Talk: Amazing Artefacts from the North West

Valentine’s Day saw Alex Whitlock a Find Liason Officer from the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and also Chair of PAG, come to talk to the Friends about the artefacts found by the general public.

The PAS records all non treasure items  that have been found anywhere in homes, sheds, gardens, fields, river banks, sea shore etc by anyone onto a database.  Finds are recorded so that our culture and history doesn’t disappear, in fact, items found may challenge pre conceived ideas and orthodox thinking and change our island story of the history of an area or the ideas we have about the people who lived here before us.

The timeline for the artefacts started in the Neolithic era,  and ranged through Early Bronze Age, Roman, Romano-British, early and late mediaeval periods, Carolingian, Tudor, Victorian and later.   All were from the North West region.

Materials range from aluminium pit tokens to lithics, ceramics, silver, copper alloy,

Uses were both practical and decorative.  From flint thumbnail scraper for scraping hides, dagger,tankard handle Financial use – a Roman silver denarius of Geta, AD 200-202. A plate brooch perhaps to use to fasten a cloak or as a demonstration of prestige.  A beautiful early mediaeval Carolingian style silver plated mount.  Possibly from a scabbard or casket.

Post mediaeval lead alloy weight. Dome shaped. Showing clear shape of a thumb and imprint of finger nail. Attribution: PAS, British Museum.

Lead alloy weights from the 10C found in Wales. A Mediaeval lead alloy Papal Bulla of Pope Lucius 111. Copper key, spoon handle – mediaeval. Most interesting and poignant was a probable weight cast in a mould by the print of someone’s thumb. The imprint of the finger nail could be clearly seen.   Finds local to us were tokens from the colliery workers at Towneley Colliery.

Someone brought in a find. Alex was shown a smooth, hollowed out stone from Wycoller Beck. But it turned out to be just that, a stone shaped by centuries of water movement.


A puzzle still waiting to be answered was the possible Roman/Early mediaeval copper alloy fragment. Is this from a buckle? Can anyone help the professionals to identify this object.

Unknown, but possibly Roman or Mediaeval copper alloy buckle. c43 to 1066AD. Courtesy of PAS. British Museums Service.

If you have an empty afternoon or evening in front of you then delve into the PAS website You are in for a treat of untold ‘riches’ although not all of them worth money.   Its so easy to find you have been examining artefacts for hours.

Banner Image: Romano British copper alloy tankard handle. AD 70-140. Courtesy of PAS, British Museum Service. (A Whitlock).