The first thing was that there was general agreement that the bronze spearhead found a couple of weeks ago is indeed Bronze Age. Andrew said that there had been examples of Bronze Age material found in English Iron Age hoards before but no-one could think of any French examples (Our hoard is essentially French). It appears that the Celts did have some sort of regard for these thousand year old weapons and that they weren't merely scrap metal. Also Andrew had a look at our cleaned torques and mentioned that the decoration on them (abstract patterns and possible "mussels") are apparently unique and certainly haven't been seen on this type before ever. It was really interesting to have a conversation with Andrew and Phil who have extensive knowledge of examples of such jewellery from the period and Peter whose hands-on skills meant that he could definitively say how such and such a piece would have been made. Andrew commented how useful this fusion of experience was and it's obviously going to help us understand our hoard better in the future.
The practical work this week has been coin removal at the "pointy" end of the hoard. Actually it was funny a few weeks ago when Esther Cameron visited to write a report on the purse. She wanted to know how we referred to the hoard orientation, as in did we refer to a Southern or Eastern part of the hoard, and we had to admit we largely used a "pointy end/fat end" system. In the end we had to go and find our excavation report to remind ourselves of how we should describe it. Anyway, back at the pointy end... We keep finding more and more ingots, many of which appear to be sitting on the hoard base, literally thrown into the hole first. Most of them appear to be the same corroded green silver/copper alloy as the coins. We never had any proof of this however until the last few days but it turns out that one of the newly found ingots actually has half melted coins in its surface. This is the first evidence we've found that the hoard buriers were melting down coins into ingots. Andrew Fitpatrick found this very interesting and suggested it may be important in the understanding of just what the hoard was for and what were the circumstances of its burial.
Amid the various new ingots we have found two very unusual ones. One, found in the last couple of days, is different to all the others because its surface is an uncorroded white metal, probably either pure silver or even a silver/gold alloy. We will use X Ray Fluoresence spectrometry in the future to check the alloys of this and other new bits. The other odd one appear to be a normal silver/copper alloy mix but is simply enormous. Apparently most of our ingots are already unusually big and if that's true then I suspect that this one is unprecedented. It's not removed yet or even fully revealed but it must weight more than a kilo, which is a lot of silver.
I'm having next week off so there will be a little while before my next blog, (how uncharacteristic!) Bye till then.