26 July 2016 - Coin Hoard Blog - Jersey Heritage

A good couple of weeks. First we had a visit from leading historians and archaeologists from Britain and France to discuss the future of the hoard project and then we've discovered a bag of bracelets


Our conference went really well.  Everyone was suitably impressed by the hoard itself and we had some very useful discussions about how to proceed with our work.  In the short term this will affect how we treat objects, doing less initial cleaning on jewellery for example so as to allow for full analysis and putting a certain number of coins aside completely untreated for the same reason.  In the longer term we've begun to investigate how to work with partners in the UK and elsewhere on specific research programmes.  We're only just begining to go through the records of the meeting and look at how best to proceed but it's given us the best possible start.  A big thank you to everybody who attended.  

Then last week Viki and Georgia brought something to my attention on the hoard surface.  At first it just looked like a brown stain but they'd seen traces of a textile weave visible in it.  We carefully excavated the coins around it and saw a gold bracelet poking out of the brown material.  Soon we could see that there was at least one other piece of jewellery inside the mass.  As this material looked extremely degraded I decided we could risk removing the top of it so as to reveal and record the items inside.  I carefully lifted of its cap in one piece and we then realized that what we had was a textile bag full of perhaps twenty bracelets.  Apart from the thick gold one, the rest seemed to be silver.  There were also scraps of silver wire and small pieces of gold.  

We recorded this all as well as possible using sketches, photogrammetry  and 3D laser scanning.  I had planned to then remove the jewellery piece by piece so as to only leave one very large bracelet and a mass of scrunched up textile attached to it.  I thought we could lift this out untouched and then treat it at our leisure.  All began well and we removed thirteen small pieces of scrap gold and silver wire.  When it came to the jewellery itself however we ran into a problem.  You know that damn children's game with curly tailed monkeys.  Well combine that with Buckaroo and you get an idea of our issue.  It turned out that every piece of jewellery seemed to be connected to every other piece.  All the smaller pieces at the front were looped through a closed fibula brooch which we would never dare to try and open.  These pieces in turn had a large twisted silver bracelet wrapped though them and the same bracelet then went through virtually every other piece there.  There was just no way that we could remove these items without tearing the surviving textile.  

What we have decided to do as a safe plan therefore is to block lift the whole mass out as one.  We will remove all the coins surrounding it till we reach the earth at the hoard's bottom.  Once this ring of bare earth is revealed we can undercut the whole bag and transfer it to a container to wait for treatment.  Once the textile is stabilized and strengthened we should be able to seperate out at least some of the jewellery.  It's funny though that no matter how well they clean up the pieces strung together two thousand years ago on that brooch will always stay together now as the metal will be too brittle to unclip.  One other surprise we came across was a a group of these bracelets tied together with a stalk of grass. It's easy to see how it was done and knot is very clear.  Hopefully this can be consolidated  to make it strong enough to survive the conservation process.  I'll let you know how things are going soon.