Share your archaeological finds at the Higgins

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Gold quarter stater of the Catuvellauni struck by Andoco, Streatly (BH-OFIC5E)

30th January 2019 and 27th March 2019 from 1pm – 3pm

Have you ever found archaeological objects whilst digging in the garden, taking the dog for a walk or metal detecting? Would you like to find out more about them?

Then help is on hand.

Bring them in to The Higgins Bedford today (30 January) or on 27th March to show and discuss them with Matt Fittock, the Finds Liaison Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme. There is no need to book, just drop in.

“As the Finds Liaison Officer for Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, it is my job to record the thousands of archaeological objects that are found by members of the public,” explained Matt.  “Most of these are discovered and reported by metal-detectorists, but people also often find things while walking or digging in their gardens and allotments.

“We are generally interested in anything you find that was made before about 1550 as all of them can potentially tell us about where and how people lived in the past from pre-history right through to the Post-Medieval period, and are potentially recordable by your local Finds Liaison Officer on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database (www.finds.org.uk).

“The range of objects I record in a day/week varies considerably. Due to the very large and active metal detecting community in the region most of the finds I record are indeed made of metal, with Roman and Medieval coins being particularly common. However, I also record all manner of other objects too – from Prehistoric flint tools and spearheads to Roman, Medieval and Post-Medieval brooches, cosmetic instruments, buckles, pins and thimbles, as well as non-metal objects, like pottery.”

Copper-alloy early Medieval pin. Streatley (BH-CA3561)

One of the most important parts of Matt’s job is to help finders report treasure to the British Museum and the local coroner.

“This will usually involve filling out a receipt detailing the circumstances of the discovery and then writing a short report on the object(s) that is then checked by curators at the British Museum,” explained Matt.  “If an object is declared as treasure I will then ask local museums whether they are interested in acquiring the find before any subsequent inquests and valuations are then handled by the Treasure Team at the British Museum. Further details about what objects constitute treasure and a guide to the reporting process are available on the PAS website (https://finds.org.uk/treasure/advice/summary).”

In addition, I (and other FLOs), can also offer advice on several other aspects, including best metal-detecting practice, conservation and storage of your finds, and the potential significance of your finds locally and nationally. I can also be found hosting regular finds drop-off and handling sessions at the recently opened St Albans Museum on the first Wednesday (11am-1pm), and The Higgins Bedford Museum on the last Wednesday (1pm-3pm), of every month if you are unable to make an appointment at Verulamium Museum.

The growing public interest in archaeological finds has led the British Museum to create a new exhibition on treasure, which is touring the UK. Hoards: A Hidden History of Ancient Britain is at the Salisbury Museum and will travel to sites including the Ulster Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Buxton Museum in Derbyshire and the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull.

To find out more about the service, please visit: www.finds.org.uk