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22,000 copper-alloy coins dating from 260ce-340ce found in Devon, England
The Trustees of the British Museum
Ben Miller, writing for Culture24, reports that –
The Royal Albert Memorial Museum has launched a public appeal to buy the largest hoard of 4th century coins ever found in Britain.
Laurence Egerton discovered 22,000 copper-alloy coins near a known Roman villa at Honeyditches, in East Devon [England], last November. Experts from the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which announced one of the coins as its millionth find in its annual report today, praised Egerton’s “prompt and responsible” decision to report the hoard, which ensured the artefacts were properly excavated and recorded.
The asking price for the hoard will be decided by the British Museum’s Treasure Valuation Committee later this year. “This extraordinary hoard will add greatly to our picture of life in Roman Devon,” said Rosie Durham, Exeter’s Lead Councillor for Economy and Culture, praising the “exemplary co-operation” between Egerton, the landowner and the authorities. “It would be a wonderful addition to the museum’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.”
Full Culture24 article here. See also The Telegraph article here.

The Inscribed Strip from the Staffordshire Hoard

Dr David Symons reveals the secrets of another object from the Staffordhshire Hoard – The Inscribed Strip…

More on the Staffordshire Hoard here.


Katherine Baxter, Curator of Archaeology at Leeds City Museum, holding a terracotta antefix of Medusa. 300-200bce from Lanuvium, Italy

Stephen Lewis, writing in The Press reports that –

Some of the British Museum’s finest Roman treasures have come to Leeds as part of a touring exhibition examining the lives of Romans in Yorkshire.

Roman Empire: Power & People features stunning objects from throughout the Roman world, from Egypt to Italy, Germany and, of course, Roman Britain. The Leeds City Museum has combined the British Museum treasures with Roman objects from its own collection and from other museums in Yorkshire, including York’s own Yorkshire Museum. The result is an exhibition that reflects the power, vastness and might of the Roman Empire, but also considers Britain’s – and Yorkshire’s – place within that empire, says Katherine Baxter, curator of archaeology at Leeds City Museum. It also aims to give a personal insight into what the lives of Romans living here were like: and whether ‘being Roman’ was the same for people in Yorkshire as it was for those in Rome.

To coincide with the exhibition, which runs until 4 January 2015, there will be a series of lectures and family events including talks about rural life in Roman Yorkshire, and a lecture on Roman York.

Full article and further details on the exhibition here.

The Didcot Iron Age Mirror
In May this year we reported that the Iron Age Didcot Mirror (discovered near Didcot in southern England by a metal detectorist) had been sold to an anonymous overseas buyer. Due to its historical importance however Culture Minister and Wantage MP Ed Vaizey temporarily blocked its export to see if a buyer could be found in the UK. Vaizey was reported as saying, “The Didcot Mirror is a beautiful object dating from the Iron Age and would be a tremendous addition to any one of our many outstanding national, regional and local museums. I hope the export bar I’ve placed allows time for a UK buyer to come forward and secure it for the nation.”
We learn today that Oxfordshire County Council’s Museums Service has been successful in its appeal to raise £33,000 to purchase this rare bronze Iron Age mirror. They report that –
The mirror, which dates from the 1st century BC, is decorated with a highly unusual and beautiful curvilinear La Tène style pattern. These particular mirrors are unique to Britain and only 18 complete ones are known to exist. The only one to have been found in Oxfordshire, the mirror was discovered near Didcot some years ago, by a metal detector user and was recently sold to an anonymous bidder and would have been exported had the appeal not reached its target.
Hours to spare
The Friends of the Oxfordshire Museum had until September 12 to raise the local funds needed to keep the mirror in the country and to put it on display in Oxfordshire. The target was therefore met with only hours to spare. The Appeal, launched by the Friends of the Museum, remains open to receive further donations to contribute towards the costs of conserving and displaying the Mirror and undertaking further research which aims to reveal more of its hidden story.
For further information or to make a donation please visit –
To make a donation online through Just Giving –
Full Oxfordshire County Council’s Museums Service press release here.
Japanese Archaeology in the Digital Age
The Launch of A New Online Resource for teaching about Japanese Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (ORJACH)
Japan has one of the best archaeological resources in the world. And yet many of the treasures that archaeologists have uncovered throughout the archipelago over the past 150 years remain little known to the outside world. As well as being a valuable research resource, Japan’s archaeology and cultural heritage can contribute to education in many different ways. To help teachers and students, the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, supported by Hitachi Europe Ltd and Hitachi Solutions Ltd, has developed a new English-language Online Resource for Japanese Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (ORJACH).
A draft version of ORJACH is currently available at ( and everyone is invited to submit comments and statements of interest via that website, which will help us complete the final version.
ORJACH will be formally launched at a public seminar at the Japan Foundation in London on Tuesday September 23rd, on Japanese Archaeology in the Digital Age, which will set ORJACH in context of other digital archaeology initiatives, including the new free open-access online Japanese Journal of Archaeology published by the Japanese Archaeological Association ( the Digital Repository of Japanese Archaeological Reports, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
6pm:       Registration

6.30pm:  Seminar
– Introductory remarks: Dr Simon Kaner
– Presentation about the Online Resource for Japanese Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (Don Henson, Ben Hui, Nakamura Oki)
– Digital developments in Japanese archaeology (Professor Miyamoto Kazuo)
– Discussant: Professor Julian Richards

8pm:        Drinks reception


This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please e-mail the Sainsbury Institute at

Venue: Tuesday, 23 September 2014 from 6pm at the Japan Foundation London Office, Russell Square House, 10-12 Russell Square, London WC1B 5EH.
4,000 year-old Japanese dogū figurine
A 4,000 year-old figurine, found in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, 14 years ago, has been officially designated as a National Treasure by the Japanese Government. Known as dogū, the figurine stands 34 centimetres tall and weighs 2.7 kilograms. Made of coiled clay it was found in an almost perfect condition in Nagano’s Nakappara site on the  23 August 2000. The figurine is thought to date from the end of the Jōmon Period (12,000bce-300bce). The Japanese Council for Cultural Affairs recommended that the figurine be designated a National Treasure in March.
The figurine is currently on display at the Togariishi Museum of Jōmon Archaeology and will appear at the National Treasures of Japan exhibition to be held at the Tokyo National Museum from 15 October – 7 December 2014.

The Lunder Conservation Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum

At the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Lunder Conservation Center, visitors have the unique opportunity to see conservators at work in five different laboratories and studios. The Center features floor-to-ceiling glass walls that allow the public to view all aspects of conservation work–work that is traditionally done behind the scenes at other museums and conservation centers


A black basalt rabbit by Sheldon, circa 1911, from the Wedgwood Museum’s collection
Photo: © Art Fund, by Phil Sayer
Martin Bailey, writing in The Art Newspaper on 1 September 2014, reports that there is still £2.74m required in order to stop the 80,000-strong collection in the Wedgwood Museum from being dispersed at auction –
The UK’s Art Fund is campaigning to raise £15.75m to save the Wedgwood Museum’s collection from being auctioned at Christie’s and dispersed. The museum, which remains open, houses more than 80,000 works of art and ceramics, including paintings by Stubbs and Reynolds, with some objects dating back to the founding of the pottery firm in 1759. Most of the money has been raised, but there is still £2.74m to go in a public fundraising appeal that ends on 30 November.
In an unprecedented crisis, the Staffordshire-based Wedgwood Museum Trust, which owns the collection, is facing a claim over a £134m pension debt… The administrator of Waterford Wedgwood, the Begbies Traynor insolvency company, has now agreed to sell the museum’s collection to the Art Fund. If the money is raised, the fund will then transfer ownership to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which in turn will loan the entire collection back to the Wedgwood Museum at Barlaston, four miles from Stoke-on-Trent.
Full The Art Newspaper article here.
The last ever new episode of Time Team will go out this Sunday (7 September) on Channel 4 from 8:00pm. Titled The Boats That Made Britain… Sir Tony Robinson, Phil Harding and Francis Pryor join, “…a team of experts as they strive to reconstruct the Dover Boat – one of the oldest seagoing boats in the world.”
More on Francis Pryor‘s blog here. See also our earlier feature Bronze Age Boat to sail again.
A linear Neanderthal engraving found on a rock at the back of Gorham’s Cave, Gibraltar
Image credit Stewart Finlayson
Paul Rincon, Science editor, BBC News website, reports in BBC News Science & Environment yesterday that –
…the geometric pattern [above] identified in Gibraltar, on the southern tip of Europe, was uncovered beneath undisturbed sediments that have also yielded Neanderthal tools. Details of the discovery by an international team of researchers has been published in the journal PNAS.
There is now ample evidence that Neanderthal intellectual abilities may have been underestimated. Recent finds suggest they intentionally buried their dead, adorned themselves with feathers, painted their bodies with black and red pigments, and consumed a more varied diet than had previously been supposed. One of the study’s authors, Prof Clive Finlayson, director of the Gibraltar Museum, said the latest find “brings the Neanderthals closer to us, yet again”.
Full BBC article here.
Mildred, I’ve kept going as straight as I can. Is it alright to turn round now?
The Wikipedia entry for Sir Cecil Chubb reads in part –
Stonehenge was put up for auction in 1915 by the Antrobus family following the death in World War I of the only surviving male heir. Cecil Chubb’s interest in the local area led to him attending the sale, with him bidding and purchasing Lot 15 on a whim for £6,600… as he wished to avoid the stones being acquired by someone overseas. It is also speculated that he bought the stones as a present for his wife, only for her to be less than pleased with his new purchase.
He gave Stonehenge to the nation on 26 October 1918. The deed of gift included the following conditions:
First that the public shall have free access to the premises hereby conveyed and Every part thereof on the payment of such reasonable sum per head not exceeding one shilling [about 70 pence today] for each visit and subject to such conditions as the Commissioners of Works in the exercise and execution of their statutory powers and duties may from time to time impose. Secondly that the premises shall so far as possible be maintained in their present condition. Thirdly that no building or erection other than a pay box similar to the Pay Box now standing on the premises shall be erected on any part of the premises within four hundred yards of The Milestone marked “Amesbury 2” on the northern frontage of the premises and Fourthly that the Commissioners of Works will at all times save harmless and keep indemnified the Donors and each of them their and each of their estates and effects from and against all proceedings costs claims and expenses on account of any breach or non observance of the covenants by the Donors to the like or similar effect contained in the Conveyance of the premises to the Donors.
And importantly that, “Local residents are still entitled to free admission to Stonehenge because of a different agreement concerning the moving of a right of way.” That agreement is a resolution passed by Amesbury Parish Council on 12 April 1921 which states, “The Council relinquishes all claims on the right of way now enclosed, on condition that all householders and their families, (or all inhabitants) of the parishes, comprising the Rural District of Amesbury, and the householders and their families (or inhabitants) of the Parish of Netheravon, be granted free admission to Stonehenge at all times.”
Seems straightforward enough but, according to yesterday’s Salisbury Journal, English Heritage have changed the rules and free access is now restricted to local residents comprising no more than one adult and three children. Local resident, Colin Watson, is reported as saying however that, “I think that it is absolutely outrageous that English Heritage has changed this policy via the back door. For years people have managed to visit Stonehenge free of charge and I think what they have done is against the agreement that was laid out when Sir Cecil Chubb gave the land to the nation.”
An English Heritage spokesperson has stated that, “With the introduction of our advanced ticketing system we felt it was important to provide more information to people wanting to visit Stonehenge when demand was so high. We refreshed the application criteria to ensure it was available to all genuine local residents. By doing this we believe we have increased and extended access because every adult can now bring children with them. Take up of local resident passes has increased significantly this year and we are delighted to have seen a surge in people from the local area visiting Stonehenge and the new visitor centre.”
Full Salisbury Journal article here.

Delft biblical wall tile showing the Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness. Dutch, 17-18th century? 131mm x 131mm
Private collection Great Britain

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Matthew: Chapter 4, 1-11. King James Version.

This wall tile shows the Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness. The Devil is offering Christ stones to be turned into bread (note what seems to be a wooden cross on the left hand side of the roundel). The tile has an interesting history; it was discovered in a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan by cleaners while sorting through the temple’s unwanted bric-a-brac. Given the long (400-year) relationship between the Dutch and the Japanese it’s not surprising that an object with a biblical theme should have found its way to Japan. It’s a mystery, however, why such an object should have ended up in a Buddhist temple in Kyoto. Perhaps one of our readers can shed more light on the subject.



September 2014
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