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‘Millionth find’ of archaeological objects

26 September 2014 by Liz

Late Saxon tongue-shaped copper alloy strap

Late Saxon tongue-shaped copper alloy strap end

Today we have a guest blog from Vanessa Oakden, Finds Liaison Officer for Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

“Museum of Liverpool is home to the Portable Antiquities Scheme for the region, and we have been busy recording finds brought in by members of the public, often metal-detector users.

Today the scheme has announced that nationally over a million finds have been recorded! The millionth find is one of 22,000 Roman coins found in Seaton, Devon.

The copper alloy coin, called a nummus,  was struck in AD 332 at the mint of Lyon, in ancient Gaul (modern France).  This hoard was purposefully buried, possibly to keep it safe, but the owner never returned for it.  It’s value would have equated to a worker’s salary for about two years.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is project funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to encourage the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales. Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, many of these by metal-detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work.  We will record the details of all finds over 250 years old, and we take details, measurements and photographs, which are then shared on the PAS database.

A cast copper alloy figurine.

A cast copper alloy figurine.

Currently Museum of Liverpool’s records on the database number 12,698. In 2014 we have created 513 database records of objects found in Cheshire, 65 from Merseyside so far. A particularly interesting object to record was a cast copper alloy figurine of probable Romano-British or possibly later Iron Age date (LVPL-904BD3).  The figurine is in the form of a bull and appears to have originally formed one component of a larger artefact, possibly as a decorative mount for a vessel or similar object. Very few other bronze bulls are known from Britain. It is possible that this example was made in Britain although it could have been imported from Roman Gaul (modern France). The type of artefact to which the object was attached is uncertain.

Another exciting find is this Late Saxon tongue-shaped copper alloy strap end (LVPL-D1295B). Archaeological finds are classified as different types, and this strap-end is a Thomas’ (2004) ‘Class E’ which describes it’s shape and decoration.  Tongue-shaped strap ends such as this one were popular around Europe in the Carolingian empire and in Viking Scandinavia during the 9th and 10th centuries, where they were commonly used to embellish shoulder straps, known as ‘baldrics’ used to carry weapons. This object is currently on display in the History Detectives gallery in the Museum of Liverpool, along with several other interesting Early Medieval finds.”

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