Being the record holder doesn't really have any historic or scientific significance as such but it's nice to know and useful for our media profile and so forth (though a press release without my face in it doesn't seem like much of an event to me). We're still not finished though and we're pretty confident of making it into the mid sixty thousands if not our original estimate of seventy.
We've finally got around to the purse as well and we did a block lift to remove that this morning. We knew we'd have to remove a number of coins along with the purse in the block (they were under it and supported it) but we wanted to record their position in the hoard as we'd done with all the others so far. What we did was to scan each coin as usual but we didn't remove them. Instead we noted the new coin numbers on the correct places in a series of photographic prints of the block area. When the conservation work on the purse is finished we can then remove the coins knowing which one is which.
The lift itself was done in the same way as the textile bag of bracelets we removed some weeks ago. We removed the coins all round the purse so as to leave a 5cm wide trench all the way down to the earth under the hoard. Once this was done I gently loosened the earth block with the purse on top of it and then lifted it out on a special tool (not a coal scuttle this time but a French biscuit tin lid cut to fit perfectly). It went fine and all the scanned coins came with it as I'd hoped.
The next stage for the purse will be to do a thorough photographic survey and then to gently remove as much of the loose earth from it as possible. Once this is done I will start to infiltrate a water soluble wax called polyethylene glycol into it to allow it to dry safely. At that point we should be able to seperate it from the surrounding coins and earth. It will be fascinating to finally see the coins inside the purse properly. We'd seen some on top which were the same as all the others but I was looking at it with Reg this week and we realized that some more, deeper inside the purse, appear to be different, slightly smaller and with a raised edge. I'll send some images of these to our local coin expert and see if he has any idea what they might be.
I was in Paris last week on a work errand (it's a dirty job) and I got the chance to visit the National Archaeology Museum just outside the city. It was really interesting to compare their collections to our finds and in one case it actually showed me how some of our pieces were used. We've found a number of large glass beads but they were all seperate and we didn't know if they were from a necklace or other object. Well in Paris they had a lot of almost identical one and many were on original bracelets. These were a double or triple spiral of copper or bronze wire with about ten beads threaded on to them. Perhaps we'll find a whole one under the remaining coins.