What is the object made from?

These are the main materials objects are made from. A full list can be found in the controlled vocabulary section of the database.

  • Stone: use for all stone other than flint. Very hard, depending on type but usually can’t be scratched by nails.
  • Ceramic: use for all pottery, brick, tile and pipe clay. More precise terms, such as the ware type, can be used in the description field. May have inclusions, some are larger then others. 
  • Copper alloy: use for any alloy which appears to include copper. If you know from analysis that the item is a particular alloy (e.g. bronze or brass) then you can put this in the description field. Generally will be a greenishcolour (corrosion of the copper). Bronze or brass can be more brown or more yellow. Can be various weights, depending on the alloy content. 
  • Iron: This should be used for wrought iron, cast iron or steel. Cast iron only appeared in Britain in the 15th century and was for some time used only for a restricted range of objects e.g. cannons Iron is generally heavy and orange/yellow in colour. It also corrodes very easily so the object may not be distinguishable. Corroded wrought iron can often be recognised by its laminated or fibrous appearance. Cast iron can often be better preserved than wrought iron.
  • Lead: This term should be used if you are fairly certain that the object is pure lead. Lead is often heavy, and whitish or grey in colour, or sometimes with a red patina. Thinner lead objects are sometimes malleable. 
  • Flint: Natural material Flint tools are often opaque; however flint can be a range of colours. Look for worked edges as proof it has been modified by humans. 
  • Wood: Only wood which is clearly worked has archaeological significance, i.e. stakes, bowls. Wood will deteriorate very quickly, and should be kept wet until seen by a specialist. 
  • Glass: Vessels, beads or other items. May be transparent, translucent or opaque. Most Medieval glass tends to be laminated, and has an iridescent quality to it. Later glass is more robust, and comes in various colours. 
  • Silver: This material should be used for items where you suspect that the metal is primarily silver. If you have a compositional analysis, add this in the description field. Usually a dull grey, is not
    very reactive so usually no corrosion. Corrosion is purple or black if it occurs. Can vary in weight
    depending on the content of silver. Earlier items contain more silver, and so are generally heavier.
  • Gold: Use for items where the colour is yellow and lustrous and the object feels heavy. Usually a bright gold colour, it is very inert so you will never see corrosion.
  • Lead alloy: This material should be used if the object looks like lead, but is too light. The most common example is pewter Light grey in colour and sometimes covered with a loose white powder.
  • Jet / Shale Mineral:  minor gemstone Black in colour, lightweight and often shiny surface.
  • Tin Alloy: Use for tin, or for alloyswhere you suspect that the major ingredient is tin. Tin can be quite light in weight and may split into layers when it has been in the ground for any time.
  • Animal Bone: Skeletal remains May just be fragments. Generally creamy colour.
  • Enamel: Coloured glass-like substance. Usually in inlays or as coatings on objects. Can be
    a range of colours
  • Gem: Gemstones Usually found mounted on an object. 

Please remember 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 1st January 2003 also qualify as Treasure. If you find human remains please call the police, local coroner, FLO or local archaeologist. It is illegal to remove human remains without a license.