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Celebrating our archaeology volunteers

12 September 2016 by Vanessa

woman at a desk with trays of coins

Volunteer Sophie Flynn starting to clean a hoard of Roman coins

The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) is a voluntary recording scheme for archaeological objects found by members of the public. Every year thousands of objects are discovered, many by metal detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work. Such discoveries offer an important source for understanding our past.

As the scheme’s regional finds liaison officer, covering Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside, I find that every week more and more finds make their way into the office to be recorded for the PAS database. In order to process them all I need help and that comes in the form of some fantastic people willing to give up their time to volunteer. 

Man photographing small objects under studio lights

Volunteer Alex Hilton photographing some finds

My volunteers work on a range of jobs from photography and Photoshop to identifying coins and recording objects. It is brilliant to be able to work with a variety of people in this way, some hoping to start careers in archaeology while others are giving back in their free time. Self-recorders are also part of our volunteer family, known as PASt-Explorers, who record their own objects which they have found through metal detecting or field walking.

At National Museums Liverpool we are hosting the first volunteers’ conference to be held within the regions. Working in partnership with National Museums Liverpool, the British Museum and PAS it is a chance to hear from some of the volunteers who have been contributing to the scheme and also to celebrate their work.

This year’s conference celebrates the contribution of volunteers to the PAS through the project. Through PASt Explorers, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, more people are now volunteering with the PAS, undertaking finds-related work, and helping to share knowledge about archaeological finds.

old coin held in front of screen showing coins in the database

Finds like this coin are recorded in the Portable Antiquities Scheme database

This conference aims to illustrate the diverse nature of the volunteer experience within the PAS and provide the opportunity for volunteers to share these with others, providing inspiration and new perspectives on the contribution to archaeological knowledge and to the history of England and Wales.

It’s also a great chance to explore the Merseyside Maritime Museum, with an extended lunch break to do just that.
The PASt Explorers conference will take place on Thursday 29 September 2016, 10am–4.30pm at the lecture theatre in Merseyside Maritime Museum. Admission is free but advance booking is required – book your place on Eventbrite or call 0207 323 8618.

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