It pays to be “good”…

Thanks to my background (a former professional archaeologist), and my recent induction into the hallowed echelons of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) as a trusted self recorder I am invited to take part on exciting projects. One such occasion occurred recently, where I was asked to help out my friends at CAFG (Cambridge Archaeology Field Group), as they field walked a new site in a nearby parish.

A distinct pottery scatter had been identified, with shell tempered ware and general roman detritus in abundance over a complex of LIDAR discovered cropmarks. What was unique, was the constrained abundance of the scatter. The site started and stopped very distinctly in an area of approximately 20m2 .

Fellow detectorists will know what I mean next: I had that feeling…that anticipation…the almost certain knowledge that this was going to be a good spot…The first find was a childs silver finger ring (now inside the treasure process); next a fabulous sestertius of Marcus Aurelius in amazing condition…then more coins and then brooches placing the site in use between the 1st Century AD right through to the 4th …Yet I still had that nagging feeling…there was more, and better, to come.

What came up next took my breath away. An early Iron Age bucket mount !

These pieces are rare, especially with such a primitive style. The mount is in the form of anthropomorphic stylised human face on the head of a bull or ox, with side projecting horns.

The horns run across the forehead of the piece and an inscribed line curves between the base of each horn section for a length of 22.27mm. The right side measures 12.99mm from the side of the head outwards. The left horn is slightly more worn and truncated, measuring 10.11mm. Beneath the incised line between the two horns is an eyebrow ridge which measures 11.51mm in length and 1.81mm in width. Two close set eyes sit either side of a nose ridge. The eyes are 2mm in diameter and 1.8mm in depth, and 1.8mm apart. The nose ridge runs for a length of 9.29mm towards the mouth area. No mouth is apparent, however the chin of the face juts forward emphasising the human nature of the representation. The brow area extends forward 6.62mm from the rear of the piece, compared to the chin being 13.08mm forward.

The head is delimited by a neck area which measures 12.89mm in thickness. This area then expands to form two stubby arms which extend laterally from either side of the body. The arms extend 5.8mm from the torso of the piece. The arms measure 5.5mm in thickness at their base, but taper to end points, essentially forming pyramid shaped arms.

The torso of the mount has a concentric circle pattern inscribed upon it. Two inscribed circles surround a centralised dot. The larger of the circles measures 9.55mm in diameter. The inner circle measures 5.95 in diameter. The central dot, 1.62mm. The torso flares out slightly at its base before an area of iron corrosion is present. The iron corrosion extends a further 7.77mm at the front of the base of the mount, and 19mm up the back of the mount.

The total length of the copper alloy mount at its longest point is 32.43mm. As indicated above the iron corrosion extends this length at its maximum point by 7.77mm. The rear of the copper alloy mount only extends to 22.46mm, suggesting the mount itself was cast with a base set at 45 degrees, to enable it to be set within an iron base.

The reverse of the mount is flat and entirely plain.

WOW!

 

But …there was more…within a few feet out came a beautiful gold stater. My first full stater, previously I had only been lucky enough to find a quarter stater.

Middle Whaddon Chase gold stater, struck by the Catuvellauni tribe c. 45-40BC.

The coin is slightly convex on the obverse face, and as a consequence, concave on the reverse face. Overall the striking is good on the reverse, however the obverse has an area where the striking is less clear. There are two slight chips to the rim of the flan. The obverse shows an abstracted head of Apollo right, whilst the reverse, a romanised horse right.

So you see…doing things “right”…being helpful and being honest…opens up amazing opportunities…think on that my friends…and be a “good” detectorist.

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PAS Recording

I am now a fully qualified Portable Antiquities Scheme public recorder. Hurrah!

Only 1 of 4 people in the EastAngian Region I am led to believe…Thanks to my FLO Helen Fowler and Sam Moorhead at the BM for their patience and training…you can see my first coin record here:

https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/770604

…and here is a picture of my Licinius, a copper alloy nummus (AD308 to 324), (Reece Period 16). Obverse: IMPLIC INIUSAVG. Laureate and draped bust right. Reverse: DOMINI.N.LICINAVG around wreath enclosing VOT / X.X. Mint: AQS – Aquileia

Dimensions: Diameter: 19.21mm; Thickness1.63mm; Weight 2.6g

Licinius

I’m Henry VIII I am….

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It was the turn of Bluff King Hal to be unearthed today….poor old Henry has had quite a life though. Nibbled, nadgered and gnarled …and clipped….but nevertheless its another Hammy from my new permission. From my research it seems to be a Tower Groat. These were actually struck after Henry’s death and into the reign of Edward VI. Incredibly light ((1.4g) even after it had been clipped: diameter 24mm) and of very poor quality of striking, you can see that the coinage was in a poor state of affairs during this period (1547-1551).

Hammie Live

After watching numerous You Tube videos on fellow detectorists recording the moment of their favorite finds…I thought I would have a go and share with you the moment when a lost 13th century silver coins gets saved from destruction in the plough soil…

The coin can just be seen 3/4 of the way down the right hand side of the photo frame before my trowel comes in and tries to eek it out of its 700 year old resting place.

Next time I will try and film for longer and add some commentary, but I hope you enjoy the thrill as much as did yesterday.

Edward III coming to light…

Here are the other Hammies found that day.

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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.

Image

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

 

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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