Archaeological Numismatist

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Rethinking Roman Worcester: new publication for November 2022

Hot on the heels of last month’s articles in the Worcestershire Recorder, I’m pleased to share news of a new article by me in the 2022 Transactions of the Worcestershire Archaeological Society!

Entitled ‘Coinage and conquest: numismatic evidence for a Roman military presence at Worcester’, my article reconsiders the long-debated ‘Worcester fort’ in light of nearly 3000 single finds of Roman coins from the county.

The analysis shows that Worcester has produced significantly more early Roman coins, particularly of the Claudio-Neronian and early Flavian coins, than most other parts of Worcestershire. Importantly, statistical testing demonstrates that this cannot be down to random chance. While this is intrinsically interesting in light of documented military activity in the region at this period, it becomes significantly more important when seen at the site level: the closest parallels for Worcester’s coin loss profile aren’t civilian small towns, but are actually military-turned-civilian settlements like Exeter and London.

AV aureus of Claudius, AD 51-2 (Public domain, courtesy of the American Numismatic Society)

Placed alongside the evidence of militaria, road patterns, and post-Roman place names, the numismatic results make a strong case for identifying Worcester as the site of an as-yet-undiscovered Roman fort. Quite where it might be remains unknown, but the distribution of coins and military metalwork suggest that, as at York, Worcester’s Roman fort could lie beneath a medieval cathedral.

If this sounds intriguing, why not have a look yourself? To purchase a copy of the Transactions, get in touch with the Worcestershire Archaeological Society.

For a full list of my publications to date, check out the ‘Publications’ page on this website.

Some Worcestershire treasures: new publications for October 2022

The new issue of the Worcestershire Recorder has landed through my letterbox, and features a great selection of pieces exploring the county’s fascinating archaeology and local history – including two articles by yours truly!

The first article takes a fresh look at an enigmatic gold coin found during building work in Worcester in November 1859. While the coin can no longer be traced, written sources allow us to identify it as a cruzado of Manuel I of Portugal (1495-1521). These coins were legal tender in the mid-Tudor period, but are exceptionally rare as archaeological finds, with just 20 examples recorded across all of England and Wales. The Worcester cruzado fits within the existing distribution pattern, which has a south-western skew that reflects the role of the Bristol Channel as a hub of 16th-century Anglo-Iberian trade.

The second article is co-authored with my good friend Kate Potter-Farrant, and presents the results of fieldwork by the North Worcestershire Archaeology Group (NWAG) at Furnace Farm, Shelsley Walsh, in 2017. These investigations revealed activity dating from the Roman period to the present day, including the remains of two 18th- to 20th-century labourers’ cottages and post-medieval ironworking waste. The article builds on Kate’s incredible work on the finds assemblage, undertaken as part of her degree in Archaeology and Heritage Studies at the University of Worcester, and casts new light on a site excavated by a top-tier community group.

So why not have a look? To purchase a copy of the Worcestershire Recorder, get in touch with the Worcestershire Archaeological Society.

For a full list of my publications to date, check out the ‘Publications’ page on this website.

A Civil War hoard from Hampshire: new publication for September 2022

We’re now in September, and I’m pleased to share news of another article I’ve written that’s out in the wild!

This one appears in the Autumn 2022 Newsletter of the Hampshire Field Club & Archaeological Society. It reviews the evidence for a previously unnoticed hoard of Civil War-era silver coins found at Mousehole, nr Southampton, in May 1889. The hoard is an interesting one, consisting of shillings and sixpence hidden in a leather bag or purse some time after 1638. The article explores the circumstances of its burial in the light of other Civil War hoards from Hampshire, and suggests that it represents a stash of ‘ready money’ hidden just before the outbreak of war in August 1642.

So why not have a look? To get your hands on a copy, contact the Hampshire Field Club & Archaeological Society via their website.

For a full list of my publications to date, check out the ‘Publications’ page on this website.

Roman coins from Southwark: new publication for August 2022

The latest edition of the Surrey Archaeological Collections has just been published, and features a report by me on Roman coins excavated at the Science Gallery on the Kings College London Guy’s Campus.

KCL Guy’s Campus (©FormerBBC via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Science Gallery site was excavated by Pre-Construct Archaeology Ltd in 2016-17, and the site report by Alistair Douglas contains some fantastic evidence for activity on the south bank of the Thames from prehistory to the present day. During the Roman period the site was drained and repurposed for agricultural and industrial use, but prolonged flooding left it largely abandoned between the later 4th and 13th centuries.

My section of the report focuses on the coins from the site, nearly all of which are associated with late Roman activity. They include a small hoard of seven bronze nummi hidden or lost in horticultural soil in c.367-78. This is the first Valentinianic bronze hoard to be found in London and Southwark, and one of only three known from the whole of Greater London. The hoard is a fascinating snapshot of currency in circulation on the south bank of Roman Londinium, and provides strong evidence for a continued need for small change at a time of percieved ‘urban decline’.

If any of this interests you, why not have a look? To order your copy, visit the website of the Surrey Archaeological Society

For a full list of my publications to date, check out the ‘Publications’ page on this website.

Elizabethan treasures from Surrey: new publication for July 2022

I’ve just got my hands on a copy of the February 2022 edition of Surrey’s Past, the new-look version of the Surrey Archaeological Society’s (SyAS) venerable Bulletin. This issue contains fascinating insights into the ongoing SyAS excavations at Cock’s Farm, Abinger, new thoughts on the Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Guildown, and much else inbetween, including a short note by me on the Pirbright hoard of Elizabethan silver coins.

Discovered in 1844 but long since lost, the Pirbright hoard was previously unknown to scholarship, but can be carefully reconstructed through archival research. It consisted of c.120 silver coins of Elizabeth I, and was hidden far away from prying eyes on the edge of Pirbright Common in 1567-71. The article explores the find in the context of hoards and money in Tudor Surrey, and suggests that it might represent the household savings of a prosperous yeoman farmer from the local area.

So why not have a look? You can download the article directly here, or read the entire issue via the SyAS website.

For a full list of my publications to date, check out the ‘Publications’ page on this website.

Get into the groove: two new publications for April 2022

The Spring 2022 issue of the Worcestershire Recorder has just hit the shelves, and contains a whole host of fascinating articles on archaeology and history in the county. It’s also got two little articles by me – both on radically different topics!

The first article is a co-authored piece with Richard Lloyd from the University of Worcester, and discusses our recent research into the mysterious ‘groove marks’ that cover large swathes of the church of St John in Bedwardine, Worcester. Drawing on the work of James Wright, we reject the claim that these are ‘arrow marks’ from medieval archers, and instead suggest that they reflect the removal of ‘holy dust’ for use in medieval and early modern folk remedies.

Groove marks at St John in Bedwardine (© Murray Andrews)

The second article discusses a small group of clay tobacco pipes from Astley that had been donated to the North Worcestershire Archaeology Group. The assemblage spans the 17th to 19th centuries, and offers a snapshot of the shifting market for tobacco in post-medieval and modern Worcestershire.

So why not have a look? To purchase a copy, get in touch with the Worcestershire Archaeological Society.

For a full list of my publications to date, check out the ‘Publications’ page on this website.

Roman coins from Badsey: new publication for November 2021

The postman has been busy delivering the Autumn 2021 issue of the Worcestershire Recorder, which features interesting pieces on medieval church goods at Ripple and Pershore, the impact of the American Revolutionary War on Kidderminster, and a short article by me on Roman coins from Badsey.

The article records two hitherto unnoticed 4th-century coins from the A.E. Jones collection at Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum. This is an amazing set of fieldwalking material collected in the early to mid-20th century, which I have previously discussed in an article in the 2018 Transactions of the Worcestershire Archaeological Society. The two new coins are an important addition to our understanding of Roman rural settlement in the Vale of Evesham, an important farming district in the west of Roman Britain.

So why not have a look? To purchase a copy, get in touch with the Society via their website.

For a full list of my publications to date, check out the ‘Publications’ page on this website.

Iron Age and Roman coins from Surrey: new publications!

New month, new publications!

The latest edition of the Surrey Archaeological Collections has just hit the shelves, and contains two offerings by me on excavation coins from the county.

The first is a publication of 55 Iron Age and Roman coins found during PCA excavations at the Nescot Site, Ewell, in 2015. Investigations at the site revealed an important Roman quarry complex on the edge of Stane Street, and provide significant new evidence for life and landscape in the southern hinterland of Roman Londinium.

The second is a short note on four Roman and post-medieval coins from PCA excavations at Staines High Street in 2017. This site was low-lying marginal land on the edge of a floodplain, and the coins help us date attempts to bring it into agricultural use during the Roman period.

Why not have a read? To purchase a copy, get in touch with the Society via their website.

For a full list of my publications to date, check out the ‘Publications’ page on this website.

Cash in the attic: new publication for May 2021

New article alert!

The Cercle d’Études Numismatiques have just published the 2020 volume of the Journal of Archaeological Numismatics (JAN). This year’s offering is a special issue on the ‘Archaeology of Monetary Deposits’, and has a fantastic selection of papers on coin hoards across space and time: from Ireland to Italy, and from antiquity to World War 2!

My article explores late medieval coin hoarding in domestic contexts, using Britain and Ireland as a case study. Taking in evidence from nearly 200 hoards, the article uses a range of statistical techniques to explore how and why medieval hoarders hid their money at home. Like all JAN articles, it’s lavishly illustrated with colour maps and graphs – and, as an added bonus, there is a full gazetteer providing a point-of-entry to the hoards themselves.

So why not have a read? To purchase a copy, get in touch with the editor via the CEN website.

For a full list of my publications to date, check out the ‘Publications’ page on this website.

Looking back, looking forward: 2020 in focus

It’s fair to say that 2020 has been a difficult and unusual year for the heritage sector. In the face of an ongoing pandemic, we’ve all had to find new ways of delivering high-quality work while remaining safe and healthy. Fortunately, heritage professionals are an adaptable and resilient bunch, and much work has continued under new conditions. Unfortunately, however, some activities and projects have had to be postponed until conditions improve.

In times like these, it’s important to celebrate the successes we make. So, in this spirit, I want to take a few minutes to reflect on this year’s achievements, and to look forward to new prospects in 2021.

roman republican coin
Janus Bifrons on a Republican as: one head looks back, the other looks forward.
Celebrating achievements in 2020

During 2020 I have worked on some fascinating projects with a range of professional clients and partners. Much of this work has involved the identification and analysis of coins found during development-led archaeological fieldwork: everything from Roman coins from East Yorkshire, to 18th-century tokens from Greater London. For other projects, however, I have turned my attention to material in museum collections. In December, for example, I started working on a new project with Museums Worcestershire, unlocking stories of empire and slavery hidden within their numismatic collections. It has been a great privilege to work on such a diverse body of material from all over!

Archaeology and numismatics both depend on a regular supply of new information and knowledge. For this reason, I’m pleased to have produced a number of new research publications in 2020. Among other things, these have included studies of antiquarian coin finds from London, Shropshire, and Worcestershire, significant new excavation coins from Saxon Lundenwic, and a round-up of recent medieval and post-medieval coin hoards reported through the Treasure Act 1996. Back in September I also had the pleasure of sharing some of my research into coin hoards with the wider public, making a video presentation for the online Festival of Coins.

Finally, I was deeply honoured to receive the British Numismatic Society’s Blunt Prize, in recognition of my ‘considerable output, energy and commitment to British numismatics’. Many thanks to the Society for this wonderful accolade.

What’s coming in 2021?

I look forward to sharing some exciting new work in 2021. On the publication front, I have some important articles and book chapters in the pipeline: these include an extended study of coin hoards from medieval settlements, which will soon appear in the Journal of Archaeological Numismatics, plus a review of some forgotten Tudor gold hoards for the next British Numismatic Journal. On top of these, I have several reports on excavation coins due out over the next 12 months. Plenty of stuff to wet your numismatic whistle – do check the ‘News‘ page for further details.

For those of you of a West Midlands bent, I also have some speaking engagements lined up. On 8 February I will be presenting a lecture to the Worcestershire Archaeological Society, exploring the contribution of coin finds to the study of Roman military activity. Not long after, I’ll be giving a bite-size talk at Worcester City Museum and Art Gallery on the rise and fall of  Atlantic slavery, as seen through coins, tokens, and medals in their collection. Given the current circumstances, both will be virtual presentations streamed online. More details will be circulated closer to the time.

As ever, I look forward to providing high-quality, cost-effective archaeological and numismatic services for interested clients. In 2020 I have completed projects for a range of commercial units, community groups, and museums, and I am excited to continue this work in 2021. So, if you have any project enquiries – small or large, near or far – be sure to get in touch

Many thanks to all the clients, colleagues, and friends that I’ve worked with during this unusual year, and best wishes to all for a happy 2021!

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