2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 20 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Its a funny old game…

You go out to the same fields…. and according to the research there is nothing there….and to be honest you find a load of tat…day after day…week after week and then…these:

Lovelies

Latest coins

For the uninitiated left to right:

Saxon Frisian Type D Sceat minted somewhere around 700AD – Probably a Flemish import. Weight 1.03g. EMC2014.0276

William I (The Conqueror) 1066-1087 – Weight 1.23g – Minted by GODRIC of London, somewhere between 1074-1077. EMC 2014.0277. Note Godric was a Saxon name. So William was still using Saxon moneyers for his coinage as his reign ended these important, prestigious roles went more and more to Norman/French moneyers and the Saxons names disappear. Fascinating….

Hentry III 1207-1272 (Continental Forgery of a Type 5 Long Cross Penny minted somewhere between 1250-1278/9) .

So you see as the great Greavsie would say…it’s a funny old game….but my word when you strike it lucky ….its a beautiful game too….

Roman Silver

This time of year its frustrating knowing the permissions you have and the finds just waiting to be found…but it does give you the chance to research the finds you made in the previous season.

For example, below is a silver siliqua. Found in Harlton last year it is a coin from the Emperor Valens (AD364-78).

Looking at the mint mark it seems to be a rare occurence in the UK at least of a coin struck in Rome itself somewhere around 364-7. According to Sam Morrhead’s excellent book on Roman coins only two other examples of this have been found in Britain to date. There are probably more to be fair but just not reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). Image

 

On the obverse under the wreath section are two initials “R” and “Q”. These relate to the fourth workshop operating in Rome at this time.

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So you see even though you cant get out on the fields there is plenty you can be “finding” nevertheless!

 

“Viking” SIlver Ingot

My second silver ingot …

Harlton Early Medieval Finds….

With everything under crop or water (!) at the moment I took the chance to visit some pasture I have permission on last weekend.I only had a couple of hours but had some good results….

First to pop out of the saturated clay was a lovely mid 13th Century vesica-shaped lead seal matrix. The intaglio device is an eight-pointed star incised into the central region. Unfortunately I have not got any wax or clay to make an impression so I cant decipher the legend. The back of the seal has a moulded-in-relief fleur-de-lys, and an integral lug at one end.

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13th Century Lead Seal….but who owned it….?

Fleur De Lys reverse on 13th Centruty Lead Seal

The next item rescued out of the sludge was of a very similar date was a lovely hand made thimble…it’s a thrill to pick something up that was lost 700 years ago and last sat on a peasants finger as “she” did her sowing….magical….

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Bee Hive Thimble – Hand Made 13-14th Century

IMG_5208Then another object was unearthed – possibly a trade weight or an Apothecary’s weight…it is has unusual design on its face – cross lines run horizontally and vertically. There is then a heart shaped device on the vertical angle with two pellets in the dissected lower quadrants….I will research the device as it may relate to a old Harlton Family..

All of these were found in about a 20m squared area of pasture, its what we call a “sweet spot” in the trade….no Hammered coins yet…but with such domestic/commercial finds…you can bet they are there!

Saxon Strap End!

My first real evidence of 8th-9th Century Saxon activity in the parish…and what a little beauty this one is….

This is an Anglo-Saxon zoomorphic strap-end of Thomas Class A, Type 2 . The attachment end is recessed to accommodate the strap, and  has two rivet holes. The front of the strap-end is decorated with an engraved geometric pattern within a linear border. The terminal is in the form of a stylised animal-head with rounded rearward facing ears and a blunt snout. Overall condition is fine with a deep patina present. There may be evidence of silvering on the reverse but I am not sure…

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Visigoths

ImageI guess everyone dreams about it….no matter whether you are young or old….finding buried treasure….

Whilst there is an element to metal detecting which is exactly this, as you may have gathered, it’s not (just) about that with me and my searches.  I have been trying to find out about the history of my village…who lived here, where and when.

On a Roman site I have permission on I have recovered nearly 50 copper alloy coins, some nice examples…mostly common “grots” as they are known. But a couple of weeks ago I found the most amazing coin. As you can tell from the picture, its gold, and the decoration is very stylised, depicting the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. It would have been minted somewhere in Spain or perhaps southern France, by the Visigothic people who were trying to emulate the Western Roman style of imperial portraiture.

The Visigothic coinage was the basis of the economical system of the Visigoths in Gaul and Hispania, developed during the early Middle Ages (from the 5th to the beginning of the 8th century).

The coin I found is a  tremissis, only minted in gold.

The first coins were minted in Gaul, where Visigoths settled at the beginning of 5th century and then later in the 6th century in the old Roman Hispania province , where the peoples had moved the center of the Visigoth kingdom to after the Battle of Vouillé (507).

The first coins, usually called pseudo-imperial, imitated those circulating in the western part of the Roman Empire and, later, those issued in the eastern part, reproducing the names of Roman emperors. After the year 580, the Visigoths began to strike entirely independent coins, named after the Visigoth kings. The issue of coins ended in the second decade of the 8th century, because of the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, which ended the Visigoth kingdom.

My coin has been dated by the Fitz William Museum to 527-535 AD (so right in the early Saxon period of British History). It would have been worth somewhere between £200-£300 at the time and would have been a very significant loss. Typically these coins would have been used to buy land, large amounts of animals or perhaps been part of a dowry payment. Suffice it to say, who ever lost this would have been upset!

On the reverse is a stylised version of Victory, with the strange “step ladder” behind the figure a representation of a flowing cloak. Again, the Visigoths were imitating Roman Imperial coinage, but as time went on their art became more unique and individual, the representations more obtuse.

ImageWhat is equally apparent is that the Visigothic moneyer wanted to add credence to his coinage still further by remembering to add the Roman Mint Mark of Constantinople to his coin:  CONO[B].

So there you have it…my first evidence of Saxon peoples in Great Eversden – an incredibly beautiful object – a glimpse into a a distinct political and social epoch in world history and yes….a little bit of treasure

 

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