Tag Archives: archaeology

A Creative Find

We have enjoyed a busy and rewarding week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, (CHAC) near Yeovil.

One of the highlights this week was helping to ‘ethically transfer’ a selection of archaeological material to Ham Hill Country Park.

The assortment of scrapers and Samian ware was originally brought in together with some plans of Hendford Manor and staff were informed that if the items were not wanted they could be disposed of.

‘Disposal’ can be quite a broad term and does not simply mean ‘throw away’ or ‘recycle’ although due to condition, this can be the case. Staff initially thought educational use for community talks or activities. However, upon closer inspection, many of the finds were in envelopes marked in pen with “Ham Hill” or “Chiselborough.”

Therefore, the considered option was to return the 10 envelopes to Ham Hill straight away.

Before this was completed, the finds were shown to the Somerset Finds Liaison Officer (FLO). They had asked to see them, just in case any were worth recording on the national finds database, as part of the Portable Antiquities Scheme. This is important, as the finds could have been transferred straight to Ham Hill, where indeed (according to the envelopes) many of them came from in the first place. The items would then have a key role in educational activities and community engagement projects. However, any significant details about the items; what they are made of; where they are from and perhaps most importantly, how old they are, could become lost if the items were not checked over first. Certainly, CHAC and Ham Hill Staff would only have some knowledge of the items, whereas the FLO could provide much more detailed information.

Therefore, together with the named locations on the envelopes, where possible, the Somerset FLO recorded the key items. Often this could not be completed as ‘Barrow’ was too vague, but ‘Northern Spur Ham Hill’ could be connected to an Ordnance Survey Map grid reference.

At the end of this process, items like a flint scraper, were recorded, photographed and recognised for the key items they are and the information made available to be viewed on a worldwide basis via digital sources. The Finds Officers also aim to have printed reports on the key, recorded items made available and these would be ideal for educational purposes at Ham Hill; especially to help staff keep track of these items with the aid of the photographs, but also to highlight the key features of each item.

Staff from CHAC visited Ham Hill this Thursday with the archaeological items and because of the FLO reports, had a much greater awareness of what was being transferred. Ham Hill Staff were pleased to receive these items and are already planning a visual display with the finds in plastic ID bags provided by CHAC.

Items from the CHAC Handling Collection with a Roman or quarrying theme were also loaned for a display.



One of our recently scanned images, showing Yeovil Town Station, believed to be mid 1960s.


Scraping Home

We have enjoyed a busy and productive week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

So far this week, we are fulfilling the ‘Community’ part of our name. We have helped Ham Hill Visitor Centre with a selection of handling objects for a new display on Romans and Quarrying; we have met with a representative from Yeovil District Hospital interested in our loans box service for schools and how this can be used for reminiscence sessions with patients and we agreed a date for our next group of Yeovil College Degree Level Students to start in November 2016 to see how we can help with their English and History Courses.

We also held our autumn 2016 Archaeological Finds Afternoon with the Somerset Finds Liaison Officer (FLO).

The Somerset FLO is based in Taunton but has a number of ‘finders’ across Somerset. A busy timetable means it is difficult seeing everyone, particularly those in Yeovil. The idea is to see three or four ‘finders’ in one location in 30-minute slots. This helps local people to access this service and also to speed up the process of identifying archaeological material and returning items to people.

On this occasion, two particularly notable flint scraper blades from the South Somerset area were identified and returned. Flint scrapers were fashioned to scrape animal skin or for processing plant material and were not cutting edges. The earlier scraper dated from the Neolithic period, with the second scraper, more likely from the Bronze Age. Intriguingly, the Finds Liaison Officer informed us that as flint scrapers progressed they actually got cruder in design, which is one way to tell the difference in age.

The Celebrating Yeovil 2017 Calendar is featured in the October 2016 Conduit Magazine.

The scraper blades found in South Somerset which were a fascinating part of our autumn 2016 Archaeological Finds Afternoon, held at CHAC.





Search Every Avenue

We have enjoyed a busy and exciting week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

One of the highlights so far is a donation of three Yeovil maps and a planning document from Yeovil Town Library.

One of the maps dates from 1843 and is a tithe apportionment survey. This is contained within a mount and frame and originally given by L.C. Hayward Senior History Master and Librarian at Yeovil School from 1945 to 1965. The next two maps date from 1952 and show Yeovil town centre. This is an interesting date before the construction of the Reckleford relief road was and the building of the present hospital in 1973. The intriguing aspect is seeing the street names from 1843 and what has changed (or stayed the same) over 100 years later.

The 1952 maps also have the added bonus of coloured keys illustrating the growth of Yeovil over a range of time periods including ‘The Medieval Borough’ to the ‘Present Borough’ dated 1928. There are also links to key historical buildings of note and archaeological finds around Yeovil. For example, the location of The Castle Inn and Roman villa sites are highlighted. This is useful in a very simple way to indicate the site of renowned buildings from an aerial perspective, which may be difficult from ‘street level.’

The planning document is significant. This is the original application for the Nissen-Petren Houses in Goldcroft, Yeovil, based These distinctive, quickly assembled, curved roof constructions designed by Petter and Warren Architects were seen as a cheap alternative to brick homes at the end of the First World War, in the midst of a housing shortage. However, the actual cost of construction exceeded the original quoted £350 estimate per home, to around £513 per home, mainly due their experimental nature. The Borough Council decided not to build any more of the prototype houses, but other examples survive at South Petherton and West Camel.

Our Volunteer, with an interest in maps, enjoyed accessioning these items.

Stay tuned for news on our screening of the “Battle of the Somme” Documentary Film at Yeovil Library on Friday 1st July 2016 at 2.30pm.

Gratitude to Yeovil: The Hidden History, Tempus Publishing, 2002.

The Maps of Yeovil dated 1952 recently donated by Yeovil Town Library.



Home Front Find

We have enjoyed a busy and engaging week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

So far this week, we have attended the recent Museums in Somerset Meeting and let other local museums know what we have achieved and future events and projects; held our quarterly Archaeological Finds Afternoon with the assistance of the Somerset Finds Liaison Officer from Taunton and our Photo Afternoon, where we try and show a selection of the 5000 photographs in the collection.

During the Finds Afternoon one of the notable objects to be identified was a “Binding strip from a medieval or post medieval bucket.”

For our Photograph Afternoon we enjoyed the company of one regular visitor plus a new person that discovered our 2pm to 4pm slot through our railway-themed display in Yeovil Library. They went in and asked; confirmed the time and location and then made the effort to travel on the bus from Sherborne Road and walk the last 15 minutes to be with us.

In addition, a local gardening group were enjoying a tour of the SSDC Nursery alongside us and several members came in to our Research Room. The photographs evoked a wide variety of memories.

One photograph recently located in our store remains something of a mystery, even to someone who has lived in Yeovil all their lives. This may not be surprising, as the image is a close-up of the front of a terraced house (much like other terraced houses in Yeovil). However, the notable detail lies in the fact that one half of the terrace is a shop with a ‘nylons’ dispenser on the wall. We would be grateful for any further details please!

One of the objects identified this week: a “Binding strip from a medieval or post medieval bucket.”


Can anyone tell us where this shop is please? The number above the door is believed to be ‘141’

Mystery Shop534




Finders Sharers

A busy, varied and intriguing week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

We welcomed our group of Yeovil College students last week for an initial guided tour. The students are studying English and History and the tour proved rewarding for everyone involved. We were especially keen to discover how the practical tasks we have planned can also help with the student’s future career aspirations.

Staff were interested to learn that the students did not know of CHAC’s existence until they were informed by their lecturer. This is often the case, but this soon changed and by the end of the tour, all were saying “did you see that green chiffon 1920’s dress” or “what about those amazing diaries.”

We aim to have our first practical session this week and will report back on our next Blog.

Staff are also helping with the ‘Know Your Place’ project. This is a new scheme designed to find the significant maps in a museum’s collection and then enable them to be digitally scanned and uploaded to the ‘Know Your Place’ website. CHAC is loaning a selection of Yeovil maps to the Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton for this process to be completed at the beginning of December 2015. This is a reminder of the significant detail that goes into the preparation of objects for transit or exhibition, including the ‘condition reports’ to show that an object comes back in the same condition in which it left!

We also welcome the Somerset Finds Liaison Officer to CHAC for our next Archaeological Finds Afternoon. This is another beneficial activity, as local finders have a nearby, regular event to which they can bring ‘newly discovered’ archaeological material and finds brought in to previous afternoons can be returned to them. Finds dated to before 1700 come under the remit of the Finds Liaison Officer and where time allows, identifications are often made during our 2pm-4pm time slot. Often 5-6 finders arrive in the 2 hours. This may not sound many, but each person often brings 30 individual items to identify and then may also have some to be returned. In addition, accurate paperwork needs to be completed, often consulting an Ordnance Survey Map (or similar!) to obtain a 6-figure grid reference of exactly where the items were found. Two or three ‘finders’ can often be waiting, but this is another enjoyable aspect of the ‘Finds Afternoon’ – for different finders to see, discover and share discussion on what they have found and where. This underlines the professional standards around ‘responsible collecting’ and archaeological finds; which includes gaining permission from landowners in the first place and then reporting the finds under the Portable Antiquities Scheme (or PAS) as the context or place where something is found, is often as important as the object itself – particularly if an unusual object is found at an ‘existing’ site, which is already well documented; thus making us re-evaluate existing information!

We will try and report a selection of what ‘finds’ were brought in (where permissible) in our next post.

The Yeovil in the Past 2016 Calendar continues to do well – with sales around the 350 mark! Thank you to everyone including all our outlets, which are helping us; special mention to The Emporium, Princes Street, Yeovil; Yeovil and Cartgate Tourist Information Centres; Ninesprings Café and Brimsmore Garden Centre.

One of our recent donations is this Yeovil spoon with the St. John the Baptist Emblem representing St. John’s Church, Yeovil.



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.”


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!

Quite a Find!

A busy and intriguing week so far at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

As we write, we are in the middle of our quarterly Archaeological Finds Afternoon with the Somerset Finds Liaison Officer. A number of notable finds were brought in to be identified and a selection previously identified were returned. We have an image below of some of the finds brought in, found near Crewkerne, Somerset.

These are: an iron age coin; two Medieval coins; an 11th century buckle; a late Saxon hooked tag; Roman coins and a Roman brooch and a mystery item!

The Finds Afternoon is another use of CHAC, which helps a variety of people to access a thought-provoking and fascinating service and also emphasises responsible collecting – specifically recording the details of what an object is; where it was found and when and how – with the Finds Liaison Officer possibly able to provide an identification and a suggestion as to why the object ended up where it was found.

Image courtesy of The Somerset Finds Liaison Officer.