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…




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



Those of you who are regular visitors may recall one of the inspirations behind me dusting off my trowel and University text books was a comment I read in Alison Taylors book – “Archaeology of South West Cambridgeshire”, Alison wrote on the Eversdens: “Apart from two Neolithic flint axes, a reference to Roman pottery occuring near Sing Close and a small quantity of Roman pottery at the not the end of Little Eversden, no early finds have been reported.”

As I have previously stated, this statement was in effect a challenge to me to go out and find evidence of the villages earliest inhabitants. Alison Taylor didn’t get anything wrong by making that statement, she is simply pointing out that no body had really found anything in The Eversdens. Well as you will have judged from the preceding posts I have changed that view quite dramatically, but perhaps no more so than during this weekend’s excursion.

A typical long meandering walk with my Minelab E-Trac (Eva), over fields I have permission on, I happened upon a signal that didn’t appear to be anything too remarkable (15:10). But then, as the clay was parted by my frozen fingers, the glint of gold emerged! Yes, my first ever quarter stater appeared like a ray of sunlight through the muck of our South Cambs soil.

Gently cleaning the coin I was amazed to see the level of detail appear, and what a beautiful white gold colour too…WOW! 

On the reverse is what I understand to be a typical flower motif, but I have yet to see the exact same format…could it be a new type??? ImageImage

Wikipedia provides the following notes on the King of the Trinovantes: Addedomarus:

was a king of south-eastern Britain in the late 1st century BC. His name is known only from his inscribed coins, the distribution of which seem to indicate that he was the ruler of the Trinovantes.

He was the first king to produce inscribed coins north of the Thames, perhaps as early as 35 BC, although some estimates are as late as 15 BC. He seems to have moved the Trinovantian capital from Braughing in Hertfordshire to Camulodunum (ColchesterEssex). For a brief period (ca. 15-10 BC) he seems to have been supplanted by Tasciovanus of the Catuvellauni, who issued coins from Camulodunum at that time. Addedomarus then appears to have regained power and reigned until 10-5 BC, when he was succeeded by Dubnovellaunus.

Addedomarus appears in later, post-Roman and medieval British Celtic genealogies and legends as Aedd Mawr (Addedo the Great).[citation needed] The Welsh Triads recall Aedd Mawr as one of the founders of Britain.

You can then perhaps imagine my delight to take the history of the Eversdens back to the time before Rome…when an early King of the Briton’s bestrode the eastern counties, being famed for his skills as a charioteer, minting and distributing his beautiful coin to his subjects…not bad for a parish where “…no early finds have been reported….”

Ice Ice Baby

Popped out last Sunday, and despite the ice puddles and the clay so wet when you stood still you started sinking I found another interesting collection of buttons and ephemera. Then, as usual, on the way home….EVA, my Minelab E-Trac began to sing a beautiful song:


The Fitzwilliam gave me a preliminary review:

Edward III, 1351-1361 Pre Treaty Coinage, York Mint:


Edward III was a very sucessful king. He ruled for over fifty years in fact and, by the looks of it, this coin stayed in circulation for this long. It is very worn on the obverse (the side with the head on), but the reverse is in fair condition. What you will, dear reader, have noticed is the undoubted signs of clipping. Namely, that the coin is not round any more….some naughty fella or lass has trimmed the silver off the edge of the coin and left it looking rather ovoid in shape.

I don’t care…it’s a Hammie!

One more arrow…

Measuring just 4cm long, this beautiful little stylised arrow popped out of the ground a few weeks ago. It has three small holes along its body, which would have had copper alloy rivets placed through them to hold the “arrow” onto a belt or a casket.


Date is early(ish) Medieval and I haven’t found anything quite like it on the web. SImilar items date to  the 13th-14th Century….but non so cute as my arrow.Image


A while back I mused about getting a new machine….well, just before Christmas I treated myself to a new Minelab E-Trac. Every article I read said they were the best around…but it is always a bit of a risk, a lottery….a punt. I took the plunge.

I also felt there must be better finds out in my fields; my research is good, my field walking identifying good datable scatters…but the old Garrett 550GTAx, whilst finding some things was not to hot on finding the old hammered coins which we all love to find.

Well, thanks to a long Christmas Break and a farmer unable to get on to his fields, I started practicing with Eva (so named because she sounds like Eva out of WalL-E).

Bingo – in three trips of a couple of hours each – three fantastic hammered silver coins.


First King Stephen, 1136-45. It is WatfordType, BMC 1. 19mm in diameter.

You can just make out the legend  + STEFA RE[X] around the bust.

Next one is a Groat of Edward III,  4th coinage, pre-treaty period, Series C. Initial mark, cross 1.  This one is minted c 1351-2. It is a whopper too, having a diameter of 28mm.


Lastly, much smaller and much more worn, measuring just 18mm in diameter is Henry VI Hammered Silver Penny. Minted 1420-1430, bearing the legend: HE[NRICVS REX AN]GL.Image

As you can see the coin has been clipped in antiquity…a process where unscrupulous folk would trim or clip silver coins to shave off bits of the precious metal to….make more coins!

So…all in all a great Christmas…thank you Minelab….thank you Farmer and thank you Helen for letting me go out 🙂

WWI Machine Gun Corps - Rare Cap Badge

Weird what you find sometimes….was looking for hammered pennies….find a WWI Machine Gunners Cap Badge….Found one on E-Bay for £53…Will do more research

Long Time….

I haven’t blogged for a long time.

There are many reasons, but… I am back!

Recently I have been working with the Cambridge Archaeology Filed Group on an amazing project which will be published in 2013. I have also, finally, invested in a new machine – Minelab E-Trac….Wow what a pice of kit….


Anyhow, I have been familiarising myself with it and found a couple of nice pieces with it.

Firstly is a “POD” Button. Now, some of you may think, whats the big deal…it’s a button…but if you internet search POD Button, you will quickly find out that it is a button belonging to the American Post Office Department…So you see, you have to ask the question… “What the heck is this button doing in the middle of a field in Great Eversden!?!”

Next – at the other end of the spectrum is another clothes fastener – but this time it is from the medieval period, somewhere after the 14th century. Its a beautifully simple object in its own right. Ergonomically simple and charming – a really nice find.

So you see – two buttons – two different stories. Same field, centuries and many lives apart.


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