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Archaeological Finds in Worcestershire

The meeting in February was entitled 'Archaeological Finds in Worcestershire'. The speaker was Richard Henry who is a liaison officer based in the county (www.worcestershire.gov.uk/archaeology). He reported that there have been some prehistoric finds in the form of axe heads and later artefacts dating from the 'Iron Age' in Worcestershire.

Roman coins have also been found, particularly from the time of Emperor Probus (244-282 AD) who lifted restrictions on grain and wine growing to boost local economies and commerce. Burying hordes of coins has often been associated with times of strife such as the Civil War and the Viking and Norman conquests. However, hordes buried between 50-350AD are unusual in that this is known to have been a time of prosperity. Many of the coins found were buried 2 generations after the coins were minted and, based on a soldier's pay it has been estimated that one horde represented eleven weeks pay - so not a fortune. Although a number of coins have been found in Worcestershire, many more have been found south of the county. Around 3000 have been sorted and identified at the British Museum. Some do not have a mint mark and, as the numbers being made were enormous, many coins show evidence of mistakes in the design.

Findings from Early Medieval times include part of a stirrup, an Anglo-Saxon penny dating from the time of Ethelred the Unready and an annular brooch made of copper alloy from 1200-1400AD. There are also items associated with pilgrims such as lead ampulla designed to hold holy oil which can be traced to where they were made. Post Medieval findings include coins from the Civil War, usually found by metal detectorists although 2 coins, issued in the Napoleonic War, were found in mortar in the tower of Ombersley church, obviously placed there by masons working on the tower. A miniature toy cannon was found near Kidderminster and, although it could be fired, its purpose is unclear.

Important finds are still being made such as the Saxon Horde which is the subject of the Annual Lecture this year. More information can be found at the website above and at www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/24/contents which provides a definition of 'treasure'.

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