Erik is from Canada and with us for a few weeks….

Eric photo

I am Erik Vander Meulen, I am a master’s student in Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton and currently half way through my placement at the Salisbury Museum as part of the Portable Antiquity Scheme (PAS) under the supervision of Richard Henry.  In my role, I am identifying, recording, and photographing finds brought in to the Museum as part of the PAS.

The PAS works with the public to record and document archaeological finds, usually found by metal detectorists. In doing this, there have been a lot of artefacts reported to the scheme that metal detectorists have found that used to remain seen only by the collectors. Now, due to PAS, these artefacts are able to be seen by both the public and academics which is contributing to research and public interest. As well, by utilizing the public and not condemning metal detectorists, it makes them feel like they are contributing to the public record and through this, the PAS has increased public awareness and positive engagement with local history and archaeology. To find out more about the Portable Antiquities Scheme you can visit their website www.finds.org.uk

Through my time at here I have learned a lot about Roman, medieval and post-medieval English coins, such as how to identify a Roman coin by the imagery and inscriptions on the obverse and reverse sides of the coin. Even without being able to see the whole inscription, having a set of letters can be enough to identify the coin by cross-referencing the phrases that it could make and the emperor or reverse type.

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Figure 1 – WILT-B0918E Copper Alloy Roman Nummus of Constantius II.

Medieval and post-medieval coins use similar ways to be identified. However, there are fewer reverse types, so the identification relies more on the inscriptions and the ruler.

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Figure 2 – WILT-2FD49E Post-Medieval Penny of Elizabeth I.

I have also learned about and recorded various other artefact types ranging from Bronze Age socketed axes to post-medieval buckles. Since these objects are less common and varied, I have been learning about them at the same time as the object types have been presented for record.

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Figure 3 – WILT-317BC9 Copper Alloy Medieval Bar Mount.

My favorite pair of artefacts so far has been a set of complete ceramic vessels, a dropped flange bowl and a “dog dish” plain bowl. They are both black burnished ware vessels circa AD 200-410. I find them interesting because they are both decorated alike with the same burnish, overlapping arched lattice work around the exterior, and a “X” inscribed on the bottoms.

Upon consulting an expert, I found out that the dog dish would have been used as both a bowl and a lid, and the dropped flange on the bowl was designed to have a lid. The dog dish proved to fit on top of the dropped flange bowl, so the two pieces might have been a set!

My experience here at Salisbury Museum has been fascinating. Every day, I get to interact with pieces of history and I am grateful for this opportunity. I look forward to using this knowledge in the future and I am excited for the rest of my placement here at the museum.