If you have found something unusual in your garden, whilst on a walk or during a metal detecting session, you could get your object identified at Gold Hill Museum on Saturday.
The Finds Liaison Officer for Dorset and Somerset, Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen, will be offering free item evaluation. It’ll follow the format of TV’s ‘Antiques Roadshow’, where people take objects for experts to assess.
Claire Ryley from Gold Hill Museum says that Ciorstaidh is coming because she wants to log any interesting discoveries rather than estimate values. “She collects information which goes on to the Portable Antiquities Scheme,” says Claire. “Anybody who finds something of interest submits a report about the object and it goes into this publicly available database. Ciorstaidh won’t take your objects away. She just wants to record finds, so your discovery can be shared with other people.”
Claire uses the index frequently in her work at both Gold Hill Museum and Abbey Museum. “Today I looked up ‘medieval pilgrim badges’. A whole list came up. It said what they were like and there were photos,” says Claire.
“Museums, including Gold Hill Museum, have got hardly any space for new objects,” Claire explains. But occasionally, significant items are discovered by members of the public. “There are certain objects, often gold, silver or groups of objects like coins more than 300 years old, which qualify as ‘treasure trove’. The government has the right to buy them from you,” says Claire. “When hordes have been found in recent years, an arrangement has been reached between the landowner, the finder, a local museum or the government to pay a sensible price. Most don’t qualify for treasure trove, though.”
There are interesting objects in the ground all around us in North Dorset, because rubbish was treated differently in the past. “A lot of things got thrown away. People didn’t have regular rubbish collection. In most gardens, people have found bits of pottery or perhaps a clay pipe. If you have found funny shaped flints they might have been used in pre-history. Or they could be a natural flint. Ciorstaidh will help you work out what it is and help you identify future finds,” Claire says.
Saturday’s event at Gold Hill Museum is free. It’s being held between 10.30am and 1pm in the Garden Room. Claire says it’s been arrange to coincide with one of this year’s special exhibitions, sponsored by BV Dairy. “It’s called ‘Found Underground’, and encourages people in Shaftesbury to look at things which have been found locally and try and work out what they are what they were used for,” says Claire.