Detectorist couple's Roman busts, medieval tags, brooches and bowls to be revealed

By Ben Miller | 10 November 2014

Headdress-wearing bust of religious Roman and medieval tag with link to John the Baptist revealed in Salisbury

A photo of a green statue of an ancient woman
A Roman bust of Maenad from the Wessex Gallery of Archaeology in Salisbury© Wessex Gallery of Archaeology
In the Deverill valley, near the west Wiltshire town of Warminster, a husband and wife detecting team have spent nearly 30 years unearthing 2,000 years of history.

One of their star turns is a superbly-modelled, cast Roman bust of a Meanad – a female follower of the god Bacchus, adorned with a plaited vine and ivy wreath headdress. An early medieval hooked tag, meanwhile, bears the imprint of an eagle stretching its wings and talons, perhaps made in a copper alloy symbol for John the Baptist.

A photo of a dark green medieval tag
An early medieval hooked tag shows an eagle stretching its wings and talons© Wessex Gallery of Archaeology
“The lenders for this case have been working closely with the Portable Antiquities Scheme and the museum for a long time,” says Richard Henry, the Finds Liaison Officer for the county, looking ahead to the display of a special case at Salisbury Museum highlighting some of the pair’s discoveries.

“We are really happy to have the chance to display their finds.

“There is also a Ewart Park Phase sword, which is particularly interesting as the hilt was broken during the late Bronze Age.

“Roughly 10 centimeters of the blade was hammered flat to create a makeshift hilt so that the sword could continue being used.”

A glorious gilded early medieval cloisonné brooch is emblazoned with a trifoliate leaf motif. A fragment of a Bronze Age spear and a late Roman bowl are the last two donated pieces. And among four further finds, a pointed oval seal matrix from the 14th century was donated by a finder who struck lucky while gardening in Laverstock, coming across the depiction of the Virgin and Child in front of an elaborate altar.

  • On display at the museum from November 18 2014 – February 28 2015.

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A photo of an ancient dark green archaeological brooch
A gilded early medieval cloisonné brooch with a trifoliate leaf motif© Wessex Gallery of Archaeology
A photo of a dark green and yellow piece of stone archaeological material
Curators describe the brooch as glorious© Wessex Gallery of Archaeology
A photo of a dark green statue of a roman god
The maenad is a female follower of the god Bacchus with a plaited vine and ivy wreath head-dress© Wessex Gallery of Archaeology
A photo of two oval-shaped archaeological artefacts
A pointed oval seal matrix comes from the sub deanery of Salisbury© Wessex Gallery of Archaeology
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