Go with the FLO

Another busy and varied week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, (CHAC) near Yeovil.

The week started with a visit from two researchers writing an article under the general heading of “Political Somerset.” A quick search of our database revealed several intriguing possibilities, including the 1831 Riot Jugs. The jugs were presented to individual members of the Mudford Troop of Yeomanry for quelling the riot of 1831 in Yeovil linked to political reform and increased voting entitlement. We also found a selection of Yeovil political posters around 1850, around the time Yeovil wished to become a Municipal Borough with an elected Mayor. One of the star finds (we were informed) was a photograph of Yeovil Member of Parliament, Aubrey Herbert and one of his speeches. Helpfully, the Object History File (OHF) contained a print out of his life and a typed transcript of the speech. Interestingly, Aubrey Herbert of Dulverton was standing as Conservative candidate for the Yeovil ward. He was elected and remained Yeovil’s MP until his death in 1923. He was the son of the Earl of Carnarvon and father in law of Evelyn Waugh, half brother to the Earl of Carnarvon who discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb and the basis for the hero of the book, The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan.

On Tuesday evening, we were present once more at The Moose Hall, St. Michael’s Avenue, Yeovil for a talk to the Gentleman’s side of the Moose. We spoke last week to the Ladies side! We spoke under the theme ‘Memorials; Meanings and Memories’ examining Yeovil’s War Memorials and the links to local industries like gloving and Petters; some of the men named on the War Memorial that worked for these companies and the role of ladies in the ammunition factories and aircraft industry.

One of the highlights this week was a visit by the Somerset and Dorset Finds Liaison Officers (or FLO’s). Under the National Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) there is a FLO for each County in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Anyone who finds archaeological material can take it to their FLO for identification. We established a quarterly finds afternoon at CHAC for local finders to meet the Finds liaison Officers, as a mid way point between the local community and the Somerset Officers base in Taunton. This has worked very well for CHAC staff by increasing the number of visitors and interest in (and knowledge of) our collections and for the Finds Liaison Officers as they can meet in a comfortable environment and have 20 minute slots with each finder. We can also arrange to return previously identified material to local people on behalf of the FLO’s.

The other fascinating angle is to see the varied nature of finds brought in for identification and sharing the specialised knowledge of the Finds Officers during the ‘id’ process. The key element is ‘responsible collecting’ – actual reporting of finds so everyone potentially can see what is found and where, in a certain area of the Country.  One example this week was a Medieval pan weight. This is unusual because of the intricate design on the front and the weight. Normally (we were informed!) standard pan or scale weights of this period weigh 250 grams, whereas this example weighed 400 grams!

Another intriguing day expected today as we welcome around 6 visitors for our Photo Afternoon, held twice a month and a tour for a local history group on Friday, but as they say – “Go with the FLO.”

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Medieval pan weight brought into our Finds Afternoon this week (should have a scale with – apologies!)  This is unusual because of the intricate design on the front and the weight. Normally standard pan or scale weights of this period weigh 250 grams, whereas this example weighed 400 grams!

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