News from the Scheme

Grant to support the study of PAS finds from Cheshire

Published: 4 years ago 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

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

Published: 4 years ago 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: 5 years ago Author:


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.

High resolution imagery

High resolution images can be obtained from this DropBox account link.

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Finds from Garendon go on display

Published: 5 years ago Author:

A new display at Charnwood museum, Loughborough will highlight some of the fascinating finds from this historic estate.

Garendon Abbey, a Cistercian house, was founded by Robert de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester, in 1133. It didn't do very well and was partly ruinous by the Dissolution. It later became a large country estate with a stunning Palladian house, sadly demolished in 1964 because of death duties.

Loughborough Coin and Search Society have been given access to the estate and have made some fabulous discoveries including an Elizabethan purse loss hoard LEIC-69C891 a rare early Iron age Sompting type axe LEIC-1ED197 and a hoard of Medieval Tealby pennies LEIC-4A3194. The latter was generously donated by the landowner, The Squire De Lisle and finders to Leicestershire Museums Service. These objects form the centre piece of a display that reflects the estates history.

Organised by Loughborough Coin and Search Society and the Leicestershire FLO Wendy Scott, the objects will be on display from Saturday December 6th until March 2015.

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Statistical release for Reported Treasure Finds (2012 and 2013)

Published: 5 years ago Author:

Annual statistics of the number of objects of reported Treasure Finds found in 2012 (and the headline number for 2013) (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) produced by the British Museum on behalf of DCMS were released on 6 November 2014 according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

  • Period covered: January 2012 to December 2013 for reported treasure finds.
  • Geographic coverage: England, Wales and Northern Ireland for reported treasure finds.
  • Last release date: 31 October 2013
  • Next release date: Treasure statistics from 2013 and headline figures for 2014 will be published in the third quarter of 2015

Finds Liaison Officers (FLOs) record finds of treasure and portable antiquities on the Portable Antiquities database.


Statistical release for Reported Treasure Finds (2012 and 2013) website


Statistical release for Reported Treasure Finds PDF, 280KB, 10 pages

Statistical release for Reported Treasure Finds MS Word Document, 221KB

Tables A - C: Reported Treasure Finds MS Excel Spreadsheet, 19.9KB

Headline results for 2013

  • In 2013, 993 finds of Treasure were reported. The equivalent number for 2012 was 990.

Breakdown for 2012

  • In 2012, 84 per cent of Treasure finds were object cases (833 cases), of which just over half of these were disclaimed/Return to Finder (RTF) cases. A further quarter of object cases were acquired.
  • In 2012, the vast majority (92%) of Treasure finds were discovered by metal detecting. A further 3 per cent of cases were by an archaeological find and 3 per cent have yet to be confirmed.
  • In 2012, 154 parties waived their right to a reward in 93 cases of Treasure, allowing them to be acquired by museums at no (or reduced) public cost.

Pre-release access

The document below contains a list of officials who have received privileged early access to this release of Reported Treasure Finds. In line with best practice, the list has been kept to a minimum.
List of officials who have received privileged early access (PDF, 173KB, 1 page)

Contact for enquiries

Department for Culture, Media and Sport 4th Floor, 100 Parliament Street, London SW1A 2BQ
The responsible analyst for this release is Jodie Hargreaves
For enquiries on this release contact: 020 7211 6327
For general enquiries telephone: 020 7211 6000

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Archaeology powered by communities: new crowd-funding platform

Published: 5 years ago Author:

MicroPasts screenshotUCL Institute of Archaeology and the British Museum are asking for public help in conducting, designing and funding research about archaeology, history and heritage.

For the last six months, the MicroPasts web platform ( has been 'crowd-sourcing' the transcription of thousands of Bronze Age finds recorded on index cards, the tagging of hundreds of historical photographs, and creating scores of 3D models of archaeological artefacts including Bronze Age weapons and gold jewellery, ancient Egyptian figurines and million-year old stone axes from Olduvai Gorge.

In a new venture, they are now launching a crowd-funding section for the platform ( to support archaeological and historical research involving collaborations between community organisations and academic institutions.

The project team are asking both for new crowd-funding proposals and for donations by members of the public to existing crowd-funding campaigns that they feel passionate about.

Project co-lead Daniel Pett, British Museum, who has been heavily involved in implementing this software, commented:

"This bit of our site is a little bit like KickStarter, but especially for people who want to sponsor high quality research about human history, or for people interested who want to collaborate with an academic institution and start a new project in their local area."

Rather than funding new digs, the MicroPasts crowd-funding site is meant to support the 'silent majority' of archaeological and historical research. Important tasks such as artefact study, digitisation of documents or old fieldwork records, scientific sampling, library-based searches and laboratory work are often insufficiently resourced but are key to ensuring high quality publication of the primary evidence. Volunteer historical and archaeological societies have a very big part to play in such research, and are especially effective when they team up with similarly interested universities or museums.

Project co-lead Professor Andrew Bevan, UCL Institute of Archaeology, added:

"Unlike other crowd-funding platforms, ours is dedicated to helping such community-based archaeology and history projects who otherwise sometimes find it difficult to raise the necessary financial support."

The MicroPasts crowd-funding site has begun life with three starter projects. One bid involves a collaboration between the Thames Discovery Project (TDP), a long-running and award-winning community group working on the Thames foreshore, UCL and the Museum of London. This appeal asks for support to allow TDP to map landing places along the river Thames where river 'taxis' used to pick up and drop off passengers from the late 16th century onwards.

Another crowd-funding appeal relates to a medieval abbey at Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire. This collaboration between the Chess Valley Archaeological Society and UCL aims at studying written records and archaeological finds uncovered during excavations in the 1980s, in order to learn more about life and death at the abbey over 400 years.

A third bid investigates the origins of Anglo-Saxon Wessex, the major early medieval kingdom of the West Saxons. This project will be a collaboration between the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, UCL and the University of Nottingham, with the aim of mapping the original administrative boundaries of Wessex and locating assembly sites, where citizens met for law courts and other political and social meetings. The MicroPasts team are keen to receive new submissions to follow these starting three.

Dr Adi Keinan-Schoonbaert, UCL Institute of Archaeology, added:

"Setting up a new crowd-funding bid is simple and straightforward. We ask academic and community partners to provide a short summary of their project, a catchy short video and a breakdown of the requested budget. As long as it fits the bill as a community-based collaboration, we will set up the campaign online and then anyone can donate to it via PayPal."

Crowd-funding is just one aspect of MicroPasts which is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Its other citizen science activities continue apace (, with 17 different crowd-sourcing applications having been completed since its launch six months ago.

Volunteers are still being sought to help transcribe and georeference a national catalogue of over 30,000 British Bronze Age metal artefacts first recorded in the 18th to 20th centuries. A further goal is to create a large series of research-quality 3D models of some of the same fantastic bronze tools held in the British Museum's collections.

Dr Chiara Bonacchi, UCL Institute of Archaeology, who is involved in the evaluation of the MicroPasts project, said:

"Our goal is not only to provide a valuable opportunity for people to produce high quality research data and learn about archaeological topics or methods that interest them, but also to generate debate and collaboration that may one day lead to new crowd-sourcing ideas or new crowd-funding bids."

All projects make their results publicly available under an open licence so that anyone can share them, and overall the MicroPasts team hopes that the project will start a different kind of discussion about how we research our past.

Notes to editors:

  1. For further information, image and interview requests, please contact Ruth Howells in the UCL Media Relations Office on office: +44 (0)20 3108 3845, mobile: +44 (0)7990 675 947, email:
  2. The MicroPasts initiative ( is a collaboration between UCL and the British Museum, and has been funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, under the Capital Funding Call for Digital Transformations in Community Research Co-Production in the Arts and Humanities. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.
  3. The crowd-funding portion of the web platform is powered by an open source crowd-funding framework called whose origins are in software used for crowd-funding civic projects in Brazil and the US.
  4. 4. A good example of a successful archaeological crowd-funding website that, in contrast to MicroPasts, concentrates on the funding of archaeological excavations is DigVentures (
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Unearthing the past: Heritage Lottery grant supports new initiative to get the best from archaeological finds

Published: 5 years ago Author:

Every year, metal detectorists, farmers and walkers discover archaeological finds that could have important stories to tell us about the past in Wales. But do we get the most out of these discoveries?

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales in partnership with The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales has attracted a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to fulfil the exciting potential of new discoveries. The project Saving Treasures, Telling Stories has been awarded £349,000 to work with finders and communities and enhance the archaeology collections of national and local museums across Wales.

As part of the Heritage Lottery Fund's Collecting Cultures initiative, which supports museums, libraries and archives in developing their collections through strategic acquisition projects, the Saving Treasures, Telling Stories project will create a long-term collecting culture to underpin responsible discovery and reporting.

The Saving Treasures project will establish collecting networks across Wales, enabling museums to share skills, expertise and knowledge and offering training to interpret collections in new and strategic ways. It will also allow for targeted purchases of newly discovered artefacts to develop national and local collections over a four year period 2015-2019. This will involve discoveries covering many periods, from the Stone Age to Medieval times.

The project will deliver a three-year programme of community projects, taking inspiration from significant artefacts or treasure discoveries. Museum staff and partners will collaborate with community groups and participating audiences to develop their responses to the portable heritage on their doorsteps. Community project outcomes will be co-presented in local museums and the national museum, with a range of digital media presentations created and captured online.

A lively and engaging website will be developed for the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales, as a point of access for profiling discoveries, stories, successes and creative responses relating to the portable heritage of Wales.

There will be bursaries for journalism or media studies students and additional volunteering opportunities linked with collecting, community projects and Portable Antiquities Scheme work.

Peter Wakelin, Director of Collections and Research, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales, said,

"Each year hundreds of objects of archaeological significance are found by metal detectorists in Wales and there are some 20-30 discoveries of treasure. This is a crucial resource for understanding the past".

"Targeted purchases of newly-discovered artefacts for national and local collections, collecting activities, ongoing resources and community projects will make a lasting change in bringing together detector clubs, local museums and communities around the stories new discoveries reveal.

"This five year project will help to create and celebrate a new culture around collecting the portable archaeological heritage in Wales and this generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will help us save more treasures and make them more accessible to wider audiences to tell their stories for future generations."

Rachael Rogers, The Federation of Museums and Galleries of Wales:

"We are delighted that this scheme is going ahead. It is a great opportunity for museums across Wales to work both with Amgueddfa Cymru and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales to develop their archaeological collections. We particularly welcome the opportunity to work with local communities that this project will bring".

Jennifer Stewart, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, added

"Collecting Cultures was a hugely popular grant programme and we have responded to this positive feedback by bringing it back a second time. Our first Collecting Cultures grants made a real difference to how cultural institutions approached and planned their long-term collecting strategies. Now, five years on, we're pleased to be able to help a much wider range of applicants, including Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales in partnership with The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales."

If you are interested in taking part in the project or supporting it, please contact Mark Lodwick on (029) 2057 3226 or Adam Gwilt on (029) 2057 3374.

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Rare Hoard of Iron Age chariot fittings goes on display at Melton Museum

Published: 5 years ago Author:

University of Leicester archaeologists have uncovered 22 bronze parts from a 2nd or 3rd century BC Celtic chariot at Burrough Hill Iron Age hillfort. Leicester archaeologists have made a "once-in-a-career" discovery of the decorated bronze remains of an Iron Age chariot.

A team from the University of Leicester's School of Archaeology and Ancient History have unearthed a hoard of rare bronze fittings from a 2nd or 3rd century BC chariot - which appears to have been buried as a religious offering. The archaeologists found the remains during their ongoing excavation of the Burrough Hill Iron Age hillfort, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. The School has led a 5 year project there since 2010, giving archaeology students and volunteers valuable experience of archaeological excavations.

Burrough Hill is owned by the education charity, the Ernest Cook Trust, which has also funded site tours and school visits to the excavation. While digging a large pit near the remains of a house within the hillfort, a group of four students found a piece of bronze in the ground - before uncovering a further 21 parts very nearby. As a group of two or more base metal prehistoric artefacts this assemblage is covered under the Treasure Act. Taken together, the pieces are easily recognisable as a matching set of bronze fittings from a mid to late Iron Age chariot. After careful cleaning, decorative patterns are clearly visible in the metalwork - including a triskele motif showing three waving lines, similar to the flag of the Isle of Man.

Nora Batterman, one of the students who made the discovery, said:

"Realising that I was actually uncovering a hoard that was carefully placed there hundreds of years ago made it the find of a lifetime. Looking at the objects now they have been cleaned makes me even more proud, and I can't wait for them to go on display."

The pieces appear to have been gathered in a box, before being planted in the ground upon a layer of cereal chaff and burnt as part of a religious ritual. The chaff might have doubled as a "cushion" for the box and also the fuel for the fire. After the burning, the entire deposit was covered by a layer of burnt cinder and slag - where it lay undisturbed for more than 2200 years until the team uncovered it. The archaeologists believe the chariot would have belonged to a high-status individual, such as a "noble" or "warrior". The team believe the burial may have taken place to mark a new season, or the final closure or dismantling of a house at the fort.

The parts have been taken to the University of Leicester's School of Archaeology and Ancient History for further analysis - and the archaeologists hope they will be put on permanent public display in due course. Before then, there will be a temporary display of the objects at the Carnegie Museum, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire from Saturday October 18th until Friday December 13th.

Dr Jeremy Taylor, Lecturer in Landscape Archaeology at the University's School of Archaeology and Ancient History and co-director of the Burrough Hill field project, said:

"This is a matching set of highly-decorated bronze fittings from an Iron Age chariot - probably from the 2nd or 3rd century BC. This is the most remarkable discovery of material we made at Burrough Hill in the five years we worked on the site. This is a very rare discovery, and a strong sign of the prestige of the site. The atmosphere at the dig on the day was a mix of 'tremendously excited' and 'slightly shell-shocked'. I have been excavating for 25 years and I have never found one of these pieces - let alone a whole set. It is a once-in-a-career discovery."

John Thomas, co-director of the project added:

"It looks like it was a matching set of parts that was collected and placed in a box as an offering, before being placed in the ground. Iron tools were placed around the box before it was then burnt, and covered in a thick layer of cinder and slag. The function of the iron tools is a bit of a mystery, but given the equestrian nature of the hoard, it is possible that they were associated with horse grooming. One piece in particular has characteristics of a modern curry comb, while two curved blades may have been used to maintain horse's hooves."

The Burrough Hill excavation was undertaken with the permission of English Heritage, the Ernest Cook Trust (landowners), and Leicestershire County Council (site management).

For more information, please contact either: Dr Jeremy Taylor on 0116 223 1804 or at: and John Thomas on 0116 252 5038 or at

More information about the Burrough Hill dig can be found at on the Leicester University website.

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Portable Antiquities Scheme records one millionth find

Published: 5 years ago Author:

On the occasion of the publication of the Portable Antiquities Scheme Annual Report 2013, its one millionth find recorded is announced. The find is a Roman coin in a hoard of 22,000 others dating to around AD341 found in Seaton, Devon. The copper alloy coin, called a nummus, was struck in AD 332 at the mint of Lyon (Gaul). It shows the personification of Constantinopolis on the obverse and a Victory on prow on the reverse. This very common type was struck by Constantine the Great across the Empire to celebrate the inauguration of the new city of Constantinople which was to become the capital of the Eastern Empire. The hoard is the largest of its kind found in Britain. The recording of over one million objects on since the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) was founded in 1997 is testimony to the enormous success of the scheme, which allows finds discovered by members of the public to be recorded for the benefit of researchers and the public alike.

All the finds recorded through the Scheme have made a huge contribution to archaeological knowledge, revealing new insights into Britain's past from its earliest pre-history to the 20th century. The PAS has recorded objects of great value alongside historical ephemera, both of which are vital to building a picture of our complex past. Some of the key discoveries are:

  • The Staffordshire Hoard, dating to the 7th century, the largest ever Anglo-Saxon hoard of gold and silver, mostly consisting of war-gear, including some object-types that continue to puzzle archaeologists. The range of objects found are challenging orthodoxies of when certain objects were first used.
  • The Frome (Somerset) Hoard, the largest ever Roman coin hoard found in a single vessel, consisting of 52,503 coins, deposited in in c.290. This is one of 500 Romans coins hoards discovered since 1997, and their deposition is leading archaeologists to rethink why hoards were buried in Roman times.
  • Two of the largest ever Viking Age hoards found were recorded through the PAS. The Vale of York Hoard (682 objects) and the Silverdale (Lancashire) Hoard (201 objects) were found in the past decade (the largest Viking hoard ever found was the Cuerdale Hoard 8,600+ objects, found in 1840). Both hoards, of early 10th century date, highlight the extent of Viking expansion across England.
  • Two of the largest ever Bronze Age hoards were recorded through the PAS. The Langton Matravers (Dorset) Hoard (777 objects found in 2007) and the Boughton Malherbe (Kent) Hoard (352 objects found in 2011). Such hoards were once thought to be metalworking scrap but archaeologists now believe they were deposited ritually, perhaps as offerings to lost gods.
  • The PAS has revealed three hitherto unknown rulers who have come to light through coin finds recorded by the scheme: Anarevito (an Iron Age chieftain, c.20 BC-c.AD 10), Domitianus II (a Roman emperor, c.271) and Harthacnut (Viking ruler of York, c.900).
  • A silver-gilt boar badge helped pin the point where King Richard III met his death at the Battle of Bosworth, Leicestershire (1485). Medieval battlefields are often hard to precisely locate, so such archaeological evidence proves crucially important. Our understanding of several battlefield sites have been revolutionised through the systematic recording of metal-detected finds, including Bosworth (1485) and Naseby (1645). The pinpointing of metal artefacts associated with the combatants has allowed archaeologists to better understand such battles.
  • One of the largest objects recorded by the PAS was a French cannon, found in Cardiff, which was perhaps captured at the Battle of the Nile 1798). It measures 2.8m in length.
  • One of the smallest objects recorded by the PAS is an Indian gold fanam (coin) found in East Yorkshire with a diameter of just 6mm. It is struck in the name of King Kanthirava Narasa (r.1638-62) and shows the God Vishnu in his lion incarnation.
  • Cumbria's first Viking Age inhumation cemetery, found following the reporting to PAS of two Scandinavian style 'tortoise' brooches.
  • Britain's oldest found papal bulla, a lead-seal from a document issued in the name of Pope Paschal I (r.817-24), probably granting land or office. Papal bullae are relatively common finds, many of which probably found their way into the ground when the documents to which they were attached were destroyed during the Reformation.
  • Mudlarking on the Thames foreshore has brought to light many artefact types less commonly found elsewhere, including lead-alloy medieval pilgrim badges and post-medieval toys.

Currently 815 people have full access to PAS data for research purposes, and there are a further 6,723 registered users. To date PAS data has been used in 422 research projects, including 15 pieces of large-scale research and 87 PhDs.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has recently agreed a generous grant to the Portable Antiquities Scheme which will help to increase volunteer involvement in archaeological heritage across the UK. Called PASt Explorers, the scheme is a five year project that will create a national network of up to 500 trained volunteers who will participate in archaeological finds work in their local areas, sharing information through the PAS database and within their local communities. The HLF grant is for £792,000 over five years and will build on the existing aims of the PAS to increase opportunities for active public involvement in archaeology, especially for people who have never before participated in archaeological heritage. Volunteers will assist in the delivery of public activities in their local areas, including finds recording events, talks, displays and exhibitions and finds handling sessions. The project will raise awareness of the educational value of archaeological finds in their context, and promote the care and protection of the historic environment on a local level.

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, said:

'The success of the PAS and cannot be overestimated in terms of our understanding of our past. The sheer variety and diversity of finds registered over the schemes 17 year history is extraordinary and the one millionth find is truly exciting milestone.'

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

'The one millionth find recorded represents an incredible landmark for the PAS. The British Museum's role managing the Scheme has been instrumental in its success, ensuring through its network of locally based Finds Liaison Officers, that it reaches out to local people where they live, ensuring that the most important archaeological finds are recorded for the benefit of us all'.

The Seaton Hoard - the one millionth find

The hoard (PAS-D7EA4C) of approximately 22,000 copper-alloy coins was found near the previously excavated site of a Roman villa at Honeyditches in East Devon. in November 2013. Realising the significance of the discovery, and that much of it was in situ, the finder (Laurence Egerton, 51) immediately contacted the landowner (Clinton Devon Estates), as well as Danielle Wootton (Devon Finds Liaison Officer who is based at the University of Exeter) and Bill Horner (County Archaeologist). This prompt and responsible action ensured the coins were properly excavated and allowed for the later recording of the hoard and its context at the British Museum. Seaton Down is the largest hoard of coins of the 4th century AD from Britain to have been properly recorded through the PAS and was declared Treasure earlier this month.

It appears that the coins were buried together as a single group in a small isolated pit, the lozenge shaped form of the coin deposit suggests the coins were buried in a flexible container, perhaps a fabric or soft leather bag, though this has not survived. The combined weight of the coins is 68kg and they have been lightly cleaned at the British Museum prior to valuation under the Treasure Act 1996.The coins range from the late AD 260s to the AD 340s, a period of much turmoil in Roman Britain. 99% of the hoard are nummi, common coins struck between AD 330 and AD 341. The group terminates in AD 347-8 during the joint reign of Constantius II and his younger brother Constans, sons of Constantine I. Constans was the last legitimate emperor to visit Britain.

The scale of the hoard is remarkable. This is one of the largest hoards ever found within the whole Roman Empire. Despite the number of coins found, the financial value would not have been great, amounting to approximately four gold coins (solidi): this sum of money would possibly have provided a soldier's food or a worker's salary for two years.

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery in Exeter hope to acquire the hoard and a fundraising campaign has been launched today.

Exeter's Lead Councillor for Economy and Culture Rosie Denham expressed local delight:

"This extraordinary hoard will add greatly to our picture of life in Roman Devon. It would be a wonderful addition to RAMM's collection of local Romano-British objects which includes finds from Honeyditches. We hope that public support will enable us to acquire the hoard. It has so many exciting stories to tell not least of which is the exemplary cooperation between the finder, landowner, PAS and county authorities. We look forward to developing and sharing these stories and invite all to help buy and conserve this important discovery."

Laurence Egerton said:

"Initially I found two small coins the size of a thumbnail sitting on top of the ground. I decided to dig the earth at that spot and immediately reached some iron ingots which were laid directly on top of the coins. The next shovel was full of coins - they just spilled out over the field. I had no idea how far down the coins went so I stopped immediately and phoned my wife to come to the site with a camera. Between finding the hoard and the archaeologists excavating the site I slept alongside it in my car for three nights!

"It's by far the biggest find I've ever had. It really doesn't get any better than! It is so important to record all of these finds properly because it is so easy to lose important insights into our history.", added Mr Egerton.

Bill Horner (County Archaeologist, Devon County Council) said

'It is to the finder's great credit that so many coins were left in the ground to be archaeologically excavated. We realised the significance of the find and mobilised a team as fast as we could. So much more information was retrieved as a result. The coins were in remarkably good condition. Coming out of the ground you could see the portrait faces , a family tree of the House of Constantine!'

Also on display will be:
A medieval papal bulla found in Cheddon Fitzpaine, Somerset (PAS: SOM-FBA501). This lead seal, issued in the name of Pope Paul II (r.1464-71), would originally have been attached to a decree or document granting privileges. The design of the pope enthroned, flanked by his cardinals and with his flock before him is unique. This image also intriguing since Paul was criticised for this abuse of appointing cardinals in secret so as to advance his personal interests. This object has been acquired by The Museum of Somerset.

A post-medieval 'toy' from Swallowfield, Berkshire (PAS: SUR-59B224). This copper-alloy object, probably dating to the 18th century, shows a copulating couple. The object has movable parts, so as to cause amusement. Such bawdy objects are not uncommon, and shed light on entertainment and humour at this time. The find is to be returned to the finder.

Notes to editors:

The Portable Antiquities Scheme: Thousands of archaeological objects are discovered every year, many by members of the public, particularly by people while metal-detecting. If recorded, these finds have great potential to transform archaeological knowledge, helping archaeologists understand when, where and how people lived in the past.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme ( offers the only proactive mechanism for recording such finds, which are made publicly available on its online database. This data is an important educational and research resource that can be used by anyone interested in learning more. The Portable Antiquities Scheme is managed by the British Museum, and funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport through a grant, the British Museum and local partners. Its work is guided by the Portable Antiquities Advisory Group, whose membership includes leading archaeological, landowner and metal-detecting organisations.

All the images for this launch can be obtained from:

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New project receives support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Published: 5 years ago Author:

The British Museum announces today a new Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) initiative that will greatly increase volunteer involvement in archaeological heritage across the UK. PASt Explorers is a five-year project that will create a national network of up to 500 trained volunteers who will participate in archaeological finds work in their local areas, sharing information through the PAS database and within their local communities. The project is generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with a grant of £792,000 over five years.

The project will contribute directly to the construction of new narratives about the history of local communities across England and Wales. It will build on the existing aims of the PAS to increase opportunities for active public involvement in archaeology, especially for people who have never before participated in archaeological heritage. Volunteers will assist in the delivery of public activities in their local areas, including finds recording events, talks, displays and exhibitions and finds handling sessions. The project will raise awareness of the educational value of archaeological finds in their context, and promote the care and protection of the historic environment on a local level.

Volunteers will operate as Community Finds Recording Teams (CFRTs) based around their local Finds Liaison Officer. The teams will be organised into ten regional training centres across the country. They will receive training in order to identify and record archaeological finds from their local area, increasing the number of objects recorded onto the PAS database where the records will be accessible to all, free of charge. Volunteers will also develop a new County Pages section of the PAS website: central resources of information on volunteering and finds activity in each region.

The grant will also support new dedicated posts in the PAS Central Unit based at the British Museum: two Project Officers; an Outreach Officer and an ICT Officer.

The project builds on strong evidence about the power of harnessing volunteers to widen our understanding of our heritage. The PAS has a history of interacting with volunteers and for utilising the power of the crowd. Over 24,000 people have provided data for the PAS database and the public have been able to record their own finds since 2010. A current project run in partnership with the Institute of Archaeology, University College London is making use of crowd-sourcing to create a digital index of Bronze Age finds. A catalogue of index cards relating to single objects and entire hoards from the Bronze Age (ca. 2500 BC - 800 BC) have been photographed and thousands of paper records scanned. The public have been assisting in 3D modelling, transcribing and locating these archaeological finds via a dedicated "crowd-sourcing" website

Roger Bland, Head of the Portable Antiquities Scheme said

'Volunteers have always been vital for the success of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and this generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will mean that we can not only provide many more volunteering opportunities, but also give them the chance to develop their skills. This will enable us to meet our core aim of increasing our knowledge of the history and archaeology of England and Wales for the benefit of all.'

Carole Souter, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund said

'This wonderful project will help spread the reach of the Portable Antiquities Scheme even further across England and Wales. Enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers are the life blood of the scheme: without them it would falter. In recognition of this, individuals will be given further opportunities to widen their knowledge and involvement which in turn will improve the recording of archaeological finds and raise awareness at a grass-roots level.'

Notes to Editors:

The Portable Antiquities Scheme

Thousands of archaeological objects are discovered every year, many by members of the public, particularly by people while metal-detecting. If recorded, these finds have great potential to transform archaeological knowledge, helping us understand when, where and how people lived in the past.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme ( offers the only proactive mechanism for systematically recording such finds, which are made publicly available on its online database. This data is an important educational and research resource that can be used by anyone interested in learning more.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is managed by the British Museum, and funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport through a ring-fenced grant, the British Museum and local partners. Its work is guided by the Portable Antiquities Advisory Group, whose membership includes leading archaeological, landowner and metal-detecting organisations.

The Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported 36,000 projects with more than £6bn across the UK.

For more information:
Media contact: Katie Owen, HLF press office, on tel: 020 7591 6036.

For further information or images please contact:
Hannah Boulton on 020 7323 8522 or

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