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Alan Graham excavating the Frome Hoard

Sam Moorhead, Finds Adviser, Portable Antiquities Scheme, British Museum writes on the British Museum bog here

When working with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), the concept of a ‘forward job plan’ is somewhat laughable – your work patterns are largely dictated by finds made by detectorists. Some discoveries can completely change your career as the Frome Hoard did for me when it was found by Dave Crisp in April 2010.

Dave had dug down a foot into the ground when he started to pull out pottery and coins from the clay soil. When he realised that he had found a coin hoard, he made one of the most important decisions of his life – he filled the hole in, walked away, and contacted his local PAS Finds Liaison Officer for Wiltshire, Katie Hinds. Katie contacted her opposite number in Somerset, Anna Booth, and a professional excavation of the site took place under the direction of local archaeologist Alan Graham.

 
 
A selection of Roman coins discovered by metal detectorists in Worcestershire in 2011
 
Sebastian Richards, writing for the Cotswold Journal, reports that the Broadway Museum and Art Gallery is exhibiting the Bredon Hoard of Roman coins until the end of May –
 
Two metal detectorists discovered the hoard, the largest ever found in Worcestershire [West Midlands of England], in June 2011. The hoard dates back to the 3rd Century and features 16 different Roman Emperors. Following the discovery, the county archaeology service took over the excavation and it became evident that not only had a hoard been found but also a settlement site with a long and intriguing history.
 
More here.
 
 
 
One of the Roman coins discovered by metal detectorist Stephen Squire. The coin dates from around 37ce
 
Kerry Ashdown, writing in the Staffordshire Newsletter, reports on the discovery of more than 2,000 Roman artefacts in a field in Barlaston, Staffordshire, England –
 
MORE THAN 2,000 Roman artefacts including coins have been declared treasure after being unearthed in Barlaston. Metal detectorist Stephen Squire made the discovery in a field in his home village. His find included rare coins and the British Museum has expressed interest in acquiring three items. The Potteries Museum in Hanley plans to exhibit other items. Mr Squire, aged 49, told a hearing at North Staffordshire Coroner’s Court: “I was on my own that morning but quickly phoned my wife and son to come down when I found the objects.”
 
Councillor Terry Follows, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for greener city, development and leisure, said: “This is a significant find because of the number of coins involved. They were found in broken pottery vessels just one metre below ground. It is a real credit to the finder for treating the discovery so responsibly and reporting it correctly.
 
Full story  here.
 
An artist’s impression of Londinium, centre of the Roman Empire in Britain, circa 200ce
 
Across the river to the south of Londinium was a small suburb that would later become Southwark. It was here, in a Roman cemetery, that two skeletons dating from between the 2-4 centuries ce, and of East Asian origin (possibly Chinese), have been found.
 
It is not yet know if the two individuals were slaves, traders or something else. Trade between China and Rome was already well established through intermediaries by this time; in fact there is an example of Roman jewellery being found in a 5th century Japanese tomb.
 
More here. See also our earlier feature Caesaromagus: A place of unassuming mystery…
  

Wade’s Causeway, North Yorkshire, circa 1995.
Notice at bottom left that there are four upright stones. These are unique in British Roman roads, and are thought to be there to stop the road slipping in the wet peat of winter.
©
Colin Coulson
 
For more on Wade’s Causeway see The Heritage Trust’s feature by Moss here, and the Wikipedia entry on the Causeway here.
  
 
 
Dated 65/70-80ce the writing on this Roman wooden tablet reads Londinio Mogontio. Translated it means In London, to Mogontius
Researchers believe the tablet is the earliest ever hand-written reference to London. It predates Tacitus’ mention of the City in his Annals, which were produced about 50 years later
Image credit The Museum of London Archaeology
 
BBC News reports that –
 
Roman tablets discovered during an excavation in London include the oldest hand-written document ever found in Britain, archaeologists have revealed. The Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) said it had deciphered a document, from 8 January AD 57, found at the dig at Bloomberg’s new headquarters. The first ever reference to London, financial documents and evidence of schooling have also been translated.
 
Over 700 artefacts from the dig will go on display when the building opens.
 
More here.
 
 
 
Discovery of the important Lancaster Roman Tombstone is a direct result of the work of the Historic Environment Service in Lancaster
 
Lancashire County Council [England] have released a proposal to close the Historic Environment Service. This will have a devastating impact on the monitoring and protection of archaeology and heritage in Lancashire. The Historic Environment Service is the last line of defence for archaeology. Without the service there is no guarantee that the destruction of important archaeology and heritage will be prevented. Once destroyed this precious resource can never be replaced.
 
Read more, and sign the petition to save the Historic Environment Service here.
   
 
A Roman sewer discovered by a contractor below the corner of Church Street and Swinegate in York, England. Photographed in 1972 it was hailed as one of the city’s most important finds
 
More old photos of underground York here.
   
 
Three of the coins were issued by Mark Antony in 31bce and were still in circulation nearly 200 years later
Photo Credit: Wales News
 
Archaeology & Arts reports on a hoard of Roman coins, and two medieval rings, which were declared treasure at Cardiff Coroners’ Court last week –
 
Silver coins dating back nearly 2,000 years to the Roman period and two Medieval rings have been declared treasure about a year after being found in a field by walkers using metal detectors. The coins and rings were declared treasure, among other items including a brooch and a Bronze Age hoard by saw senior coroner for Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan Andrew Barkley at Cardiff Coroners’ Court last week.
 
The Roman silver coins were discovered by Mr. Richard Annear and Mr. John Player while metal detecting in a field at the village of Wick in the Vale of Glamorgan on 13 December 2014. The coins were found partly scattered by previous ploughing and the finders left the undisturbed portion in the ground before reporting the finds to Mark Lodwick, Co-ordinator of the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales (PAS Cymru) and archaeological curators at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. This allowed museum staff to lift it intact for detailed excavation in the museum laboratory.
 
More here.
   

Coins dating from 286–293ce from the Frome Hoard. The coins depict the usurper Roman emperor Carausius

A new exhibition now running at the British Museum focuses on the practice of hoarding in prehistoric and Roman Britain –

People have been placing metalwork and valuable objects in the ground and in water since the Bronze Age (c. 2200–800 BC). These prehistoric hoards are widely accepted as having been deposited as part of ritual practices. Later hoards were traditionally seen as a response to invasion threats and economic upheaval – riches buried in the ground to be retrieved at a later date. The 2010 discovery of a huge Roman coin hoard in Frome in Somerset raised many questions about this traditional interpretation, suggesting that ritual practices also played a part in the burial of Roman hoards.

This display showcases some recent discoveries of hoards reported through the Treasure Act and studied at the British Museum. It begins with the large metalwork deposits of the Bronze and Iron Ages such as the Salisbury hoard and weapons found in the River Thames at Broadness.

The exhibition will run until 22 May 2016 and can be found in Room 69a of the Museum. Admission is free. More here.

  

 
 
Stone way-marker on Murk Mire Moor, North Yorkshire
©
The Heritage Trust
 
Historic England’s latest feature on its blog here examines some of the ancient paths and highways of England –
 
From main roads connecting towns and cities to meandering green lanes and mysterious paths to nowhere, our highways and byways are steeped in history. Freight lorries bound for the Continent still use prehistoric tracks, long-distance coaches hurtle along Roman roads and farmers depend on medieval lanes to reach their fields.
 
For more features by The Heritage Trust on ancient roads click on the Ancient roads and tracks category above
 
 
2,000 year-old Roman figurine of Mercury
©
Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS)
 
Ben Miller, writing in Cuture24, reports on –
 
The 1,000th officially recorded archaeological find of the year in Yorkshire… Registered on May the 15th – the day of the festival of Mercury – a 2,000-year-old figurine of the Roman god, found by Dave Cooper while he was metal detecting in a field near Selby, is a remarkable reminder of Roman times.
 
“It honestly was pure coincidence – but a very happy one,” says Rebecca Griffiths, the Finds Liaison Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme at the York Museums Trust.
 
Read more here. You can also discover more about the figurine here, and Public Finds Days will be held by the PAS at Hull and East Riding Museum on July 31, September 25 and November 27 from 11am-1pm and at the Yorkshire Museum on June 5, August 7, October 2, December 4 from 10am-1pm.
 
 
Romano-British tombstone found in Cirencester, England
 
On the 25 February we reported on a rare Roman-British tombstone that had been discovered in Cirencester, southern England. Today we learn that because the tombstone was found on private land belonging to St James’s Place (a wealth management company) it might not be displayed in Cirencester’s excellent Corinium Museum (situated just a few hundred metres from where the tombstone was unearthed) and may not even stay in the area at all.
 
The Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard quotes Amanda Hart, Director of the Corinium Museum, as saying, “I really, really hope it comes back to Cirencester…” A spokeswoman for the St James’s Place wealth management company, however, is reported as saying, “Unfortunately we haven’t come to a conclusion yet, we haven’t quite firmed it up.” and declined to comment further.
 
The Heritage Trust strongly urges those in a position to decide the fate of this rare artefact from Britain’s Roman period to do the honourable thing and donate it to the Corinium Museum where it can be appreciated by all members of the public and not just by a select few.
 
Related article here.
 
 
 
Roman tombstone found in Cirencester, England
 
BBC News Gloucestershire reports today on a rare Roman tombstone, made of Cotswold limestone, which has been discovered in Cirencester, England –
 
Cirencester, or Corinium as it was known, was the second largest town in Roman Britain after London. Neil Holbrook from Cotswold Archaeology said it was “very, very exciting” and the number of other such examples in Britain could be “counted on one hand”.
 
More here.
   
 
A decorated bronze jug handle from the Whitchurch excavation, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England
 
Becca Choules, writing for The Bucks Herald, reports on –
 
The remains of a 2,000-year-old Roman burial casket discovered near Whitchurch are now on display at Bucks County Museum after a metal detectorist made the chance find.
 
The excavation revealed a Roman (late 2nd century AD) wooden casket burial, measuring 1.1m long and 0.7m wide, with a rich assemblage of grave goods including two Samian ware cups, two Samian ware dishes, a pottery flagon or dish, two glass vessels, a bronze jug with decorated handle, a bronze patera (dish), an iron lamp, two unidentified lead objects and an urned cremation burial.
 
The finds have been cleaned and analysed by specialists at Oxford Archaeology, a report has been written about the discovery and the landowners and finder donated the finds to Buckinghamshire Museum. The county museum will be fundraising later in the year to gather the £3,000 needed to get all the finds, especially the fragile bronze flagon, properly conserved to enable further study and display.
 
Lesley Clarke OBE, Bucks County Council’s cabinet member for planning and environment, said: “This is a fascinating discovery. It’s an excellent example of how our archeological team is carefully looking after the county’s heritage for the benefit of future generations.”
 
More here.
 

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