Thursday, October 11, 2018 11:16:00 AM
There is a wonderful array of archaeological finds made by the public in Norfolk. In general, because of the sheer volume involved we are only able to record artefacts that are more than a nominal 300 years old. However, if an object has additional merit, for example through its cultural history then we will often try to make an exception.
This artefact unearthed recently in a field near Dereham is one such example. It’s a copper alloy token struck in 1788 to commemorate the jubilee of the so-called “Glorious Revolution” of 1688-1699 when James II was removed from the throne in favour of the Dutch William and Mary.
This was a pivotal time in British history with politics and religion dividing the kingdom into civil unrest. The Dutch invasion force of England assembled by William was four times the size of the Spanish Armada of 1588 and landed in Torbay, Devon on 5th November 1688. Apart from a skirmish near Reading the invasion was largely uncontested with James’s army and supporters defecting in the support of William, including his daughter Anne.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017 11:48:00 AM
June's find of the month is a rather nice and very unusual copper alloy Roman brooch. It is of a type that is representational of an object, which are collectively known as skeuomorphic brooches.
Figure 1. Roman Patera brooch
This particular example (Figure 1) was found near Marham in Norfolk and is very unusual in that it represents a small Roman vessel called a Patera (see Figure 2). The exact purpose of the Patera in Roman life is not entirely clear but it is believed that they were used as simple cooking utensils and/or ceremonially to pour libations or make offerings of food to a chosen deity. There are many other types of representational brooches produced by inventive Roman craftsmen; these include for example amphora, horse and riders, axes, and sandal soles.
Figure 2. Examples of Roman Paterae
To date, there is only one other Patera brooch recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database which was found on the Isle of Wight. Both records can be viewed in full at www.finds.org.uk using the search reference NMS-2104DA for the Norfolk example, and IOW-1EE0B7 for the Isle of Wight example.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015 10:04:00 AM
November's Find of the Month is this fantastic Middle – Late Bronze Age anvil.
Bronze Age anvils are very unusual finds, probably because the metalworkers who used them were easily able to melt down broken ones to create new objects.
Almost every surface of this example would have been used to work bronze or gold, with either of the two ‘beaks’ being used to secure the anvil to a wooden block so the other could be used to shape the metal. Each working surface has a different form allowing a wide variety of shapes to be created using just this one anvil.
At the time this anvil was in use, the number and type of personal ornaments made and worn by Bronze Age people increased, and this anvil would have been used to make some of them. The metalworker who used it would have been highly skilled and was probably seen as powerful, important or even as having a religious role in society. We suspect this because the way Bronze Age tools were treated shows they had a meaning or significance beyond their use as tools, suggesting the people who made them had a role which extended beyond their skills as craftspeople.
Find a full description of the anvil here.
Monday, September 01, 2014 9:02:00 AM
This is a lead bulla, a seal attached to papal documents to prove their authenticity. One face gives the name of the Pope, the other reads SPA SPE above the heads of Saint Paul and Saint Peter. The design changed very little for hundreds of years and one bulla looks very like another except for the name of the Pope, which makes them easy to date. Unfortunately, lead is easily damaged and worn, so some are hard to read. This example is quite clear, and was identified by Dr Tim Pestell (Norfolk Museums Service) as a bulla of Boniface IX (1389 - 1404).
NMS-B74F61 / NHER 59724
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 9:00:00 AM
This beautiful 2nd century copper alloy mount in the form of a youthful male bust has features which suggest a dual identity – a wreath of vine leaves indicating Bacchus, god of wine, and a winged cap indicating Mercury, messenger of the gods.
Although the mount clearly decorated a high status object it was discovered at a site with no other Roman finds and in an area with very little evidence for Roman activity, strongly suggesting it was accidentally lost in transit. An object produced with such fine artistic skill may have been imported from somewhere else in the Empire.
Illustration by J. Gibbons
Whoever owned this object valued Roman taste and fashion and could afford to buy good quality work, but we can’t know if they got to appreciate it, or if it was lost before it was even delivered.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 2:01:00 PM
April's find of the month is a Medieval lead ampulla, found in Woodton.
Ampullae are small lead flasks that were produced in large numbers, filled with holy water at shrines and carried away by pilgrims as a souvenir of their visit. Once filled, the top of the soft lead vessel was sealed by crimping it closed, but many recorded examples were deliberately opened so the water could be used for its beneficial effects.
This 15thearly 16th century example was probably produced and sold at Walsingham, North Norfolk. It is decorated as a scallop shell on one side, and the other face shows an R beneath a lily in a lily pot.
The R may stand for the Lady Richelde of Fervaques, the 'founder' of the shrine at Walsingham, the lily symbolises the annunciation and the Virgin's purity, and the scallop shell represents pilgrimage.