Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cataloguing Finds from Flodden 500 Fieldwalking

Flodden 500 is a project that supports lots of other projects and activities working towards the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden, which took place on 9th September 1513. Part of this project has been to examine the archaeology of the supposed battlefield and the surrounding fields; comprising digs, metal-detecting and fieldwalking. More information about the Flodden 500 project including pictures and descriptions of the finds.

I spent a very interesting St Patrick’s Day (17th March) identifying and cataloguing objects that had been found while fieldwalking.

The sorting and cataloguing session was held in Etal village hall in Northumberland.

There were about 15 people there including two archaeologists, Jenny Vaughan and John Nolan, to help us when we were mystified. I was one of the least experienced volunteers so it was useful to get an introduction to different types of pottery – Roman, Medieval, 17th century, 18th century, and later.

Sometime last summer, field 18 was divided into 100 square metre squares, and the fieldwalkers had picked up everything that looked interesting and bagged it – one bag per square with the square’s reference on the bag.

Our task was to identify each artefact in the bag and write its description on a record sheet, later to be entered into a computer. It sounds more daunting than it was.

Everyone is very friendly and happy to help identify things. A lot of the material that I handled was bits of 18th and 19th century pottery and a few bits of miscellaneous medieval pottery. I would like to think that my expertise with coins helped others.

I also had musket balls, a fragment of lead bullet, some buckled lead sheet, part of a bronze leg of a yetling (a cooking vessel on three legs that stands over a fire), a clay marble, bits of 19th century window glass, fragments of clay tobacco pipes, small bronze and pewter buttons, bits of glass bottles, part of the ramrod holder for a muzzle-loaded gun, polishing stones in sandstone and quartz, a flint microlith (a small bit of waste from stone age tool manufacture), a bit of lead used to repair a pottery vessel, some wire, a medieval pin, a possibly Romano-British tile, and some coins – mostly George III and Victorian halfpennies, but also a Charles I or Charles II copper Scottish twopence.

Most of these artefacts have nothing to do with a battlefield but everything to do with what people used the fields for; perhaps much of it for dealing with waste.

There was tea and coffee to drink and very nice biscuits. I learned a lot, handled some very interesting things, and I’m looking forward to the next sorting and cataloguing day. I just hope that I’ve correctly identified the things that I handled.

Although few people have traced their family history back to that period, the artefacts found provide a wealth of interesting information on our ancestors’ lives, and we feel that it is so important that we’ve started a new Flodden 1513 forum, to which anyone can contribute.

Read our Kith & Kin column every week in the Border Telegraph and Peeblesshire News newspapers.

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