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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bid to Return Druid Treasure to Anglesey

ANCIENT artefacts, more than 2,000 years old, should be brought back to Anglesey claims an island politician.

A large hoard of Iron Age materials were discovered in Llyn Cerrig Bach, Llanfair-yn-Neubwll, in 1942.

The items are currently kept in Cardiff, but local councillor Gwilym O Jones believes the treasure troves should brought back and displayed at Llangefni's Oriel Môn.

And the council agrees, explaining they are currently in talks on that very subject.

Cllr Jones said: "Many on Anglesey know the tale of how they were found during the extension of RAF Valley.

"I understand why the treasures were taken down to the National Museum in Cardiff.

"At the time there was nowhere secure enough on Anglesey to keep them.

"But that has changed in recent years.

"Oriel Môn was built under Government Indemnity Scheme conditions which means that it's purpose built to keep precious artefacts secure.

"We've seen programmes on television and recordings made of the island's druidic history in the last couple of years, so I feel that now is the time to campaign to bring the treasures back.

"I'm not talking about bringing them back permanently, but I feel they should here for part of the year, say through the summer months.

"I think many people would be interested in seeing them."

"It would be of benefit to Oriel Môn to have them, as a lot of people aren't fans of art but might like to see part of the island's heritage."

Chariots, weapons, tools and decorated metalwork items were cast from a causeway or island into Llyn Cerrig Bach between 300BC and AD100.

They were discovered in 1942 by William Roberts as the airfield was being extended to accommodate the US air force bomber, The Flying Fortress.

The site was investigated by Sir Cyril Fox, the then keeper of archaeology at the National Museum of Wales in 1946.

Llyn Cerrig Bach is of especial interest in its possible association with the druids.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Export ban on rare Celtic mirror

A rare Iron Age Celtic mirror and two brooches have been made the subject of a temporary export ban in a bid to keep the items in the UK.

The 19cm high copper-alloy mirror, which is engraved and has a looped handle, dates back to about 75BC.

It was discovered in a shallow cremation grave at Chilham Castle, Kent, in 1993, along with two brooches.

Culture Minister Barbara Follett has placed a ban on the items leaving the UK. The ban will be reviewed in May.

The ruling follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).

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Treasure hunter's Iron Age find

An amateur treasure hunter unearthed two Iron Age bronze bowls and a wine strainer just months after taking up metal detecting, an inquest has heard.

The rare artefacts, of "great importance for the UK," were found in Newport, south Wales, in December 2007.

It is believed the objects dating from around AD 25 were a religious offering.

The Gwent Coroner declared them treasure trove. Security guard Craig Mills, who found the bowls, said he did not "have a clue" how old they were".

The 35-year-old came across the items in the Langstone area of the city, only nine months after he took up metal detecting.

Mr Mills said: "I didn't realise how significant it was.


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Iron Age Gold Unearthed in Suffolk Field

From: World Coin News

In spring 2008 a hoard of 783 ancient British gold coins was discovered by a metal detectorist near the village of Wickham Market in southeast Suffolk, England. It is one of the largest hoards of Iron Age gold coins ever found in Britain and is one of the most important because it was unearthed virtually in situ, where it was buried 2,000 years ago in an earthenware pot.

A small-scale excavation of the hoard site, jointly funded by the British Museum and Suffolk County Council, was conducted last Oct. 14-15. The two-day dig revealed that the hoard had been deposited within a ditched enclosure of late Iron Age date and produced 42 more gold coins, bringing the total to 825. Two intersecting ditches were partially excavated; the shards of wheel-thrown pottery found in them suggest one was open in the late Iron Age and the other was dug and filled in later during the Roman period.

All but two of the 825 gold coins were minted in East Anglia by the Iceni, Queen Boudica's tribe. The two "foreigners" came from Lincolnshire. Five of the gold coins - the earliest in the hoard - were made about 40-30 B.C. They are known as Snettisham Type after a hoard excavated at Snettisham, Norfolk, in 1987-1989. The vast bulk of the Wickham Market hoard - 818 coins - are all Freckenham Type gold staters, named after the 90 or more found in a pot in a garden at Freckenham, Suffolk, in 1885. They were minted over a period of two or three decades, probably sometime around 20 B.C.-15 A.D., perhaps by two or three different rulers of the Iceni who may have governed concurrently.

John Talbot, a specialist in the Iron Age coinage of East Anglia - he is also chairman of the English National Ballet and managing director of Johnson Cleaners - visited the excavation and believes that the Wickham Market hoard may have been buried sometime around 15 A.D. or shortly afterward. During the past nine years, Talbot has made a detailed die study of more than 9,000 coins of the Iceni and is regarded as the foremost expert in this field. His deposition date of approximately 15 A.D. therefore carries some weight - a welcome bonus for Suffolk archaeologists who are accustomed to working with much broader chronologies in the Iron Age.

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Why do we have history and archaeology? In the light of our understanding of ‘deep time’ Daniel Lord Smail argues that it is high time that the two di

Though obscure in other respects, 1936 was an important year for the philosophy of the human past. This was the year in which the Australian archaeologist V. Gordon Childe published Man Makes Himself, a book that became one of the most widely read works of archaeology ever published. In the same year, R.G. Collingwood, the Oxford don, sat down to pen 36 lectures later published as The Idea of History, a landmark in historiography.

There is nothing to suggest that Collingwood read Man Makes Himself while writing his lectures, though we know that Childe, in later years, read Collingwood. The books themselves could not be more different in form, in substance and in their intended audience. Yet both authors, in their very different ways, had things to say about the curious fragmentation that afflicts the science of the human past. For, when you come to think of it, why do we have history and archaeology? This was not a question that motivated either Childe or Collingwood. But today, more than 70 years on, it is a question that is causing more and more people to scratch their heads. With enough scratching the answer becomes clear: there is no logical way to defend any division of human history. It is high time to reunite archaeology and history.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Antiques, Antiquities or Artifacts: Does it really matter?


There are a number of terms used to describe objects from the past – Some of them are used very loosely or perhaps even erroneously, as a result of pure ignorance or to deliberately mislead others. It is imperative, therefore, to glean a general understanding of what some of the terms denote. Although it is somewhat difficult to isolate specific definitions due to dissimilarities between various countries and organizations, I have nevertheless attempted to provide some pertinent guidance below as a starting point:


An antique is an old collectible item. Although the exact definition can vary from source to source, generally an antique is an object that is at least 50 to 100 years old. In the United States, customs law reserves the term for objects that are 100 years old or more. The price of an antique is determined according to its craftsmanship, authenticity, aesthetic appeal, age, rarity and condition. Antiques can include a variety of items ranging from furniture to decorative arts. Comparable items that are not particularly old are often referred to as vintage.


The term antiquities (generally used in the plural) often refers to the remains of art work and everyday items from the distant or ancient past, although the cut-off date is not always precise and may differ considerably between various institutions. Some organizations may suggest an arbitrary date for ease of reference, but an important differentiation is that most antiquities are ancient and are discovered as a result of archaeology. Antiquities can come from various parts of the globe, including the Classical cultures of Greece and Rome, ancient Egypt, the ancient Near Eastern civilizations, the Orient and, of course, the Iron Age Celtic World (The Iron Age Celts spanned a period from the fifth century B.C. to the first century A.D.). Antiquities may include items such as buildings and works of art and even smaller objects, often referred to as portable antiquities. Portable finds, such as coins or jewellery, are frequently discovered by metal-detector users, people gardening or those merely out walking. Due to various legal restrictions in many countries about what can and can’t be collected, it is important to report finds accordingly, so that provenance and heritage will not be lost forever. For example, in England and Wales finds of “Treasure” must be reported to a coroner for the district within 14 days (Refer to The Portable Antiquities Scheme at: http://www.finds.org.uk/treasure/treasure_summary.php for further information).


Due to the imprecision of dates assigned to the term antiquities, most academic institutions no longer use it, but instead refer to those objects that have been made, used or modified by humans as artifacts (or artefacts -UK). For the purpose of this blog, however, I have chosen the term antiquities in order to meld with both collectors and dealers who generally utilize this term, as well as the academic world who understands what it means.


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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What is Archaeology?


Archaeology involves the scientific study of past human culture, technology and behaviour, through the material objects (artifacts) that were left behind, and the physical remains of the natural environment in which they were connected (faunal and floral remains, soils, and so on). Such remains provide clues about when a site was occupied and the way people were living (for instance, about social organization and cultural change). In the Old World, archaeology often relates to the group of techniques and theories used in obtaining such information. Although written records may sometimes help, the Iron Age Celts left few, leaving us to rely on the literary evidence provided for them from the classical world. Archaeology can thus be used to study the prehistoric past, prior to when written evidence begins, as well as during the historic part of history to support written documents. Archaeology is thus a multicultural discipline, which encourages respect for past and present human populations, and is a means of conserving our shared human heritage by providing individuals with viewpoints about their own links with the past.


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Please feel free to comment on the above post – Any questions or suggestions are welcome!