News from the Scheme

East of England Newsletter

Published: Friday 28th November 2003 Author:

I am very pleased to introduce the first East of England region Portable Antiquities Scheme newsletter. This newsletter aims to focus upon the work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.

This issue begins with an update of Portable Antiquities news, focusing upon the newly appointed Finds Liaison Officers in the East of England region. The first in a series of articles about Bronze Age objects takes a look at Bronze Age awls. Finders often overlook these small objects but if recognised they can make a valuable contribution to the understanding of the Bronze Age in our region. Recent research into the production sites of barbarous radiates in Norfolk and Suffolk is introduced.

Unusual recent finds are then focused upon, including the Norfolk Roman diploma.
An exciting treasure find recently acquired by a local museum is then illuminated and Chris Mycock discusses the price of treasure items from museums' point of view.

Finally the findings of two recent excavations conducted in Suffolk for the recent Hidden Treasure Programme and Time Team are revealed.

Faye Minter

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Portable Antiquities V Graham Norton

Published: Wednesday 26th November 2003 Author:

The Portable Antiquities Scheme were asked by V Graham Norton to identify 'archaeological' finds found by the public as part of a feature for the show inspired by Time Team - the Big Dig and Indiana Jones - Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Prior to filming the programme producers had asked members of the audience to bring in finds discovered in their gardens together with photographs of the 'excavations'. Michael Lewis and Sally Worrell (both Portable Antiquities Scheme) then went to the studios to identify the finds discovered and offer comments on them. Needless to say most finds were twentieth century and included an exhumed terrapin, perished underpants and prosthetic limbs! However amongst these gruesome discoveries were some typical of the sort normally seen by the Scheme's Finds Liaison Officers, these including copper-alloy objects, flints and a fragment of Roman pottery.

 Sally Worrell ID's finds

Image 1 - Sally Worrell identifying finds

Sally Worrell with finder

Image 2 - Sally Worrell examining finds with finder

During filming Graham Norton said that the finds had been identified by 'archaeological experts' from the Portable Antiquities Scheme and also explained that the role of the Scheme was to identify and record finds made by the public. Given the nature of the show we were pleasantly surprised that Graham Norton also went on to note the importance of having permission to search on public land and also referred to the issue of modern development of archaeological sites - though some of these comments fell on the cutting room floor. The show was screened 'as live' last night (25th November 2003) and attracted a viewing audience of about two million.  

Sally Worrell with Graham

Image 3 - Sally Worrell with Graham Norton

Whilst the show was very much 'tongue in cheek' there is no doubt a new (though perhaps untraditional) audience became aware that such a Scheme for recording archaeological objects actually existed!

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Finds Day

Published: Wednesday 26th November 2003 Author:

Frank Basford, the Isle of Wight, Finds Liaison Officer is holding a finds day in conjunction with the Oglander Roman Trust.
The Trust administers Brading Roman Villa, which is currently undergoing a major refurbishment with a new cover building amongst one of their many projects.

The event will be held on Saturday 6 December 2003 at the Church Hall adjacent to Brading Parish Church between 1300 and 1600.

Frank will be glad to view your finds and record them on the Portable Antiquities Scheme's Database.

Please click on the link below for details on the Villa project.

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Treasure: Finding our past

Published: Tuesday 25th November 2003 Author:

Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past
Sponsored by Anglo American and Tarmac
21 November 2003 - 14 March 2004
Room 35
Admission charge

The first major national exhibition of British archaeology in over 20 years, Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past will show how much chance archaeological discoveries have revolutionised our understanding of our past. The exhibition is a result of a unique collaboration between The British Museum and four other major UK museums in Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle and Norwich. The exhibition will travel to each venue after London to allow people across England and Wales to view some of the most spectacular finds of British history.

The exhibition will feature some of the country's most important British treasures such as the magnificent Mildenhall tableware, which will be shown in its entirety and will tour the country for the first time and the iconic Lewis Chessmen which featured in the first Harry Potter movie. But the key aim of the exhibition is to celebrate the enormous contribution that the public has made in uncovering history as well as the success of the Treasure Act and the Portable Antiquities Scheme. The vast majority of finds in the exhibition have been uncovered by metal detectorists who now account for 90% of all treasure discoveries. Recent finds such as the Iron Age gold jewellery found in Winchester and the stunning Bronze Age gold cup from Ringlemere, Kent have revealed important new information about Britain's prehistory. Responsible metal detecting and reporting of finds has greatly enhanced our historical knowledge. It has enabled archaeologists to examine the context of finds as well as the finds themselves helping us to understand how they were used, their ritual or social significance and why they came to be at a particular site.

The exhibition also aims to challenge people's perceptions of what constitutes 'treasure'. Although many of the objects in the exhibition are exquisite examples of gold or silverwork or feature precious gems, the seemingly lowliest object can be hugely significant to understanding our history. Medieval pewter 'toys' found on the banks of the Thames by the 'Society of Thames Mudlarks', an amateur metal detecting group, have little financial value but are important social documents and tell us a huge amount about everyday lives in the Middle Ages. Tudor dress fasteners, which tend to be found as casual losses, rather than on specific sites, give us an insight into how people at the time wore their clothes and what they considered to be fashionable accessories.

On completion at The British Museum, the exhibition will travel to the National Museum's and Galleries of Wales, Cardiff (May-September 2004), The Manchester Museum (October 2004-January 2005), Hancock Museum, Newcastle ( March-June 2005 ) and Norwich Castle Museum (July 2005-November 2005).

For further information or images please contact Hannah Boulton on 020 7323 8522 or email hboulton@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk

The book, Treasure: Finding our Past by Richard Hobbs accompanies the exhibition. It explores the key finds of British history, all with a unique story to tell and nearly all made by members of the public. Published by The British Museum Press on 1st September at £9.99. For further details please contact Penelope Vogler on Tel: 020 7079 0942 or email p.vogler@bmcompany.co.uk

Notes to Editors


The Treasure Act was introduced in 1997, as a revision to the medieval law of Treasure Trove. It established far clearer definitions of what constitutes treasure, and its scope extends beyond gold and silver to associated archaeological material and some categories of base metal objects. Since it was introduced, the number of treasure cases each year has risen nine-fold, from around 25 a year to 221 in 2000. For more information, please visit www.finds.org.uk/background/treasure.asp
The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a voluntary scheme to record archaeological objects found by the public and to broaden awareness of these finds for understanding our past. Since 1997 the Scheme's Finds Liaison Officers have examined over 100,000 objects, many of which might have otherwise gone unrecorded. Data is passed on to Sites and Monuments Records (SMRs) and is also published on the Scheme's website - http://www.finds.org.uk/
" The exhibition only covers material found in England and Wales, with the exception of the Lewis Chessmen. Scottish finds are excluded because different laws apply regarding Treasure finds; the Treasure Act and the Portable Antiquities Scheme apply only to England and Wales
" A number of the hoards/objects on display will feature in a BBC 2 series 'Hidden Treasures' to be broadcast this autumn. Tracing the route objects take to become part of our national heritage in the British Museum, viewers will learn the history of these amazing artefacts and how their market value is assessed.

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Collectors fair

Published: Friday 14th November 2003 Author:

Frank Basford will be representing the Portable Antiquities Scheme at a Collectors Fair at the Isle of Wight Council's Dinosaur Isle Museum. This will be held over the weekend of November 22nd and 23rd 2003; between 10:00 am and 16:00 pm.

Also present, will be the the Island's metal detecting club, Vectis Searchers and the Isle of Wight Young Archaeologists Club. Both of these clubs will be producing displays about their work.

 


Dinosaur Isle,
Culver Parade,
Sandown,
Isle of Wight
PO36 8QA

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Treasure, Metal detecting, Archaeology and Conservation - the life of detected finds after recovery

Published: Friday 14th November 2003 Author:

Do you want to know more about how to treat your finds'
Metal detectorists want conservation advice from conservators. They want to know how to look after their finds. How should conservators achieve this'
Is there enough information available to detectorists'
We need you to contribute to this debate.
The meeting will review the work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and examine how well
archaeologists, conservators and detectorists are working together to gather information and safeguard finds for the future.

The day's proceedings will follow this format:

18 December 2003,       British Museum Lecture Theatre
PROVISIONAL PROGRAMME
9.30     Registration
9.55 Health and Safety Announcements  Claire Heywood,
10.00    Welcome Kirsten Suenson-Taylor, UKICAS & Neil McGregor, Director British Museum

Session 1. 
The Portable Antiquities Scheme: how is it working, current and future needs.
Chair: Roger Bland, PAS
10.10 Sally Worrell
10.30 David Barwell  Detectorist Chairman The National Council for Metal Detecting.  'Conversation, Communication, Conservation'
10.50 Hayley Bullock, Conservator, British Museum
11.10 Discussion
11.30 Coffee

Session 2 
Resources, successes, problems
Chair: Archaeologist tbc
12.00 Archaeologist, tbc.. 
12.20 Steve Bolger, Detectorist, 
12.40 Numismatist,  Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge tbc.
13.00 Discussion
13.20 Lunch/ Displays from metal detectors and conservators

Session 3 
Conservation and metal detectorists, case studies and experiences. 
Chair: Kathy Tubb
14.30 Susan La Niece, Archaeological Scientist, British Museum: What can science tell you about treasure
14.55 Jenny Jones, Conservator, English Heritage.
Portable Antiquities and conservation
15.15 Rebecca Lang, Conservator, Museum of London.
Mud, glorious mud.
15.35 Discussion
15.55 Coffee

Chair: Dean Sully
16.25 Neil Allen Chairman Romney Marshland MDC.
16.45 Julie Jones, Conservator, York Archaeological Trust
From Swords to Ploughshares: YAT conservators meet the detectorists.
17.05 Discussion
17.30 Close

The event will then be followed by a wine reception and a tour of the British Museum's latest exhibition.
Buried Treasure: Finding our Past  and talk from Richard Hobbs, Curator British Museum

For more details, or to book contact:
Kirsten Suenson-Taylor,
Telephone 01295 720350
k.suenson@virgin.net or
Claire Heywood
sheywood@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk.
Cheques payable to UKICAS should be sent to:
Kirsten Suenson-Taylor
Mill House
South Newington
Banbury OXON
OX15 4JE

or

Claire Heywood
Department of Conservation
The British Museum
Great Russell Street
London WCIB 3DG

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Hidden Treasure Exhibition - Museum of Canterbury

Published: Wednesday 12th November 2003 Author:

From 22nd November 2003 until 20th March 2004 the Museum of Canterbury will be hosting an exhibition focusing on archaeological finds made by members of the public in the Canterbury area.  The exhibition will aim to show the range and wealth of material uncovered by chance finders and metal detectorists in and around Canterbury, and to demonstrate how these finds add to the picture of the area's past.

 The exhibition will feature regular finds surgeries run by the Kent Finds Liaison Officer, Andrew Richardson, as well as educational and interactive events.  Many important finds will be displayed for the first time, including an important group of Roman cremation vessels found by local detectorists and excavated under the supervision of Andrew Richardson.

The HIDDEN TREASURE exhibition will take place at the Museum of Canterbury, Stour Street, open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm (last entry 4pm). Usual admission charge applies, but free to Canterbury residents. 

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Anglo Saxon Gold “Pyramidal” Sword Belt Fitting found at Bembridge, Isle of Wight

Published: Monday 3rd November 2003 Author:

The Isle of Wight has long been noted for the rich grave goods found in the Anglo Saxon cemeteries of Bowcombe Down and Chessell Down, which date back to the Island's pagan past in the sixth century AD. Now an important new Anglo Saxon find has been discovered in Bembridge Parish. This item of Treasure, a gold sword belt fitting, was found on 22nd September 2002, by Darren Trickey, using a metal detector. The BritishMuseum has provided a technical report on the sword belt fitting for the Isle of Wight Coroner. Details of the find, given below, are taken from the BritishMuseum report.

The sword belt fitting is the most elaborate piece of metal-work or jewellery to have been found on the Island since the excavations at Bowcombe and Chessell in the nineteenth century. The gold fitting has an octagonal base and is decorated with sixteen panels divided into cells. Originally these cells were inlaid with garnets, only one of which now survives. At the base of the fitting is a bar through which a leather strap would have been threaded. The BritishMuseum has dated the find to the seventh century AD. We know that in the seventh century the pagan Jutes came under the political domination first of the South Saxons and then of the West Saxons, whose king Caedwalla "laid waste Kent and the Isle of Wight" in AD 686, according to the Anglo Saxon Chronicle. The eighth century historian, the Venerable Bede, credits Caedwalla with converting the local Jutish population of the Isle of Wight to Christianity. If this is the case, his conversion methods sound rather drastic! According to the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, however, the Island had accepted Christianity some twenty five years earlier when it was first ruled by the South Saxons.

Sword fitting

We cannot date the sword belt fitting more specifically than to say it is of seventh century date - nor can we be certain that it belonged to an Island resident. As it was found on the beach it may have been dropped by someone visiting (or even invading) the Island. We can be confident, however, that its owner was of very high rank, as the sword was the weapon worn by men of wealth and position in Anglo Saxon society. The Bembridge sword belt fitting is particularly fine and its octagonal form makes it a unique example of such an item. These fittings were generally made of either copper-alloy or silver but the Bembridge example belongs to a small high-status group made of gold or gold sheet, one of which comes from the seventh century royal ship burial at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. We can thus make certain assumptions about the owner of the Bembridge sword belt fitting although his identity will always remain a mystery.

Frank Basford Finds Liaison Officer & Coroner's Officer Isle of Wight Archaeology & Historic Environment Service 17 August 2003 01983 823810 frank.basford@iow.gov.uk

Lat: 50.6927 Long: -1.31671

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Time Team Big Dig Finds Surgeries

Published: Wednesday 22nd October 2003 Author:

As part of Time Team's Big Dig, excavation at the site of Marton Village, Middlesborough will continue this weekend 25-26 October.  Phillipa Walton will be holding Finds Identification surgeries on both days (from 10am until 4pm on Saturday and 10am-1pm on Sunday). There will also be the opportunity to handle finds from various periods.

@ Captain Cook Birthplace Museum
Stewart Park
Marton
Middlesborough

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Large increase in treasure finds on the way says Arts Minister Estelle Morris

Published: Friday 17th October 2003 Author:

Large increase in treasure finds on the way says Arts Minister Estelle Morris

The Treasure Annual Report published today shows that reported cases of Treasure can be expected to increase further with the expansion of the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

From December there will be a network of Finds Liaison Officers across England and Wales actively working with finders to ensure the reporting of Treasure finds. A study in the latest Annual Report demonstrates that the presence of a Finds Liaison Officer can increase the number of finds reported as Treasure by up to five times.

Arts Minister Estelle Morris said:

" Once again this report demonstrates the success of the Treasure Act. It also shows how improvements to the Act and the work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme have led to a substantial rise in the number of significant new finds that would otherwise not have been reported.

" I am also pleased to see that many objects are going to regional rather than national museums. This will enable people around the country to gain a greater understanding of their local heritage.

" Every now and then a superb find like that of the Ringlemere gold cup reminds us of our hidden heritage - the treasure that lies under our soil waiting to be discovered. It brings the past to the surface and provides tangible evidence about the lives and skills of those who preceded us. We now have a framework in place through the Treasure Act which enables the significance of such finds to be properly assessed by archaeologists and historians. That adds immeasurably to the understanding we all have about the history of this country."

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