Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Number 50: Roman Slave Shackle

Iron shackle, likely for harnessing slaves, which dates to Roman times. It was found in Headbourne Worthy in Hampshire.

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Number 49: Hockley Pendant

This is an attractive and finely carved gold reliquary pendant from Hockley in Essex. On one face is an image of the Virgin Mary carrying the cross, while the other features a representation of the blood of Christ. Around the four sides are inscribed the names of the Three Magi. The pendant features a sliding lid, which would have granted access to a relic.

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Number 48: Epsom Horse Harness

Recently found in a field in Surrey, this item is a gilded copper-alloy horse boss (a decorative fitting for a horse's harness) featuring the royal coat-of-arms of the House of Stuart. It is almost certainly from one of the king's own horses, and can be dated by the coincidence of its discovery at the Durdens, an estate belonging to the Berkeley family, visited at least twice by Charles II in the 1660s.

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Number 47: Pitminster Toy Cannon

This is a fabulous example of a child's toy cannon from the 18th Century. Though the copper-alloy item is missing one wheel and the carriage is incomplete, it is still possible to appreciate the remarkable realism with which this was constructed. It may well have been intended to fire real 'cannonballs' using gunpowder!

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Number 46: The Sedgeford torc terminal

A badly damaged gold torc, or necklace, dating to the Iron Age, this item was found in two pieces, on two separate occasions, almost 50 years apart. It appears to have suffered damage from a plow, resulting in the separation of one terminal and the unravelling of the many gold wires that make it up.

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Number 45: A medal from World War One

George Humber's Distinguished Conduct Medal for service in the First World War was found in Limpsfield, Surrey, just outside the M25. Thankfully the finder, Manuel Nicdao, reported it to his Finds Liaison Officer David Williams, who researched Sjt. Humber's story. George Humber was born and died on the Isle of Wight, and so it was agreed to advertise the find in a local paper in an appeal to locate his living relations. Thankfully Mr Humber's family was located and contacted by Frank Basford, the Finds Liaison Officer for the Isle of Wight, and Mr Nicdao was able to pass on the medal to them.

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Number 44: Rochester Cuff-link

This small item, a single silver cuff link button featuring a design of two hearts under a crown, sparked the reporting of over 150 similar styled cufflinks subsequent to its discovery in 2001. They are all decorated with variations on a theme that is believed to relate to the marriage of King Charles II to Catherine of Braganza (Portugal) in 1662. It is now in the collection of the British Museum. 

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Number 43: Tanworth Comb

An Iron Age cast copper alloy comb. The comb is a sub-rectangle in plan. One long edge is convexly curved, forming the upper edge of the comb. The upper surface of both sides of the comb is decorated. 

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Number 42: A figurine of Cautopates

This very evocative figurine found in Newton Kyme, North Yorkshire, is a representation of an attendant of the Roman deity Mithras. The Mithraic cult was popular amongst soldiers in the later Roman Empire.

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Number 41: Cloth seal assemblage

The collection of lead cloth seals found in the River Wear in Durham add greatly to the corpus of information about these items. The condition of these items deteriorates rapidly and precise identification and dating can be difficult.

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Number 40: Putney 'Brothel Token' or Spintria

A copper-alloy disc featuring the number XIIII on the reverse and an image of a couple in a sexual embrace on the obverse, found on the banks of the River Thames in Putney. It remains undecided as to whether this is an actual token, used to pay for the services of a Roman prostitute, or just a raunchy gaming counter. Either way, it is an incredibly rare find from Britain's Roman past. The finder, Regis Curson, has generously donated the item to the Museum of London.

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Number 39: Beddingham Nose

This piece of sculpted copper-alloy found in Beddingham, East Sussex, is most likely a prosthesis dating from the 16th or 17th Centuries. If so, it would have been worn to hide its owner's facial disfigurement, most likely resulting from a disease such as syphilis, though possibly suffered in an accident.

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Number 38: A hoard of Spanish Dubloons

The gold coins recorded here, found in 2010 and 2011 in South East Lincoln, are actually addenda to an original hoard of coins found in the same place in 1928. Some of the original coins were acquired by the British Museum after being declared Treasure Trove. They are all 8-escudos coins (technically it was the 2-escudos coin that was termed a 'doubloon') and were the largest gold coins of the Spanish colonies at the time. It is intriguing to wonder how they ended up being buried near the city of Lincoln in the early 1800s.

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Number 37: Anarevitos gold stater

A single gold stater (coin) dating to the late Iron Age. It was found near Dover in Kent in 2010 and features the inscription 'ANAREVITO' - the name of a previously unknown ruler. Interestingly, on the obverse there is an inscription of a second ruler who is already familiar to us from other coins - Eppilus.

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Number 36: Langstone Hoard

Large Iron Age wooden tankard found close to, but not a direct component of, a hoard of copper-alloy vessels from the edges of a marshy land outside of Newport, Wales

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Number 35: Durham assemblage

A copper-alloy Roman figurine dating to the first to third centuries AD. The figurine is that of a naked Cupid in a flying pose.

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Number 34: Gold Amulet

This Romano-British object, a lamella, is a thin gold sheet measuring just 4cm x 3cm which is inscribed with magical symbols and Greek and Latin characters. It would have originally been folded tightly and held in a narrow diameter cylinder, worn on its owner's person. It is likely to date to the first or second century AD

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Number 33: Llanbedrgoch Artefacts

The hacksilver items recorded here are a small sample of the many and various items from the Viking period which have been discovered in Llanbedrgoch on the Isle of Anglesey over the last 20 years. 

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Number 32: The Hackney Hoard

A group of 80 gold American $20 Double Eagle coins, found in a glass Kilner jar in a back garden in Hackney, Greater London, in 2007. The coins date from 1854 to 1913 and the reason for their burial was a mystery until local man Stephen Selby found evidence for an earlier discovery of coins of the same type, in the same place, 55 years earlier.

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Number 31: Witch-bottle

This is the bottom half of an approximately 6cm diameter green bottle from the early 19th century that contained small iron and bronze objects and a piece of leather. Originally it would have contained human hair and urine. It is representative of a series of objects dating from throughout the post-medieval period which are generally believed to be 'witch bottles'. They were intended to protect the residence where they were buried from evil spells cast by witches on the inhabitants. The witch bottle and its contents are now in the Museum of Lincolnshire Life.

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Number 30: The Sedgeford hoard

A group of 39 gold Iron Age staters found in the leg bone of a cow, in Sedgeford, Norfolk in 2003. The coins were found by a volunteer working for the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (S.H.A.R.P.) as part of the same study where the Sedgeford Torc terminal (number 46 in the series) was found

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Number 29: West Yorkshire Ring Hoard

The hoard is made up of 7 items in total discovered over the course of two years from a West Yorkshire site and eventually acquired by Leeds Museum. The first discovery, in 2008, included three gold finger-rings of various design but dating from the 9th to 10th centuries, a fragment of cloisonné brooch and a gold ingot. Later, the finder discovered two more items likely to have belonged with the hoard, a large gold 10th Century filigree ring and a lead spindle whorl.

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Number 28: The Holderness cross

A garnet inlaid Anglo-Saxon gold cross from around the 7th century AD found in the Holderness area of the East Riding of Yorkshire in the 1960s, but only identified in the early years of the Portable Antiquities Scheme. At this time Christianity was only just being introduced to the Anglo-Saxons, following the mission of St Augustine and his followers. This object therefore probably belonged to one of the first Christians of Northern England. It is now on display at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

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Number 27: Hoard of forgeries of French coins

Over 7,000 debased silver coins which resemble French deniers. The particular type of coins they imitate were circulated in the French colonies in America during the early 18th century, so the fact they such a large number were discovered in the foundations of a house in Hampshire is a mystery.

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Number 26: River Stour Pilgrim's Badge

A medieval lead badge in the form of the head reliquary of St. Thomas Becket (which contained part of the saint's skull lopped off when he was murdered in 1170), is just one of many that have been found at the bottom of the River Stour in Canterbury. Such badges would have been worn by pilgrims visiting the holy site of St. Thomas' martyrdom, Canterbury Cathedral. According to the late Geoff Egan, they may have been thrown into the River Stour as a votive offering of thanks for the blessing of having made the journey successfully. The River Stour pilgrims' badges have been acquired by Canterbury Museum.

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Number 25: The Frome Hoard

The largest hoard of Roman coins from a single pot ever found in Britain. Dave Crisp discovered the hoard in Frome, Somerset, in 2009 and immediately stopped digging and contacted his Finds Liaison Officer (FLO), Katie Hinds. Among the over 52,000 coins in the hoard were a large number of the Emperor Carausius, including four of the finest silver examples seen in Britain. 

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Number 24: Marcus Aurelius Bust from Brackley

A roughly half life-size representation in coppery alloy of a Roman personage or god, this is now believed to be a bust of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. It was found in 1976 by a farm worker who took it to a museum at the time which thought the discovery was nothing special. Luckily the finder and his wife kept the bust and showed it to Anni Byard of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, who recognised its likely antiquity. The striking profile of the bust, which is likely due to it being modeled on a coin, may indicate that it was of local (British) manufacture rather than being an import. This is supported by the stylised beard of the emperor, a Romano-British trait.

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Number 23: The Nether Stowey Hoard

 The hoard comprises four silver spoons, two sections of a silver goblet and a silver bell salt. These items were all found in 2008 only a few hundred yards from the Stowey Court in Somerset, a local which say action during the English Civil War (1642-51). The silverware is hall marked and dates to the early 1600s, and bears the initials 'CGA' which may indicate a connection with one of the residents of the Stowey Court, Charles Angell Gray. The hoard is likely to have been buried during a time of crisis during the war, and unfortunately for its owner, it was never recovered. The hoard now resides in the Museum of Somerset.

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Number 22: Milton Keynes Hoard

This Bronze Age hoard of two gold torcs (necklaces), three gold bracelets and a piece of gold rod, were found in 2000 in Milton Keynes. Because the find was reported soon after discovery, archaeologists were able to recover the ceramic vessel in which the items were contained, which allowed a more secure dating of the Bronze Age gold than had previously been possible. The hoard was acquired by the British Museum, and is on display in its Bronze Age Gallery.

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Number 21: Saltfleetby Spindle whorl

A lead ring-shaped tool dating to the Viking Age. This item is typical of the spindle whorls used for weaving wool into yarn. As the other components of spindles are made from organic products, often the spindle whorl is the only surviving archaeological evidence for the practice. This whorl is rare in that it is covered with runic writing naming several Norse gods. It demonstrates a real and lasting belief among the women of this period in the power of supernatural deities to watch over them.

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Number 20: Finds from Tisbury

The late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age hoard of copper alloy weapons shown in this record is just one piece of evidence that demonstrates that the Tisbury, Wiltshire area held special significance for ancient peoples for over 1000 years. This hoard dates to perhaps 700 BC

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Number 19: Monmouthshire Leopard cup

A Roman copper-alloy drinking vessel with a handle fashioned as a snarling leopard with silver spots and amber eyes, found in Llantilio Pertholey, outside of Abergavenny, Monmouthshire. The cup is a striking symbol of the spread of sophisticated Roman culture to parts of Britain we might think if as being relatively remote at the time.

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Number 18: The Silverdale Hoard

This group of 197 silver object and coins is the third largest hoard of Viking material ever found in England. It was discovered in Silverdale, Lancashire, in 2011; the objects had been contained in a thin lead vessel, now badly corroded and upended in the earth.

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Number 17: Seal Matrix

A large copper alloy seal matrix depicting the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. It was found in Weybridge, Surrey, in 2011 but the inscription around its edge explains that it was the seal of the Augustinian Priory of Stone, Staffordshire.

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Number 16: Carlton Knight

This small copper alloy figure of a knight on horseback, only 5cm tall, was found in Carlton in Lindrick, Nottinghamshire, in 2004. It is an early three-dimensional representation of a knight, and owing to his helmet and the style of his shield (kite-shaped) it is suggested to date from the 12th to 13th centuries. The exact purpose of the figurine is unknown - there is evidence for a fitting on the bottom of the piece, which suggests it was mounted on a larger item. However some have argued that it is a chess piece, as it bears a striking similarity to the Lewis Chessmen. The Carlton Knight is now on display in Bassetlaw Museum.

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Number 15: Winchester Hoard

A hoard of gold Iron Age jewellery items dating to the Iron Age, found in Winchester, Hampshire in 2000. The items include two gold necklaces, one slightly larger (516g) than the other (332g). There are also two pairs of gold brooches and so the hoard seems to represent a 'his and hers' set of matching jewellery. The style of manufacture indicates a Mediterranean origin of the items, suggesting that they were gifts from the Romans to powerful individuals in Southern Britain.

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Number 14: Ashwell hoard

Identifying a new Roman votive (religious) site and a new goddess, the objects in the Ashwell Hoard include 19 thin 'plaques' - sheets of gold or silver impressed with religious scenes and inscriptions, and a silver figurine (her face now sadly missing). The items were found in Ashwell, Hertfordshire, in 2002 and the site was subject to a follow-up excavation, which identified a larger votive landscape containing discreet deposits of Bronze and Iron Age items. The plaques identify the goddess as 'Senuna' and indeed that is the name which appears etched on the detached base of the statuette, found by archaeologists a year after the original discovery. The items are now on display in the Romano-British Gallery at the British Museum.

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Number 13: North West Essex ring

This gold ring features on its bezel a depiction of a figure carrying a cross in one hand, and what appears to be a bird in the other. Above the figure is a more recognizable bird's head, with a curved beak. The mixture of Christian and pagan symbolism seems to indicate that it was made during a time of transition between the belief systems, and possibly made for someone who in fact straddled both worlds. The ring, found in 2011, is therefore thought likely to date to the early Anglo-Saxon period

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Number 12: Blair Drummond Hoard of Torcs

This group of four gold Iron Age torcs (three complete, one in two pieces) was found near Stirling, Scotland, in 2009.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Number 11: Near Lewes Hoard

This hoard of Middle Bronze Age material, found within a ceramic pot near Lewes, East Sussex, in 2011, contains a fascinating array of local and foreign items. The most distinctive items, five copper-alloy Sussex-loop bracelets.

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Number 10: The Vale of York hoard

Found in 2007, this hoard comprises 67 items of silver and 617 silver coins and a gold armring. Most of the items were found stuffed in an elaborately decorated silver-gilt cup. Among the coins are Islamic dirhams, which originated in the Middle East and demonstrate the wide range of the Viking trade network. The Vale of York hoard is the second largest Viking hoard ever found in Britain, and was jointly acquired by the British Museum and York Museums Trust.

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Number 9: The Crosby Garrett Roman cavalry helmet

A fragmented copper alloy Roman cavalry parade helmet, subsequently reconstructed. This item was found in Crosby Garrett, Cumbria, in 2010 and recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Being made of base metal, it was not legally 'Treasure' and remained in the possession of the finder and the landowner, and therefore theirs to do with what they wished. A very rare and impressive survival of the Roman period, it was sold at auction and remains in the possession of an anonymous buyer. Tullie House Museum in Carlisle had hoped to acquire it.

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Number 8: Baldehilde seal from ring

Baldehilde Seal - PAS ID: PAS-8709C3 - This item is a small gold double-sided seal, probably the bezel from a ring, depicting on one side a crude representation of a naked couple engaged in some sort of act (perhaps embracing), and on the other, a portrait of a woman with the inscription BALDEHILDIS. The seal was found in Postwick, Norfolk in 1998. It is thought to date to the 7th Century, and its inscription means that it is possibly connected to an East Anglian princess by the same name (sometimes referred to as Balthild). The seal has been acquired by Norwich Castle Museum.

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Number 7: The Staffordshire Moorlands

The Staffordshire Moorlands Pan is a 2nd century AD enamelled bronze trulla with an inscription relating to the forts of Hadrian's Wall. It was found in June 2003 and in 2005 was bought jointly by the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle, the Potteries Museum in Stoke-on-Trent and London's British Museum, with the help of a grant of £112,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

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Number 6: Hallaton Hoard

The Hallaton Treasure, the largest hoard of British Iron Age coins, was discovered in 2000 near Hallaton in southeast Leicestershire, England, by volunteers from the Hallaton Fieldwork Group. The initial find was made by Ken Wallace on 19 November 2000, when he found about 130 coins with a metal detector

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Number 5: Boar Badge of Richard III from Bosworth Field

                       A rare 15th Century badge from the reign of Richard III.
The silver gilt badge, which measures 1.4 by 1.1in (3.6 by 2.9cm), was found by a metal detecting enthusiast at Stillingfleet, near York, in 2010.
Thousands of the boar-shaped badges were made for the King's supporters in 1483 but few have been found.
Acquired by the Yorkshire Museum for £2,000

Number 4: Chalgrove Hoard

The hoard was discovered in 2003 by Brian Malin while metal detecting on farmland near Chalgrove, less than ten miles from Oxford. He found it only 100 feet away from another hoard, which he and other members of his family had unearthed fourteen years earlier. The jar in the ground held 4957 Roman coins ranging in date from AD 251 to 279. Most of the coins look bronze, but they contain some silver. But this hoard also held a surprise. Fused within the mass of coins lay hidden an important coin revealing the ‘lost emperor’, Domitianus.

Number 3: The Staffordshire Hoard

The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found, anywhere in the world.

Discovered in a field near the village of Hammerwich, near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, England on 5 July 2009,  it consists of more than 3,500 items, that are nearly all martial or warlike in character.

The Staffordshire Hoard totals 5.094 kilos of gold, 1.442 kilos of silver and 3,500 cloisonné garnets. There is nothing comparable in terms of content and quantity in the UK or mainland Europe.

                                                          Photo credit: Portable Antiquities Scheme