Festival of Archaeology 2014: An Iron Age comb, medieval matrix and Bronze Age vessel

By Ben Miller | 14 July 2014

Angie Bolton, the Finds Liaison Officer for Worcestershire, on ice-cream tubs, sherds and weaves

A photo of an old comb
© Portable Antiquities Scheme
An Iron Age comb found in Warwickshire

“Choosing my favourite finds I've recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme is tricky. I've been a Finds Liaison Officer right from the start of the pilot scheme in 1997, so there is a lot to choose from.

This is an Iron Age comb which was brought to me at a Finds Day. The finder, who'd I'd not met before, brought in eight ice-cream tubs full of finds and this was amongst them.

The reason I like it was at the time it was the first one known in England, although some were known on the continent.

It is beautiful to look at with the basket-weave decoration and has a practical function.

Many people believe it is comb for personal use, whereas I think it may be a curry comb for horses.

One reason I think this is that in the West Midlands the Iron Age material we have recorded is predominately vehicle and cart-orientated, such as pin terminals and harness mounts, rather than personal items such as brooches, which are more common elsewhere.

Also, the wide tines are perhaps suggestive of combing more coarse hair than that of a person.”

A photo of a small silver ancient artefact
© Portable Antiquities Scheme
A medieval seal matrix found in Warwickshire

“This is a silver seal matrix recently declared through the 1996 Treasure Act.

The magic of this seal is that Clive Cheeseman (College of Arms) and I have been able to trace who the seal belonged to: Robert Lee or Leigh of Billesley Manor between around 1605 and 1638.

It is not often you get a name of who an object belonged to and some personal background information.

And what makes this case extra special is the finder and landowner kindly donated the matrix to the Warwickshire Museum.”

A photo of three brown archaeological clay discoveries
© Portable Antiquities Scheme
A Bronze Age vessel found in Warwickshire

“One of the hundreds of late Bronze Age to Iron Age sherds which have come off a site in south Warwickshire.

These sherds are not the most glamorous finds: they'll not make the front page of a paper, but they are wonderful in many ways.

Firstly, the fact they have survived all this time in the ploughsoil is impressive, because the finder meticulously gives a 12-figure grid reference for every sherd, and on this basis the sherds have been a springboard for further research.

With a grant from the PAS and Archaeophysica, we were able to carry out geophysics on the site to reveal a completely hidden landscape.

This was followed by an excavation with volunteers from the University of Cardiff and Warwickshire Archaeology.

It is very difficult to pick favourite finds, but one of the best aspects of being an Officer is recording the finds so they do become a springboard for future research. I only wish I had more time to do more research.”


What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of an old brown clay archaeological artefact
Another view of the Bronze Age vessel© Portable Antiquities Scheme
A photo of a silver coin with a decoration inside it
The matrix is a pyramid type with an oval base© Portable Antiquities Scheme
A photo of an ancient silver coin
The arms were granted to their creators in 1593© Portable Antiquities Scheme
More from Culture24's Festival of Archaeology coverage:

Julian Watters on pickaxes, brooches, dogs and Roman cups

Roman gold, sceptre heads and Saxon sites: Archaeologist reveals Lincolnshire's best finds
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