ELHAS Meeting Report March 2008

Last night twenty seven members of ELHAS were treated to an exciting slide presentation by Amy Cooper, Finds Liaison Officer with the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Amy, who hails from Somerset, came to York to study archaeology and just stayed. As she says "York has that effect on people." She has been in post as the Finds Liaison Officer for West and South Yorkshire for 18 months and previously worked at the Yorkshire Museum and Malton Museum. She is one of 36 countrywide Finds Liaison Officers.

Amy began her talk by explaining the work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and her role within it. The PAS was set up 10 years ago to offer assistance to members of the general public who find artefacts that may be classed as 'Treasure'. She firstly explained the criteria for treasure, in general objects made of precious metal more than 300 years old and then advised of the legal requirements to be followed after finding such objects. However she told us that the easiest way to manage this would be to contact the local Finds Liaison Officer who will deal with everything. The role of the FLO is to identify, weigh, measure and record the details of all finds submitted to them and then to ensure that all the legal requirements are met. There are currently details of 323,694 objects recorded on their database, 1, 850 having been posted since January this year.

Amy then went on to detail the most significant find she has dealt with in her career - 'The Harrogate Hoard' .In fact she described it as a once in a life time experience and said she did not expect to deal with such a find again. In January 2007 two local Leeds metal detector enthusiasts were plying their trade in Harrogate when they discovered four coins which they immediately recognised as Anglo Saxon pennies. Further excavation unearthed silver jewellery and ingots subsequently identified as Viking and a complete gilded bowl packed with other objects. Fortunately, Andrew and Dave knew exactly what to do and took the finds to the local FLO, Amy. Describing her excitement at seeing these objects in her office, Amy's enthusiasm was transmitted to her audience who listened spellbound as she explained what was eventually found in the bowl and showed pictures of the coins and jewellery. The bowl contained a total of 617 coins and artefacts from Britain, Europe, Scandinavia and Afghanistan. Amy's first job was to take the finds to the British Museum by car since they were regarded as too precious to be entrusted to a journey by public transport. The experts at the BM were astonished to discover that the bowl is a twin to one unearthed 150 years ago in Lancashire and named 'The Halton Moor Hoard'. The significance of these finds cannot be too highly emphasised since they have allowed experts to accurately date other finds previously thought to be 11th century to the 10th century because the examples in this bowl were alongside coins of that date. The fact that the coins came from a variety of mints situated across the country signifies that trade and commerce was carried on between the Anglo Saxon south and the Viking north even though the Danelaw divided the two regions. Amy concluded her talk by explaining that when all the finds have been correctly identified and their market value established they will be offered to interested museums. Since the value is expected to be in the region of £1,000,000 funds will have to be raised in order to allow the museums to purchase the finds. The proceeds will go to the finders and the landowner.