PAS: Top 10 Finds

PAS: Top 10 Finds

In July 2020, the Portable Antiquities Scheme announced that it had recorded over 1.5 million items since it began 23 years earlier. To mark that milestone, the BBC History Magazine asked the PAS to “nominate 10 discoveries that they believe have done most to transform our knowledge of the past

I have summarised that list below to demonstrate the enormous contribution that detectorist have made. You will see that of the 9 individual finds, 8 of them were found by metal detecting. All of these are now on public display or being studied at the British Museum. Without the work of detectorists, it is probable that none of these would ever have been seen.

Also, as demonstrated by the first item, if left in the ground, significant damage can be caused by plough action.

It is thanks to the open nature of the PAS database and in particular the facility to share its images, that enable these any other finds to be widely seen.

1. Ringlemere Cup

Photo: PAS, CC by 2.0

Detecting Find

Found by detectorist Cliff Bradshaw on 4 November 2001 near Sandwich, Kent.

Importance

Its demonstartes the metalworking expertise that existed in Bronze Age Britain. Its rounded bottom suggests a communal ritual use.

Public Display

It has been on a tour of several museums and is currently on display at the British Museum

2. 320,000 roman coins

The PAS database has 320,000 Roman coins recorded – the largest dataset in the world.

The vast majority of these were found and reported by detectorists.

3. Chalgrove Hoard

Photo: PAS, CC by 2.0

Detecting Find

Found by detectorist Brian Marlin in 2003 near Chalgrove, Oxfordshire.

Importance

On one of the coins was the Roman emperor, Domitianus and until the find, many historians didn’t believe he existed.

On Display

The coin is on display at the Ashmolean Museum.

4. Staffordshire Moorlands Pan

Photo: PAS, CC by 2.0

Detecting Find

Found by a detectorist in Ilam in the Peak District in June 2003

Importance

A Roman enamel-decorated pan that was made as a souvenir of time served at Hadrian’s wall by a Roman named Draco.

On Display

It is on rotational display at Tullie House Museum, Potteries museum and the British Museum.

5. Staffordshire Hoard

David Rowan, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, CC BY 2.0

Detecting Find

Found by detectorist Terry Herbert, a member of Bloxwich Research and Metal Detecting Club, on 5 July 2009, near Hammerwitch, Staffordshire.

Importance

It demonstrated the craftmanship of early Anglo-Saxon art and sparked public interest in that period of history.

On Display

The hoard has been on display at numerous museums including the British Museum and the Royal Armouries in Leeds. 

 

6. Watlington Hoard

Photo: PAS, CC by 2.0

Detecting Find

Found by detectorist James Mather in 2015 in Watlington, Oxfordshire.

Importance

The coins found depicted Alfred the Great and Ceolwulf II together below and angel. This indicates a strategic and economic alliance between the two kings, which caused previous historical views to be rethought.

On Display

The hoard is on display at the Ashmolean Museum.

7, Chew Valley Hoard

Chew Valley Hoard
Photo: Pippa Pearce, copyright Trustees of the British Museum

Detecting Find

Found by a small group of detectorists in January 2019 in the Chew Valley, Somerset.

Importance

The 2,581 silver pennies found are a mixture of Harold II and William I, including some mules from both kings. They provide a valuable insight into the transition from Anglo-Saxon to Norman rule.

On Display

The coins are being examined by the British Museum and may be acquired for display at the Roman Baths in Bath.

8, Vale of York Hoard

Vale of York Hoard
Photo: PAS, CC by 2.0

Detecting Find

Found by David Whelan (from Leeds) on 6 January 2007 near Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Importance

The contents of the hoard are from around the world. It demonstrates how widely the Vikings accumulated their wealth, either through trade or thieving.

 On Display

As well as being on display at Yorkshire Museum in has been on tours of museums in this country and abroad, including Copenhagen and Berlin.

 

9, Pilgrim badge depicting killing of Thomas Becket

medieval pilgrim badge
Photo: PAS, CC by 2.0

Mudlarking

Found by mudlarker Tony Thira in 2016/

Importance

Reveals the depth of devotion to the cult of Thomas Becket

On Display

 

 

 

10, Bosworth Boar Badge

Boar Badge of Richard III
Photo: PAS, CC by 2.0

Detecting Find

Found during a metal-detecting survey of the site of the Battle of Bosworth.

Importance

Along with other evidence it moved the probable site of the Battle of Bosworth some 3km from where it had been previously thought to be.

On Display

On display at the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Museum

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