Learning About Finds

Many of the volunteers from Celts and Romans in North Wiltshire have asked for an opportunity to learn more about the artefacts that they have been working with.  So we organised an Artefact Identification Workshop for Thursday the 3rd of March in order to give them an opportunity to do just that. The workshop was hosted by the Wiltshire Heritage Museum, who put us up in their lovely lecture hall, lined with a collection of old books. (Some of the volunteers were just as fascinated with these shelves of old books as they were with the artefacts). Katie Hinds and Richard Henry from the Portable Antiquities Scheme and Lorraine Mepham from Wessex Archaeology presented our volunteers with a wealth of information and a chance to look at some fantastic objects.

108 Katie Hinds speaking to volunteers about Iron Age and Roman metal objects

Katie Hinds spoke to the volunteers about a plethora of different Iron Age and Roman metal objects. The volunteers went away from her talk with information on bracelets, finger rings, metal weights and a number of other useful and decorative items. Richard Henry spoke about Roman coins and how to recognise different types. The number of little clues that a coin may have to tell you when and where it was made is absolutely astonishing. The headgear of the person on the coin, the legend, and the mint mark are only some of the little details that contain all this wonderful information.

109 Two volunteers from the Chiseldon Local History Group working hard to decipher the information on their coins

Working with books and guides - and with tea and coffee to sustain them - the volunteers had the opportunity to try their hands at identifying a selection of coins. The task seemed a bit daunting given all of the information they had just learned. The coins are small, faded and most of the time difficult to read. Despite the challenges, however, our volunteers got on fabulously. The trick to identifying a coin is, as Richard told the volunteers, to write down what you can see first, and then to try to identify the type of coin it is.

110 Lorraine Mepham speaking on Iron
Age and Roman Pottery

After a lunch break Lorraine Mepham talked to the volunteers about Iron Age and Roman pottery. She went through all of the different types of information that a pot can give us, about how it was made, where it came from, and sometimes even what was stored in it. Afterwards the volunteers had the opportunity to go through a fabulous array of pottery set out on the back tables. The volunteers handled the objects, and got to feel the differences in the various types of pottery. Lorraine answered questions about the items, and even quickly identified small collections of pottery that volunteers had brought with them from their own explorations.
 
The workshop was a great success, with everyone going away having learned something new. Thank you to the Wiltshire Heritage Museum for the use of their space, Katie Hinds, Richard Henry and Lorraine Mepham for making it such an interesting session.
 
If you’re interested in learning more about Iron Age and Roman objects here are some online resources that can help:

111 Having a chat about some beautiful pieces of Iron Age and Roman pottery

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