Finds Roadshows – A Success!

Published: 17 years ago Author:

On Saturday 27 November 2004 the Portable Antiquities Scheme ran finds identification and recording roadshows in Colchester, Donington, Exeter, Reading, Shropshire, Wrexham and York. In many cases other events were organised to coincide with the Roadshows, often attracting more people to come along.

In total these events were attended by more than 1100 people – adults and children alike. In some cases they queued for more than an hour to ensure their discoveries were properly identified and recorded! On the day almost 900 finds were seen by the Finds Liaison Officers, of which over 390 were recorded.

Bill Wyman  – rock legend and metal-detectorist – opened the Finds Roadshow at Colchester Castle Museum. Bill is a great fan of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and regularly records his finds with the team in Suffolk.

Besides the Roadshow people had the opportunity to meet ‘real’ Romans of the Colchester Roman Society and learn about Roman crafts and pottery. There was even the opportunity to dress up as Roman soldier! Philip Wise (Curator of Archaeology) gave tours of the museum and its galleries, and experts were also on hand to provide information about Countryside Stewardship Schemes.

Many objects were seen by the Finds Liaison Officers including a Roman key, a fifteenth-century silver gilt pilgrims badge (now declared Treasure) and a Mesolithic tranchet axe, as well as several interesting Roman and Iron Age coins. 

At Donington le Heath Manor House in Leicestershire there was lots to do for the public who came along to the Finds Roadshow. Local experts were on hand to talk about their work and there were hands-on-activities, including ‘dig boxes’ and an archaeological excavation simulation. Finds displays were organised by local fieldwalkers Kate Don and Mick Morris and members of the Leicester Search Society and the Meton and Belvoir Search Society. Wendy Scott (Leicestershire & Rutland Finds Liaison Officer) was really pleased with the displays - ‘the fieldwalkers and both metal-detecting clubs put on excellent and varied displays, which gave visitors a really good idea of the types of objects that turn up’.  
Finds Liaison officers kept busy
The Finds Liaison Officers are kept busy recording finds at the Donnington Roadshow

Although the Roadshow was quieter than anticipated – perhaps due to people going Christmas shopping – 143 people attended the event.

 Fitting with rock crystal
The copper-alloy fitting with rock crystal – one of the finds recorded at the Donnington Roadshow.

Nicky Powell (Devon Finds Liaison Officer) declared the Finds Roadshow at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter ‘a phenomenal success’! The South-West Finds Liaison Officers were overwhelmed by the response of local finders who attended the event and recorded their finds. 
Kurt Adams and Katie Hinds hard at work
Finds Liaison Officers recording finds at the Exeter Roadshow

Besides the Finds Roadshow local author and finds specialist Brian Read was on hand to talk about metal-detecting and his publications. There was also a display of metal-detecting finds found by local people. Children had the opportunity to handle real archaeological finds and dress up as Romans!

The Romans are here!
Dressing up as Romans

It was a slow day for the Finds Liaison Officers in Reading, although lots of visitors were attracted to other events in the museum which had been organised to coincide with the Finds Roadshow. These including spinning and weaving activities, pot making, face painting, coin striking and the opportunity to dress up in historical costume. Indeed, 399 people visited the museum!

Finder with cohort of FLOs
The finders were kept busy at the Museum of Reading!

This said several interesting finds were brought in for recording including a Medieval copper-alloy openwork knife handle with heraldic motif and a gold Iron Age stater.

Iron Age gold stater
The gold Iron Age coin recorded at the Reading Roadshow

The Finds Roadshow at Shrewsbury was a half day event organised to coincide with a conference about recent archaeological work in Shropshire, and provided an extra attraction for conference goers. A small display of local finds, including some metal-detected finds, was also organised.

Whilst there was a fee to go to the conference the Finds Day was FREE and the small team of Finds Liaison Officers were kept busy recording finds including some rather nice Bronze Age objects and beautiful a gold seventh-century pendent - consequently reported as potential Treasure.  

Gold pendant
The Anglo-Saxon gold pendant

Mark Lodwick (Finds Co-ordinator, Wales) and the staff of Wrexham County Borough Museum had an unbelievably busy day in North Wales. Over 500 finds were brought in for recording, including a Bronze Age socketed gouge and a Medieval finger ring. Mark was particularly pleased that the finder has not cleaned out the socket of the gouge, which might help provide vital clues about the object.

Axehead uncleaned 
The uncleaned socketed gouge recorded at the Wrexham Roadshow
As with the Finds Roadshows elsewhere other activities were organised to coincide with the event, including a finds display and hands-on archaeological activities for younger children, such as a mini dig!    
Display case Wrexham
A display cabinet of local metal-detected finds at the Wrexham Roadshow

The Finds Liaison Officers at the Finds Roadshow in York had a busy morning, but in the afternoon it was dead! York was busy with Christmas shoppers and it was felt that this may have put off people coming into the city for the Roadshow. The Roadshow was also being filmed as part of a documentary about a significant find reported to Simon Holmes (North and East Yorkshire Finds Liaison Officer) and this might have put off the camera shy. Do such people exist'

FLOs at work
The Finds Liaison Officers recording finds at the York Finds Roadshow

Amongst the finds reported included two items of potential Treasure, several Roman and Medieval coins, a Roman trumpet brooch and a rather nice Medieval buckle and plate (now in three parts). People visiting the Finds Roadshow were also able to enjoy demonstrations of Roman armour and handle archaeological objects from the Museum’s reserve collection.  

Medieval buckle and plate
The Medieval buckle and plate

All in all the Roadshows were great success. Lots of people offered finds in for identification and recording and no doubt many would have not done so had the Roadshows not been organised. It was also a good opportunity for the Finds Liaison Officers to get together, share their experience, learn more and meet new people.

Contact: Michael Lewis +44(0) 207 323 8611

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