History' day at Royal Cornwall Museum on Saturday 18th July (10:00 - 16:00), and an open day at the ongoing Bronze Age and Iron Age excavations at Boden on the Lizard Peninsula on Saturday 11th July (10:30 - 17:00). The Royal Cornwall Museum's Hands on History Hub is a brand new interactive learning resource for engaging visitors with the Treasure finds on display in the Museum through reproduction objects, games and activities. On the 18th July, the Hub will be shining the spotlight on seal matrixes with a 'Sealed in the Past' workshop.

In Dorset, the county's FLO, Ciorstaidh Hayward-Trevarthen, is attending lots of events during the Festival to meet members of the public. She will be in the village of Long Bredy in west Dorset on Saturday 25th July (11:00 - 16:30) for a day of test-pit digging and geophysical survey with local residents to find evidence of the settlement's early origins, followed by the experimental archaeology day with fun family activities at the Ancient Technology Centre in Cranborne on Sunday 26th July (10:00 - 16:00). Earlier in the month, Ciorstaidh will be running a drop-in finds identification service to coincide with a community open day at Priest's House Museum and Garden in Wimborne on Saturday 18th July (10:00 - 16:00), as well as at Sturminster Newton Museum on Thursday 23rd July (10:00 - 15:00).

Kurt explains things

Similarly, Laura Burnett (FLO for Somerset) will be at a public finds identification day at Wells and Mendip Museum on Thursday 23rd July (11:00 -15:00) to help identify and record archaeological artefacts found by the public whilst out walking, gardening or metal detecting. Completing the PAS' line up of events in the South-West, Kurt Adams (FLO for Gloucestershire and Avon) will be at Blaise Castle House Museum for an event celebrating Bristol's archaeology on Sunday 26th July (11:00 - 16:00).

For further information about these and other events taking place in the South-West during the 2015 Festival of Archaeology please see the CBA's Festival website. The second instalment about the PAS' involvement in the Festival of Archaeology, to be posted here soon, will look at events taking place in the South East of England.

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Detectorists' finds go on public dispaly

Published: Monday 8th June 2015 Author:

Artefacts found by metal detector users have gone on display at The Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock for the first time. The Portable Antiquities Scheme working with the Oxford Blues Metal Detecting Club and Oxfordshire County Museum Services have created a display showing some of the most important and exciting finds made by members of the club. A silver Roman coin hoard, a rare medieval dog-lead harness and a gilded Saxon brooch are just a few of the objects on display until the end of August. This is the first time that objects discovered and owned by detector users have gone on display in the museum, and it is hoped this will become a regular feature.

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Grant to support the study of PAS finds from Cheshire

Published: Thursday 23rd April 2015 Author:

An exciting opportunity has been offered by Chester Archaeological Society to encourage the study and publication of objects (or groups/types of object) reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme from Cheshire and adjoining areas, to ensure that their potential contribution to the understanding of the archaeology and history of the county is realised. It is therefore offering a grant of GBP 700 every two years to help suitable persons to undertake such research. It is a condition of the grant that the results of the research shall be offered for first publication as an article in the Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society.

Currently 5,591 objects have been recorded on the database from Cheshire and this grant will allow these finds to be researched in more detail adding to our knowledge of Cheshire's past.

For more information and an application form visit http://www.chesterarchaeolsoc.org.uk/grants&awards.html

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Recognising the Contribution of Student Volunteers to the Portable Antiquities Scheme during Student Volunteering Week

Published: Wednesday 25th February 2015 Author:

To mark Student Volunteering Week (23rd February - 1st March 2015), the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) has surveyed their student volunteers to find out about their motivations for and experience of volunteering. The survey results highlight the invaluable contribution of student volunteers to the work of the Scheme and the importance of archaeological volunteer opportunities for students' skills development and career prospects.

Now in its fourteenth year, Student Volunteering Week is a national celebration of the achievements and impact of student volunteers in their local communities. The PAS aims to increase opportunities for active public involvement in archaeology, and about 20% of current volunteers combine volunteering with full- or part-time study. In 2014, the Scheme was awarded funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a five year initiative called PASt Explorers to expand volunteer capacity and training opportunities. As part of this initiative, an on-line survey of current and recent student volunteers was conducted to find out more about their involvement.

PAS student volunteers can learn to identify and record archaeological artefacts onto the PAS database with their local Finds Liaison Officer (FLO). The survey reveals the extent of other activities that student volunteers also participate in, including photography, photo-editing, excavation of Treasure case sites, attendance of training courses, and assistance at museum finds days and metal-detecting rallies. In answer to what they enjoyed most about volunteering with the PAS, the overwhelming response was that student volunteers enjoyed handling a wide range of artefacts and learning about local material culture, which some felt was lacking at undergraduate degree level. One respondent said, "Volunteering for the PAS has given me experience handling and researching objects that I would not otherwise have had. It has given me opportunities to take part in many different activities, train others and generally allowed me to develop a broad skills set". Most students appear to have heard of the PAS before starting to volunteer but had not used the database and were "surprised at the breadth of work the PAS does through its FLOs and finds experts".

Many of the Finds Liaison Officers across the country are involved in teaching university courses. Lauren Proctor, Finds Liaison Officer for the North East, runs a weekly session on artefact handling and recording for students at the University of Newcastle. The FLO for Sussex, Stephanie Smith, has visited students enrolled in the MA in Artefact Studies at University College London and the PAS has hosted student placements for this course. Most of the respondents were studying for Bachelor's and Master's degrees and studying subjects including Archaeology, Ancient History, History, and Museum and Heritage Studies. Many of them cited work experience as their reason for starting to volunteer with the PAS, but others also began volunteering out of personal interest and for research purposes. The objects recorded by volunteers help to generate new data about the archaeology and history of England and Wales which is then freely available to students to use in their own research. For one respondent, "the experience has opened my eyes to the huge potential value of the PAS for research. I used PAS data for a research project as part of my MA I love the fact that I have helped to record objects which otherwise would be unknown to the general public and to researchers."

The expectations of student volunteers were exceeded in terms of how much they learned, the skills they had gained and their level of enjoyment. All of the respondents said they would recommend volunteering with the PAS to other students. One student said this was because the PAS "offers a unique chance to handle and identify large numbers of archaeological objects, and to understand the data held on the PAS database. The training offered to volunteers is also incredibly valuable."

Of those who had completed their studies, several said that their experience of volunteering with the PAS had helped them to gain employment in their chosen field. One respondent said volunteering with the PAS "helped me to get job interviews, and led to my first paid employment - working in the heritage sector." With sponsorship from the Headley Trust, the PAS has offered numerous internships over the last 6 years, many of which have been taken up by recent graduates with prior volunteering experience with the Scheme.

To find out more about the PASt Explorers volunteer project and how to get involved in the Scheme, please see the webpage here.

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Largest Anglo-Saxon coin hoard tops list of latest nationwide treasure finds

Published: Tuesday 10th February 2015 Author:

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On the occasion of the launch of the Treasure Annual Report 2012 by Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture, at the British Museum, the largest Anglo Saxon coin hoard found since the Treasure Act began is announced. This amazing archaeological hoard of around 5,200 coins was discovered in the village of Lenborough, Buckinghamshire. This discovery highlights the ongoing importance of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure Act in ensuring that the most important finds are secured for the nation.

The coins were found wrapped in a lead sheet and buried in the ground for safekeeping. The coins are of Æthelred II (978-1016) and Cnut (1016-35), and were buried towards the end of Cnut's reign. The lead wrapping provided protection against the elements while the hoard was in the ground, with the result that the coins are very well preserved. The hoard contains coins from over forty different mints around England, and provides a rare source of information on the circulation of coinage at the time the hoard was buried.

Under the Treasure Act 1996 there is a legal obligation for finders to report Treasure. Since the advent of the Act the number of finds reported has increased fivefold from 201 cases in 1998 (the first full year of the Act) to 993 in 2013, and 1008 in 2014. If declared Treasure such finds may be acquired by museums, with preference going to the local museum. Of the 990 finds reported Treasure in 2012, 368 were acquired by 100 local museums, so they can be displayed to the public close to where the items were discovered. These include the Bedale, North Yorkshire Hoard ofViking jewellery, weaponry and ingots (2012 T373; YORYM-CEE620) acquired by York Museums Trust, and a Roman silver bracelet from Dalton area, Cumbria (2012 T627; PAS-A7DC11) acquired by the Dock Museum.

Increasingly finders and landowners have waived their right to a reward, enabling museums to acquire Treasure at reduced or no cost. In 2012, 137 parties waived their right to a reward in 93 cases; more than double the number of cases five years ago. Museums have also benefited from funding being made available through the Art Fund, the Headley Trust, The Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, andthe V&A Purchase Grant fund, which all funded museum acquisitions of Treasure in 2012.

In Room 2 at the British Museum a case is dedicated to displaying recent finds recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme or reported Treasure. This allows interesting and important discoveries to be seen in London before they are acquired by local museums.

Another case in Room 68, the Citi Money Gallery, is also often used to display recent finds reported through Treasure and the Portable Antiquities Scheme. A new display of a selection of coins from the Lenborough hoard opens on February 10 to coincide with the launch of the Treasure Annual Report. This will provide some public access to the hoard while it is going through the Treasure process.

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum:

'The publication of the latest Treasure Report demonstrates the important contribution the Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme have made to our understanding of Britain's history and in supporting collections around the country. More Treasure finds are being reported than ever before and unique objects are documented and conserved for study and public display, such as the recent find of the largest Anglo-Saxon coin hoard recorded since the Treasure Act of 1996. These achievements are a testament to the network of Finds Liaison Officers, who play a key role in ensuring archaeological finds found by the public are properly reported and recorded. It is particularly welcome that, due to the generosity of funding bodies and individual supporters, many of these finds are being acquired by local museums.

Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, said:

'I'd especially like to thank the finders and landowners who have graciously waived their right to a reward so that local museums can acquire Treasure. It is an initiative that the Government has been keen to support, and it demonstrates that metal-detectorists have a genuine interest in the past, and are not just interested in archaeology for personal gain '.

Finds on Display at the British Museum's Launch of the Treasure Annual Report

Anglo-Saxon Coin Hoard from Lenborough, Buckinghamshire (2014 T973; BUC-7FE6F2): Around 5200 Anglo-Saxon silver pennies, and two cut half pennies, of kings Æthelred II (r.978-1016) and Cnut (r.1016-35), found within a lead parcel. The hoard was discovered on a metal-detecting rally, and recovered under the guidance of the local Finds Liaison Officer. This important find will reveal a great deal about monetary circulation in late Anglo-Saxon England.

Finder Paul Coleman said,

'When I saw the first few coins I was really excited because I knew I had found a hoard, however the excitement grew and grew as the size and importance of the find became apparent. Ros Tyrrell, the FLO who was in charge of the excavation, was spot on when she said "now I know a little of what Egyptologist Howard Carter must have felt, when he first looked into the tomb of Tutankhamen."'

Chair of Buckinghamshire County Museum Trustees Bob Sutcliffe, said

"This is an incredible find for Buckinghamshire, and a unique opportunity for us to learn more about the origins of Buckinghamshire in Anglo-Saxon times. It would be fantastic to be able to show people that we have nationally important finds being discovered here. Someone in the now tiny village of Lenborough had stasheda massive amount of money, almost 1,000 years ago, and we want to know who, and why! We're awaiting the official declaration of Treasure and final valuation, before we decide if we are going to try and acquire this hoard - fundraising for such an important find would be a major project for our recently formed Bucks County Museum Trust, but it will give us the chance to try and involve the public on a new scale, and get them really excited about their heritage."

Bronze Age Bracelet Hoard from Wollaston, Gloucestershire (2013 T805; GLO-E9EC16):Eight gold bracelets nested together in three groups, probably belonging to a child, and featuring unique decoration. They date to c.1400-c.1100 BC. The British Museum hopes to acquire.

Bronze Age Lunula from Tarrant Valley, Dorset (2014 T257; DOR-2198F8):Gold neck ornament, much more common in Ireland than in Britain. Dating from c.2100-c.1400 BC. Dorset County Museum hopes to acquire.

Viking Hoard from West Coast of Cumbria (2014 T518; LANCUM-FA14C8): A total of 19 silver objects including ingots and fragments of arm rings, dating from AD C9th to C10th. The Beacon Museum hopes to acquire.

Post-medieval reliquary cross from Skellow, South Yorkshire (2013 T807; SWYOR-7346E4):Gold reliquary containing possible relic dating to the C17th or early C18th. It probably belonged to recusants living in Yorkshire. Doncaster Museum hopes to acquire.

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