News from the Scheme

Memorial event for Geoff Egan

Published: 9 years ago Author:

Geoff in his Guild regaliaThere will be a memorial event for Geoff Egan from 2 to 5.30 pm on 24 March in the BP lecture theatre in the Clore Education centre at the British Museum when Geoff's friends and colleagues will contribute their memories, followed by a party. Speakers include John Cherry of the Finds Research Group and formerly of the British Museum, Hazel Forsyth of the Museum of London, Gus Milne of the Institute of Archaeology, Paul Courtney of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology, a representative of the mudlarks and Mark Bridge of the Company of Arts Scholars. All are welcome. Admission is free but booking is required; please contact ccostin@britishmuseum.org

The following is the text of the address that Roger Bland gave at Geoff's funeral on the 14th January:

Graham has asked me to say a few words on Geoff as a professional colleague, but I am very conscious that there are many people here - colleagues from the Museum of London, from the other organisations with which he was involved, representatives of the mudlarks - who have known him for much longer than me.

So I will talk mainly about my own knowledge of Geoff since he first came to work for PAS in 2004, at first on a part-time basis on secondment from the Museum of London, and then full-time since last July when we were able to create a full-time post for him at the British Museum. It might be a cliché to say this, but in Geoff's case it is literally true: he leaves a gap that cannot be filled. We created a post for him at the British Museum because of his immense knowledge of medieval and post-medieval finds, and we do not think that we will be able to replace him.

I'm not an expert in Geoff's field but when I came to set up the network of staff in the Portable Antiquities Scheme in the late 1990s more and more people told me about this legendary character at the Museum of London Archaeology Service who had pioneered liaison with the people who search for finds on the Thames foreshore - the mudlarks - in the 1970s and who knew all there was to know about small finds from London. The mudlarks have retrieved a fascinating trove of metal artefacts lost by generations of Londoners on the banks of the Thames and Geoff was one of the first archaeologists to recognise the importance of what they were finding and actively to seek their co-operation. I learned from Graham that he and Geoff had done some mudlarking themselves, many years ago. Geoff's approach has undoubtedly paid off.

Together with his colleague Hazel Forsyth, Geoff published the collection of Toys, Trifles and Trinkets that Tony Pilson donated to the Museum of London. This pioneering work studied a class of artefact (children's metal toys from 1200 to 1800) that had not been recognised by archaeologists before the discoveries of the mudlarks brought significant numbers of them to light. This book is an excellent example of the collaborative way in which Geoff worked: it was written jointly by himself and his colleague Hazel Forsyth, based on the collection that he had encouraged the mudlark Tony Pilson generously to donate to the Museum and the volume was funded by the late Jonathan Horne, an antiques dealer who was to introduce Geoff to the Guild.

Geoff also played a key part in the great series of catalogues of medieval finds from London excavations, written with colleagues from the Museum of London, and he wrote two of them himself: Dress Accessories and The Medieval Household. He opened our eyes to the significance of cloth seals - the lead seals affixed to textiles sent out in trade from the 14th to the 18th centuries. He appreciated that recording the findspots of these unprepossessing objects can give us much information about the cloth trade, for a long time was the main source of the England's prosperity. His study of these led to a doctorate from the Institute of Archaeology London and also resulted in a publication of a catalogue of seals in the British Museum.

Geoff was a key player in the project to catalogue the unique series of finds from the enigmatic site of Meols on the Wirral coast: the settlement itself has disappeared into the sea (it is thought to have been a beach market) and it is known mainly to us through the finds. The monumental catalogue, written with David Griffiths and Rob Philpott, is another key reference for specialists. Geoff also contributed more than 100 papers and notes to both national and county journals. This would be an extremely impressive body of scholarship for anyone, but even more so for someone who for most of his career was a finds expert at the Museum of London Archaeology Service and who was snatched from us prematurely. There is no doubt that his published work will stand as Geoff's most lasting legacy.

But Geoff did so much more than write books and articles. He was in huge demand as a speaker and he was just as much at home talking to an international conference or to a local society or metal detecting club - in the month before he died he had spoken at an archaeological colloquium in Lubeck and he had also been asked to advise the museum in Gdansk on their collections, while the next week he was back speaking at a metal detecting club in Blackpool. His sheer enthusiasm and knowledge was infectious. When ITN came to us because they were making a series of programmes called Mud Men on finds from the Thames Foreshore, presented by Steve Brooker and Johnnie Vaughan, Steve, an experienced detectorist on the Thames, told the TV people that they needed to engage Geoff's services - he said that as far as mudlarks were concerned Geoff was 'god'. ITN soon realised that Steve was right, even though they sometimes had a bit of a job working with someone who didn't own a mobile phone. The series will be shown on the History Channel next month and will serve as a memorial to Geoff.

In fact I don't think Geoff ever really got to grips with modern technology - computers were scary objects whose ways were a bit of a mystery to him. Although he was a great lecturer PowerPoint was not for him: Geoff preferred to stick to slides if he could, even though slide projectors are beginning to become hard to find. Graham told me how he found a very smart laptop at Geoff's home, but it didn't have a single file on it. And as for e-mails - his battles with the message 'your e-mail inbox is full' were legendary. I think Geoff would really have been more at home with a quill pen and in many ways one could imagine him as an antiquarian gentleman scholar of the 18th century in the tradition of William Stukeley.

Geoff didn't always have a great respect for authority - whether that was Peterhouse College Cambridge, where he took his degree, although he made life-long friends there - or his managers in his professional life. But he loved working with fellow-archaeologists and researchers through societies. He was a founder member of the Finds Research Group in 1982 and served on its committee for 19 years, organising several of its conferences and visits and speaking at more of them. He had been on the council of the Society of Post-Medieval Archaeology since 1982 and served as its President from 2005 to 2008. He also organised conferences for that Society - preferably in faraway places such as the West Indies or Williamsburg, Virginia. Geoff loved travel and built up many friends in European and American museums: he had accompanied the Finds Research Group on a trip to Nuremberg just before he died.

Geoff was an active Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a prominent member of the Essay Club and was in demand to speak on new finds at the Society's ballot meetings. But perhaps the organisation which gave Geoff greatest pleasure was the Company of Arts Scholars, Collectors and Dealers, one of the newest of the city guilds. Geoff had just served a term as its master and, although one would not normally associate the term 'sartorial elegance' with Geoff there is a magnificent image on the Guild's website showing Geoff in a suit wearing his chain of office. One of his proudest moments was last summer when members of the guild exercised their right as freemen of the City of London to drive a flock of sheep across London Bridge. I think the verdict of those who witnessed this event was that Geoff had better stick to his day job than look for a new career as a shepherd.

There is so much more that could be said about Geoff as a colleague and a scholar and we are going to hold a memorial event for him in the British Museum on the afternoon of March 24th. We have booked the biggest lecture theatre and I expect that it will be full, because he had so many friends. I hope you will be able to come.

It is hard to think that we here at the funeral of someone who was so recently so full of life.

I think that this passage from that great work of history, Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People is apt here. It was advice given to Edwin, King of Northumbria, by one of his courtiers when the King was considering whether to convert to Christianity:

"This is how the present life of man of earth, King, appears to me, in comparison with that time which is unknown to us. You are sitting feasting with your ealdormen and thegns in winter time; the fire is burning on the hearth in the middle of the hall and all inside is warm, while outside the wintry storms of rain and snow are raging; and a sparrow flies swiftly through the hall. It enters in at one door and quickly flies out through the other. For a few moments it is inside, the storm and wintry tempest cannot touch it, but after the briefest moment of calm, it flits from your sight, out of the wintry storm and into it again. So this life of man appears for a moment; what follows or indeed what went before, we know not at all."

Lat: 51.519 Long: -0.1265

Comments: There are already 10 comments

Geoff Egan RIP

Published: 9 years ago Author:

London Bridge Anniversary Fayre

The Scheme is very sad to announce the untimely death of our friend and colleague Geoff Egan. Geoff died shortly before Christmas from a coronary thrombosis at home. He will be missed by all who have been touched by his presence. An appreciation of Geoff has been posted by Paul Courtney, Society for Post-medieval Archaeology at http://independent.academia.edu/paulcourtney/Blog

In due course more tributes will be collated on our site.

Requiescat in pace.

Lat: 51.519 Long: -0.1265

Comments: There are already 27 comments

Ashmolean Museum acquires a hoard of Angels this Christmas

Published: 9 years ago Author:

No. 174: Richard III '(boar's head 2 / sun and rose no. ?)' - you can see his insignia, the boar's head, on the prow of the ship on the reverse.Today, the Ashmolean Museum is delighted to announce the acquisition of a spectacular Tudor hoard of 210 English gold angels and half-angel coins, found in the Cotswolds, Oxfordshire. Spanning the period from 1470-1526, covering the Wars of the Roses to ten years before the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the hoard is the largest intact assemblage of its kind. It contains some rare pieces, most notably from the reign of Kings Henry VI, 2nd reign (1470-1471) and Richard III (1483-1485).

The Ashmolean successfully secured more than half of the hoard's asking price through private, philanthropic giving with the remaining monies raised through government funding and grants from public sources. Over and above the £64,000 from NHMF, the following helped to raise the money: £28,000 from The MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund; £10,000 from The Headley Trust; and £178,000 from the following: Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Seaman; Baron Lorne Thyssen-Bornemisza; The Mougins Museum of Classical Art; The Carl and Eileen Subak Family Foundation; The Friends of the Ashmolean; The Elias Ashmole Group; The Tradescant Patrons Group.

Dr Christopher Brown, Director of the Ashmolean, said

We are extremely grateful to the individuals and funding bodies for their very generous contributions towards this remarkable hoard. Not only will the hoard be a great addition to our renowned collection but it makes a significant contribution to the history of Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds, and to our understanding of the production and circulation of gold coinage in the early Tudor period.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the NHMF, said:

This is clearly an inspirational collection. That it has now been saved for future generations to enjoy is testament to how private philanthropy, government funds such as the National Heritage Memorial Fund and public funding bodies can effectively come together to secure our most important heritage treasures.

Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, said:

This is great news. Safeguarding this rare collection shows how philanthropy, with the support of Government money through NHMF and additional corporate subsidy, can come together to help protect our rich and irreplaceable heritage for everyone's benefit and for all time.

The hoard was discovered in the summer of 2007 during building work in the village of Asthall, near Burford. It was declared Treasure in April 2010 and was valued by Treasure Valuation Committee at £280,000 on 12 August. It was unearthed on land which belonged to Eton College at the turn of the sixteenth century. The Tudor gold was buried in the early period of Henry VIII (1509-1547); it is possible this was connected to the hiding of Church wealth, in the context of the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII. Alternatively, it may represent a merchant's wealth - whatever the reason, the Asthall hoard is testimony to the accumulation of wealth in the region, made particularly rich from the wool trade.

Angels and half-angels were first minted in 1465, bearing the Archangel Michael slaying the dragon on the obverse. It has been suggested that this is an allegory of the overthrow of Lancaster by York. European culture in the fifteenth century was a time of chivalry and lay piety. This religious theme continues on the reverse design,where the traditional ship borne by the gold nobles since 1344 is super-imposed by a cross, and by the inscriptions:

  • Per Crucem Tuam Salva Nos Christe Redemptor: - Through thy cross save us, Christ Redeemer (on the angels);
  • O Crux Ave Spes Unica - Hail! O Cross, our only hope (on the half-angels).

In the second half of the fifteenth century, the introduction of the angel with its overtly pious message coincided with the popular practice of the Royal Touch. Since medieval times, kings have been involved in the healing of tuberculosis of the neck (scrofula, the King's Evil), a practice which involved touching (Royal Touch), and the giving of alms in the shape of coins. Touch pieces retained the design of angel coins for centuries.

Following conservation, the hoard will go on display in a special exhibition in the Ashmolean's new Money Gallery for a year from 22 March 2011. It will become a key part of the Museum's permanent collection of coins, one of the leading currency collections in the world.

Lat: 51.755 Long: -1.26134

Comments: There are already 1 comments

The future of the Portable Antiquities Scheme

Published: 9 years ago Author:

The Scheme's logoThe BM has agreed with DCMS to take responsibility for the governance and management of PAS with effect from 1 April 2011. DCMS is providing ring-fenced funding (from the Renaissance budget), which will be cut by 15% in real terms, from £1.412m in 2010-11 to £1.323m in 2014-15. This is the same reduction that the national museums and the Renaissance have received.

The British Museum's priority in taking the Scheme forward is to preserve the front line services provided by the current network of Finds Liaison Officers as far as possible and the following measures will be necessary:

  • To cease printing the Portable Antiquities & Treasure Annual Report. One final combined Portable Antiquities & Treasure Annual Report will be published in spring 2011 and thereafter short Treasure Annual Reports will be printed. The PAS website, www.finds.org.uk will contain new pages giving access to details of all Treasure finds from a particular year;
  • To reduce the current contribution made by the Scheme to PAS in Wales, the total costs of which is £75K pa, from £59K this year to £6K from 2012. This is on the basis that these costs should be borne by the Welsh Assembly Government, through CyMAL or the National Museum Wales;
  • To offer the partners that currently employ the 38 Finds Liaison Officers and 5 National Finds Advisers contracts based on this year's staff and travel costs, frozen for four years, and to make savings of £40K pa in the non-staff and travel elements of these grants
  • The remaining staff will be unaffected: the central unit and the National Finds Advisers. In a separate agreement, the DCMS has renewed the funding for the Treasure team which is also based in the British Museum.

The Museum hopes that the 33 partners which employ staff in the Scheme will be able to renew the contracts on this basis. We will work with the National Museum Wales is order to make the case for the continued funding of PAS in Wales.

There were no easy ways to reduce the funding for the Scheme since 92% of it is used for staff costs, but we hope that these measures will enable us to continue to focus on the main aim of PAS to record archaeological objects found by the public.


Head of Portable Antiquities & Treasure
British Museum

24 November 2011

Lat: 51.5182 Long: -0.127223

British Museum to manage the Portable Antiquities Scheme, as exciting new finds go on display

Published: 9 years ago Author:

Ed Vaizey with the Northern Ireland bracelet, next to the Nether Stowey HoardCulture Minister Ed Vaizey today confirmed that the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) will be managed directly by the British Museum from April 2011.

Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, said:

'Following a tough Spending Review settlement we will wish to maintain the integrity of the Portable Antiquities Scheme as much as we can. Bringing both the PAS and the administration of the Treasure Act together under the management of the British Museum will ensure an effective and efficient mechanism for dealing with archaeological finds made by the public, which also compliments the work of curators, conservators and others at the museum'.

Funding for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which is currently managed by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, (MLA) has been agreed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport with a reduction of 15% in real terms over four years.

Ed Vaizey said:

"The Portable Antiquities Scheme has been crucial in ensuring the most important archaeological finds discovered by members of the public are recorded, to advance knowledge and so the past can be enjoyed by all. Under the stewardship of the British Museum, the PAS will remain a central and successful part of British archaeology".

This announcement coincides with the launch of the Treasure Annual Report 2008, which shows that a further 806 Treasure cases have been reported that year, bringing the total number of cases to 6429 since 1997, when the Act came into force. Fundamental to the success of the Treasure Act is the PAS and its network of Finds Liaison Officers, who work closely with finders, advising them of their legal obligations and helping them report finds. To date 659,000 finds have been recorded by the PAS, including 84,891 in the last 12 months - transforming our knowledge of the past.

Important finds featured in the Treasure Annual Report, and which will be on display at its launch, include a Bronze Age gold bracelet from Castlederg, County Tyrone, and a seventeenth-century silverware hoard from Nether Stowey, Somerset - perhaps hidden during the English Civil War. Also on display in the gallery are part of a hoard of 52,503 Roman coins from Frome, Somerset, a sixteenth-century lead-alloy toy coach from the City, London, and 80 $20 gold coins from Hackney, London.

For further information or images please contact Hannah Boulton or Esme Wilson on 020 7323 8522 / 8394 or communications@britishmuseum.org

Finds on display

A Late Bronze Age gold bracelet from Castlederg area, County Tyrone (Treasure: NI 08.2). Date: c. 950-c. 800 BC. Found in April 2008 by the finder while clearing stones from a newly ploughed field. The position of the findspot, on a rise on fertile land that slopes down to a river, might suggest it was originally deposited there on purpose, rather than an accidental loss. The find is rare as a single find (Irish bracelets of this type are normally found in hoards) and few are decorated. Ulster Museum (National Museums Northern Ireland) hopes to acquire.

A hoard of 52,503 Roman coins (Treasure: 2010T272). Deposited c. AD 394. The hoard was found by Dave Crisp while metal-detecting in April 2010 at Frome, Somerset, and reported to Katie Hinds (Wiltshire FLO). Mr Crisp has been commended for not excavating the hoard himself but allowing it to be recovered archaeologically, which was undertaken by Somerset County Council. The hoard is significant since it is the largest Roman coin hoard ever found in a single container and the fact that in contains a significant number of coins of the Emperor Carausius (766 +314 copies) - Britain's 'lost emperor'. The quantity of coins and the size of the pot make it difficult to see how it could have been recovered easily, and therefore ritual deposition is a possibility. Somerset County Museums Service hopes to acquire.

A lead-alloy toy coach from the City of London (PAS: LON-81D1C7). Date: c. 1575-c. 1600. Found by Andy Johanessen while searching the foreshore, and recorded by Felicity Winkley (PAS Headley Intern, London). This toy was found in a flattened state and the finder carefully straightened and returned it to its former shape. This is a rare survival, given the objects fragility. A seventeenth-century silverware hoard from Nether Stowey, Somerset (Treasure: 2008T645), consisting of four spoons, a goblet and a bell salt, and an incomplete earthenware vessel in which the silver was concealed. Found while metal-detecting and reported to Anna Booth (Somerset FLO).

The hoard is likely to have been hidden for safekeeping during the English Civil War; at this time Stowey Court, which is in close proximity to the findspot, was a Royalist garrison, and there is recorded evidence that during this period local people were hiding objects of value. All the silver objects have the owner's mark 'CGA'. Somerset County Museums Service hopes to acquire. A hoard of 80 $20 gold coins from Hackney, London. Date: 1854-1913. Found by chance while digging in a garden. Although the coins are relatively modern they are potential Treasure under the legal definition. Since there is the possibility that the original owner (or an heir) is still alive, the Inner North London coroner has opened the inquest inviting claimants to come forward.

Notes to Editors:

  1. All finders of gold and silver objects, and groups of coins from the same finds, over 300 years old, have a legal obligation to report such items under the Treasure Act 1996. Prehistoric base-metal assemblages found after 1 January 2003 also qualify as Treasure. Treasure finds must be reported by law to the local coroner, which is normally done through the finders local PAS Finds Liaison Officer. The Treasure Process is administered by the BritishMuseum. More information is available on www.culture.gov.uk or www.finds.org.uk
  2. The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) is a voluntary scheme (currently managed by the British Museum on behalf of the Museums Libraries and Archives Council) to record archaeological objects (not necessarily 'Treasure') found by members of the public in England and Wales. Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, many of these by metal-detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work. Such discoveries offer an important source for understanding our past. More information can be found on www.finds.org.uk
  3. Last year the first combined Portable Antiquities and Treasure Annual Report (for 2007) waspublished, and another (for 2008) is due in Spring 2010. This will be the final combined report due to resource restrictions. However, the Treasure Act requires a report to published, hence the publication of the Treasure Annual Report 2008 in its current format.
Lat: 51.519 Long: -0.1265

House of Lords debate on the Treasure Act (1996)

Published: 9 years ago Author:

House of Lords logo from WikimediaThis morning in the House of Lords, Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn tabled the question:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will review the definition of "treasure" in the Treasure Act 1996 in the light of the sale at auction of the Roman parade helmet recently found in Cumbria for £2 million.

This debate has several pertinent points that were raised during the discussion and the following exchange refers to the future of the Scheme:

Lord Allan of Hallam: My Lords, my noble friend will be aware of the valuable work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme in recording important archaeological information about finds under the Treasure Act, such as with this helmet. Can she give the House any assurances about the future funding and management of the Portable Antiquities Scheme?

Baroness Rawlings: The Portable Antiquities Scheme is very important and I thank the noble Lord for that question. I appreciate that there is concern over the future of the scheme in the light of the announcement that the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, which currently provides most of the scheme's funding, will be wound up by April 2012. I am pleased to confirm that the scheme will continue. Discussions are taking place about the best way for it to be managed and funded.

The Minister (Baroness Rawlings) made a commitment to introduce the amendments to the Treasure Act in the Coroners and Justice Act in answer to Lord Howarth (apart from the amendment to introduce a coroner for Treasure, which they are still considering). She said: "Measures included in the Coroners and Justice Act to improve the treasure system will be implemented." The Government's previous position was that they were considering these amendments, so this is new.

Lord Howarth of Newport: My Lords, can the Minister offer any comfort to archaeologists, faced as they are with cuts to funding for museums, universities, English Heritage and local authority archaeological departments and, indeed, the collapse of archaeological businesses that are dependent for their funding on developers? Do the Government have any policies to support archaeology?

Baroness Rawlings: The noble Lord, Lord Howarth, is very much involved with this subject and I understand his concern about the cuts, which will be across the board and which we all know about. Measures included in the Coroners and Justice Act to improve the treasure system will be implemented. Ministers are still considering the feasibility of a coroner for treasure. DCMS and the Ministry of Justice are working together to assess the extent to which measures on treasure may be implemented within current financial constraints.

The most significant amendments are (a) widening the obligation to report Treasure to anyone who comes into possession of it and (b) giving the Secretary of State the power to designate officers to whom Treasure is reported.

You can read the full transcript at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/ldtoday/02.htm

Lat: 51.519 Long: -0.1265

Comments: There are already 2 comments

Vote for your favourite Leicestershire object!

Published: 9 years ago Author:

Leicestershire revealed logoInspired by the British Museum's 'History of the world' Leicestershire's Council and Independent museums have put forward the top 100 Leicestershire objects.

Leicestershire revealed showcases the top 100 objects which tell the story of Leicestershire. They can be viewed at www.leics.gov.uk/revealed. They include many archaeological objects and several treasure cases.

From Monday 8th November until the end of the month we would like people to vote for their favourite object and tell us why they like it. You can also rate the other objects, so please get on-line and vote!

Treasure items include the Bronze age beaker basket ornaments- the oldest metalwork from the county, the Rothley Bronze age axe hoard, the Earl Shilton Anglo-Saxon sword pommel, the Sapcote Anglo-Saxon Pendant and the Medieval Bosworth boar!

Detected objects include the Snibston Viking sword pommel and a lead button dipicting Elizabeth I. Other metal objects include the Twyford Anglo-Saxon bulls head bucket mount, a Roman dog from High Cross and the oldest Roman coin from the county -so far!

Lat: 52.6348 Long: -1.12952

Hoard of American gold Double-Eagles dug up in Hackney

Published: 9 years ago Author:

Today at St Pancras Coroner's Court, an inquest was opened into the discovery of a hoard of American gold dollar coins found in Hackney, which are currently being examined in the Museum of London. The inquest will determine whether the hoard qualifies as Treasure. This is an interesting case, because the coins are less than 300 years old, so for them to qualify as Treasure they need to meet the following criteria:

  1. Made of gold or silver
  2. Deliberately concealed by the owner with a view to later recovery
  3. The owner, or his or her present heirs or successors, must be unknown

The inquest has been adjourned and is due to be at the Poplar Coroner's Court on the 8th of February 2011.

The hoard of gold double eaglesThe public will be able to view these coins in the British Museum from Tuesday 19th October, in gallery 41. Anyone with any information about the original owners of the coins, their heirs or successors, should provide this to the Treasure Registrar, the British Museum. The Museum will require evidence about how, when, where and why the coins were concealed and evidence upon which they can be sure of the ownership by any potential claimant.

There is no penalty for mistaken claims made in good faith but any false claims may be reported to the police for consideration of charges of perverting the course of justice, or other offences of dishonesty.

More about the hoard

The hoard contains 80 coins, minted in the United States between 1854 and 1913. They are all $20 denominations of the type known as 'Double-Eagle'. The find is totally unprecedented in the United Kingdom.

The coins were reported to Kate Sumnall, Finds Liaison Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and are currently on show in the Museum of London. The coins will qualify as 'Treasure' under the terms of the Treasure Act 1996 and thus the property of the Crown, if the coroner finds that they have been buried with the intent of future recovery. However if the original owner or his or her heirs are able to establish their title to the coins, this will override the Crown's claim.

Hackney Museum has expressed an interest in acquiring the coins, which would then be valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee at their full market value. Hackney Museum would then have up to four months to raise the money to pay for the hoard, and this sum would be divided between the owner of the land and the finder.

Dr Barrie Cook of the British Museum (Department of Coins and Medals) reports:

The 80 coins are all gold 20-dollar pieces of the United States, issued between 1854 and 1913. The coins are thus all the same denomination, introduced in this form in 1850, and were struck to the same standard, 90% gold, used from 1837 until the end of US gold coinage in 1933. The catalogue shows that the coins gradually increase in number across the decades from 1870 to 1909 (13 coins from 1870-9; 14 from 1880-89; 18 from 1890-99; and 25 from 1900-9). Over a quarter of the total were issued in the last 6 six years represented. Together these factors suggest that the material began to be put aside during this later period, rather than being built up systematically across a range of time represented. The main element among this latest material are the 17 coins dating to 1908, which suggests that a single batch of coins from that year might have formed the core for the group.

Date Mint Total
1854 San Francisco 1
1867 San Francisco 1
1870 San Francisco 1
1875 Carson City 1
1875 San Francisco 1
1876 San Francisco 5
1876 Philadelphia 2
1877 San Francisco 2
1877 Philadelphia 1
1881 San Francisco 1
1882 San Francisco 2
1883 San Francisco 3
1884 San Francisco 2
1885 San Francisco 1
1888 San Francisco 4
1889 San Francisco 1
1890 Philadelphia 1
1891 San Francisco 1
1893 San Francisco 1
1894 San Francisco 4
1896 San Francisco 3
1898 San Francisco 4
1899 San Francisco 4
1900 San Francisco 2
1901 San Francisco 3
1902 San Francisco 2
1905 San Francisco 2
1907 Philadelphia 1
1908 Philadelphia 17
1909 Philadelphia 1
1910 Philadelphia 1
1913 Philadelphia 3
1913 Denver 1

Lat: 51.5241 Long: -0.123356

£320,250 needed to save Frome Hoard for Somerset

Published: 9 years ago Author:

Art Fund to match-fund public donations to appeal

The Art Fund logo

Victor Ambrus' water colour of his view of the hoard being depositedToday, the value of the Frome Hoard has been announced at £320,250. Somerset County Council Heritage Service now has until 1 February 2011 to raise the funds in order to keep this important treasure on public display in the county in which it was discovered. The rare find, made up of 52,503 Roman coins dating from the 3rd century AD, was unearthed tightly packed in a pot and is the largest coin hoard to have been found in a single container.

The Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for works of art, today announces a grant of £40,250 to kick-start the appeal. For the first time, the Fund is offering members of the public the chance to double the value of their donation to the appeal. For every £1 donated by a member of the public, the Art Fund will match fund it - up to a total value of £10,000, thereby boosting the appeal with up to a further £20,000.

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said:

"We're extremely excited to be part of Somerset's campaign to acquire this extraordinary treasure. To think that this pot packed full of coins lay buried beneath the soil for almost 2,000 years - it really is incredible. We need to save the hoard so that experts can carry out vital research - and so that new generations can enjoy and be inspired by it. As a way to encourage philanthropic giving and support from the public, we are also pleased to be offering members of the public the chance to double the value of their donation to the appeal by donating via us."

Roger Bland, Head of Portable Antiquities & Treasure, British Museum said:

"Dave Crisp, the finder, behaved in an exemplary way. When he found the hoard he didn't try and dig it out himself, but reported it to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, so that an archaeological excavation could be organised to recover the find systematically. As a result there is enormous potential to properly understand why and how this coin hoard was buried, and perhaps change pre-existing views on the hoarding and burial of such assemblages".

Dave Crisp discovered the hoard on 11 April 2010 while metal-detecting near Frome, Somerset. The 'Frome Hoard' was declared Treasure under the Treasure Act 1996 on 22 July. The coins range from c. AD 253 to c. 293 and except for five silver coins are all base-silver or bronze 'radiate' coins. Weighing 160 kilograms, it is said to be one of the largest and most important hoards of coins of this period in Britain. There are still mysteries surrounding why it was buried, and Dr Bland says that its discovery could make experts

"rethink the nature of such hoards."

Over 760 of the coins belong to the emperor Carausius, a general in the Roman army who usurped against the Central Empire. Carausius set up his own empire in northern Gaul and Britain, and This is the largest group of his coins found anywhere. The entire hoard includes coins minted by 21 emperors and three emperors' wives.
Because the coins were excavated by layer, experts were able to detect that most of the latest coins (those of Carausius) had lain over half-way down the pot. This led to the conclusion that the hoard was almost certainly buried in one event. The pot could not have held 160kg of metal without breaking. It therefore must have been buried in the ground before the coins were tipped in from smaller containers.

There has already been considerable local enthusiasm for the hoard. On 22 July, the County Council Heritage Service organised a special event showcasing a selection of coins from the find. Over 2,000 people and two school groups attended, many having to queue for up to an hour. A second event is planned for 23 October 2010. This will be a major opportunity for the public to find out more about the find and what they can do to help save it.

In addition to the target £320,250 needed to acquire the hoard for Somerset, an additional £35,000 will be needed for its long-term conservation.

The first book on the Frome Hoard, written by experts Sam Moorhead, Roger Bland and Anna Booth, and published by the British Museum Press, is now available from www.britishmuseumshoponline.org

50 pence of every sale will go towards the vital conservation costs..The Frome Hoard tells the remarkable story of the discovery of the hoard, describes the fascinating collection of coins it contains and offers an initial interpretation of the treasure, and its significance. Close-up photographs show intricate details of the amazing coins.

How to donate

To donate towards the appeal to save the hoard for Somerset, please register your interest via savefromehoard@artfund.org and the Art Fund will be in touch with details about how to donate. Every public donation will be match-funded by the Art Fund, up to a total of £10,000.

Ends

Notes to editors

The Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for works of art and plays a major part in enriching the range, quality and understanding of art in the UK. It campaigns, fundraises and gives money to museums and galleries to buy and show art, and promotes its enjoyment through its events and membership scheme. Current initiatives include sponsoring the UK tour of the ARTIST ROOMS collection, and running a major campaign in partnership with the National Trust to raise £2.7 million to save Brueghel's The Procession to Calvary for Nostell Priory. The Art Fund is funded by its art-loving and museum-going members and supporters who believe that great art should be for everyone to enjoy. Find out more at www.artfund.org.

Portable Antiquities Scheme

The Portable Antiquities Scheme was established to encourage the recording of archaeological finds found by the public, and also supports the mandatory reporting of Treasure (such as the Frome Hoard) under the Treasure Act 1996. The Scheme is managed by the British Museum on behalf of the Museums, Libraries & Archives Council. Across England and Wales its Finds Liaison Officers liaise with finders and record their finds, which are published on its online database (www.finds.org.uk) so that people can learn about the archaeology of their local area, and also for the advancement of archaeological knowledge.

Contact Roger Bland, Head of Portable Antiquities and Treasure, 020 7323 8611; e-mail: rbland@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk

Museum of Somerset

The Frome Hoard will be prominently displayed in the Museum of Somerset, Taunton, when it re-opens in the Summer of 2010. The museum is presently undergoing a £6.9 million refurbishment largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Locally, support for the hoard's acquisition has been shown by a contribution of £10,000 from the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society.

Contact Stephen Minnitt, Head of Museum 01823 347440 or 01823 278805. Email: scminnitt@somerset.gov.uk

Details on the Book

The first book on the Frome Hoard, written by Sam Moorhead, Roger Bland and Anna Booth, and published by the British Museum Press, available from www.britishmuseumshoponline.org, 48 pages, 50 colour illustrations, ISBN 978 0 7141 2334 9, PB £4.99. The Frome Hoard has been printed with the generous support of local Frome-based printers, Butler, Tanner & Dennis

The Authors

Cover image for The Frome Hoard

Sam Moorhead is National Finds Adviser for Iron Age and Roman coins in the department of Portable Antiquities and Treasure at the British Museum.

Anna Booth was Somerset County Council's Finds Liaison Officer, and worked on the excavation of the hoard. She is now researching for a PhD at the University of Leicester.

Roger Bland is Head of Portable Antiquities and Treasure at the British Museum. He is the co-author of The Staffordshire Hoard (British Museum Press)
 

Lat: 51.518 Long: -0.127376

Exceptional Roman cavalry helmet discovered in Cumbria

Published: 9 years ago Author:

An image of the Roman helmet restored by Christies

Earlier this year, an astonishing Roman cavalry helmet was discovered by a metal detectorist searching on disturbed pastureland with the landowner's permission at Crosby Garrett in Cumbria.

This helmet is only the third known example discovered in the United Kingdom; however neither of the previous examples is as complete or as elaborate in design. The face mask of this helmet is of the usual style - an idealised youthful visage (Greek in style), clean shaven with a head of luxurious curly hair.

This exceptional discovery of National importance, will hopefully be acquired for Tullie House Museum and it has been recorded in full (with a precise grid reference) on the Portable Antiquities Scheme's database (record number: LANCUM-E48D73). The find spot has been visited by local archaeologists and Scheme staff, and a preliminary assessment has been made of the discovery site.

The helmet was discovered in 67 pieces and has been restored at Christies to the state in which it has been offered for sale; images of the helmet in its discovery state can be seen attached to the Scheme's record.

Several experts have examined the helmet and Dr Ralph Jackson of the British Museum said:

The face mask of the Cumbria helmet, like many others, is both extremely finely wrought and chillingly striking, but it is as an ensemble that the helmet is so exceptional and, in its specifics, unparalleled. It is a find of the greatest importance. As a most powerful symbol of the might of Rome, it is a star display piece which could hardly be more appropriate to the collections, galleries and curatorial expertise of Carlisle's Tullie House Museum: it is vital that the Museum secures it.

Dr Roger Bland OBE, Head of Portable Antiquities and Treasure at the British Museum said:

This is an internationally important find and one which everyone agrees should be in a museum in this country and we are supporting the efforts of Tullie House Museum in Carlisle to acquire it.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme played an essential role in working with the finder to discover exactly where it was found, so that Tullie House Museum are able to bid for it and we hope that they are successful, although it is always difficult for a museum to buy an object like this at auction.
It is a pity that the object was restored before there was any opportunity to examine it scientifically, as that would have given us more information about how it came to be in the ground. We hope it will be possible for there to be an archaeological examination of the findspot.

Sally Worrell, National Finds Adviser (Roman and Prehistoric artefacts) for the Scheme said:

..without a precise find spot the archaeological significance of this rare find would have been greatly diminished, and now we know where the object has come from, it would be great for it to be displayed in a local museum for the public to enjoy. Our FLOs for Cumbria, Dot Boughton and Stuart Noon, have visited the findspot and have discovered previously unknown evidence for human occupation in the immediate vicinity of the findspot. We very much hope to be able to investigate this further, as is so important to know as much as possible about the context of the find.

It is now being offered by Christies at auction on the 7th October 2010 and the sales catalogue entry can be seen on page 118 - http://bit.ly/bLELjN.

The image on the right depicts the Roman Cavalry helmet, copyright Christies.

Further reading

Report on helmet by Ralph Jackson [pdf]

Lat: 51.519 Long: -0.1265

Comments: There are already 5 comments

91 - 100 of 270 records.

Other formats: this page is available as xml json rss atom representations.