20th August 2015 - Coin Hoard Blog - Jersey Heritage

It's become traditional for me to apologize at the beginning of each blog for how long it's been since the last one and this is no time to change that habit so sorry once again. There's no way around it at the moment as I've just had a few weeks off enjoying our nearby French coast.

In addition to eating all of Brittany's seafood and crepes available I also took my family along to see Coriosolis, the Roman and Celtic interpretation Centre in Corseul.  This as you may have guessed is where the Coriosolites, our hoard coin makers, came from.  It was a nice exhibition although there wasn't as much Celtic material as I expected.  My kids didn't find this surprising and pointed out that we'd got it all, which is fair I suppose.

Meanwhile back at the ranch (or lab) life continues to be quiet.  I mentioned last month that our metrology arm measuring device, which allows us to record the position of each coin before removal, was away in Germany being serviced.  Well annoyingly it's still there, apparently stuck in customs at some airport.  This has happened every time we've had to get some work done on it and it's impacted on our work a lot over the last six weeks.  We deliberately built up a backlog of removed but uncleaned coins before it went but we're so efficient with our volunteers that they were all done in about ten days.  Since then the work has been reduced to photography of the coins and inputting data onto our online database.  This has been really useful and we have caught up well with both these activities but the lack of actual coin reoval has been very frustrating.

One accidental removal we had was a small collapse on one side of the hoard.  About thirty coins fell off in a block, along with one of the flattened gold torque sections.  We were able to replace the coins accurately enough to allow later measuring but we decided to leave the torque off.  We haven't cleaned any of these large pieces yet so it was a first run for our planned process.  Essentially this means a very thorough inspection under the stereo microscope to check for any signs of organic material or other things we would wish to preserve.  If any were found then we would clean around them so as not to damage them.  On this occasion there was nothing to be seen so I was happy to immerse the piece in 30% formic acid.  The gold itself is impervious to this acid but it is useful for removing the attached green crust of copper corrosion left by the surrounding coins.  At the end of the process, as you can see above, the gold was brilliantly shiny and looks literally good as new.  We tried to avoid anything that would scratch its surface during the dismantling and the use of the acid meant no fresh tool marks from the cleaning so its surface should still show all the maker's tool marks and so forth that have survived.  It's a strange thing to look at now.  It's so perfect that it's a fascinating sight but a small part of me can't help thinking that with all the green corrosion gone it just looks like a sweet wrapper.

Apart from our hoping for the eventual return of our metrology arm, the big thing in our future is the imminent move of the hoard, and our lab, to another local museum site, La Hougue Bie.  The current exhibition at Jersey Museum about the hoard ends early next month and we will finish the remaining two years of the project at the new site.  The new lab is very similar to our current one and once again it will be glass walled to allow the work to be shared with the public.  The change itself will be exciting but the most heart stopping moment of the move will once again be the hoard's journey out of our current gallery.  Our exhibition space here is on the second floor and as the hoard is too big for our lift it will be pulled out of the gallery through the exterior door by a crane fifty feet below and, swinging on its chains, gently (we hope) lowered onto the back of the removal truck.

That's about it for now but I promise I will blog again as soon as the metrology arm returns, or the next ice age, whichever is first.