Finds Friday Archive

If you follow us on social media you’ve probably seen our Finds Friday posts, which give you an insight into the artefacts that pass through our hands from dig to post-excavation. These posts are now archived here in case you missed any along the way.

Hover over the images to learn more about them! 

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Flint tools come in all sorts of shapes and sizes - just take a look at these three from recent excavations in Derbyshire. Here we have (from left to right) two Mesolithic flint cores and a late Neolithic/ Early Bronze Age scraper. The cores would have been carefully hit using a soft hammer to detach blades and bladelets. The scraper would have been retouched to get a sharper edge so it could be used to scrape hides or maybe the bark from wood.
We’re back with #FindsFriday after a short hiatus and today we have this beautiful cosmetic jar! Pond's Cream was invented in the United States as a patent medicine by pharmacist Theron T. Pond in 1846. Mr. Pond extracted a healing tea from witch-hazel, which he discovered could heal small cuts and other ailments. This particular design dates from the 1930s when the company’s business had slowed due to the great depression and face cream became a scarce luxury.
A #FindsFriday question for your afternoon! What do you think this creature is? Update: it’s a rabbit! This was a children’s toy made between the 1930s and 1950s by a company called J Hill and Co. who specialised in creating many different types of lead figurines from farm animals to soldiers. Originally painted brown, it’s now a little worn and is missing both ears and legs. This particular rabbit would also have originally come with a small lead hutch. The toy was recovered during excavations in Derbyshire - it takes an eagle eye to spot something this tiny! © Copyright ARS Ltd 2023
For today's (rather chilly) #FindsFriday we've this green medicine bottle with its art-deco overtones, which was used in the sale of camphor oil. Extracted from the wood of camphor trees and processed by steam distillation, this oil has traditionally been used topically to relieve pain, irritation, and itching, as well as chest congestion and inflammatory conditions. Camphor oil is easily absorbed through the skin when applied and is known for its strong taste and odour, so it should be no surprise to learn it was employed as a fumigant during the Black Death in the 14th century AD! It is a long-coveted oil and has been considered a valuable ingredient in both perfume and embalming fluid over the years. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2023
For today’s #FindsFriday, we have this lovely complete inkwell recovered during recent excavations in Bedfordshire. In Europe, glass inkwells were in use from the early 18th century and have been noted in advertisements for writing equipment as early as the 1770s. Historically, it was not until the late 18th to early 19th century that ink was commonly available commercially in liquid form! © Copyright ARS Ltd 2023
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Anyone for checkers? These gaming counters were found at a Roman military fort in Derbyshire. They were probably used to play the game latrunculi, or robbers. This game was one of capture, like modern draughts and chess, with different pieces that are moved around a board made up of squares. The Romans also had race games such as duodecima scripta and Lucky Sixes, which are similar to modern backgammon. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2023
For this #FindsFriday, we’re taking a look at Melon Beads. Melon Beads are so called because their scored surface resembles melon slices! Often produced locally, this particular bead is made of Frit, a mixture of silica and fluxes, which is fused at high temperature to make glass. Found at a Roman fort site, these beads can indicate a 1st - mid-2nd century military context. They are often a signifier of rank or status and have been associated with horse trappings. Beads of this style can be dated as far back as the Iron Age, when they were primarily worn by women. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2023
For the first #FindsFriday of the year we have a base of a Roman jar dating to the late 1st - 3rd century AD! Harrold shell-tempered ware is relatively well distributed across southern Britain and is distinguished by its slightly ‘soapy’ fabric and frequent shell inclusions. Although irregular in texture, this type of pot would have been wheel-thrown. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2023
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For this week's #FindsFriday, we have this assemblage of clay pipes, featuring both bowls and stems! Dating of clay pipes can be established from the location of a maker's mark, the length of the clay pipe stem, and the shape of the bowl. The bowl shapes became more decorative in the later part of the 18th Century. And because the clay pipes were cheap and considered disposable, they are a common find type. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
For this week's #FindsFriday, we want your thoughts! What is this mystery object? We can reveal the object is a lovely bone needle case, used to store metal needles! Ours is thought to date to the Medieval period, likely the 12th-13th Century. The case is highly decorated and made using the tibia of a sheep or goat, and, if you look closely, there is still evidence of faint marking-out lines. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
See previous caption - here's a photo showing how it would have been used (the needles and thread are ours)!
For today's #FindsFriday we have this tiny flint tool. This bladelet was made by notching and snapping off one end. The bladelet was then shaped with abrupt retouching along one edge to form a narrow rod-shaped microlith with a point at the far end. This flint-working technique was in common practice during the late Mesolithic period, meaning this tool could be around 10,000 years old! © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
For today's #FindsFriday, we have this beautiful Roman Penannular brooch! This style of brooch dates approximately to the 1st - 2nd centuries AD and this type is most notable in the north of England, especially Yorkshire/Humberside. Our example is in excellent condition, with the pin still attached. It would have been worn with the pin being pushed through the folds of the fabric and the free end of the pin passing through the gap in the ring. The pin would then be rotated around by about 90 degrees so that it is held down by the frame. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
For today’s #FindsFriday we’re sharing this Early Neolithic pressure-flaked, leaf-shaped arrowhead found during recent excavations. Arrowheads like this would have been mounted on the tip of a wooden shaft and were used for hunting and during warfare. This artefact is around 6000 ish years old! © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
For this week's #FindsFriday, we have this lower half of a square based glass bottle dated to the 19th to mid-20th Century and found during excavations in Derbyshire. Interest in dieting and weight loss began in the mid 19th century with a variety of fad diets, some of which appeared to include excessive amounts of alcohol and butter (not exactly slimming). Among these, 'Antipon' (as seen written on the glass) was hailed as a miracle cure that claimed to permanently 'cure' obesity, and purify the blood, when used for a day and a night. It was described by the Aberystwyth Observer as a clear wine-like liquid; however, the exact composition is unclear. Incidentally, this was not the only so-called 'cure' for obesity during this time period - there was also an obesity soap, which promised to easily reduce body fat without the need for exercise or gymnastics! © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
For this week's #FindsFriday, we have this lovely reconstructed Medieval jar, dated 1300-1500 and nearly complete! This jar was likely used for domestic activities, such as cooking and storage. The lower body of the jar is extensively sooted and the pottery features a thin green glaze on the inner surface of the base-pad. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
For this week's #FindsFriday, we have this hand blown wine bottle glass base found during archaeological works in Derbyshire. Hand blown glass can be identified through the uneven thickness and depth, and general irregularity. When a wine bottle is worked by hand, it is held by an iron rod (a pontil) attached to the base. When the bottle is complete, the rod is snapped away, which leaves a crooked ring behind on the base. However, from the mid-18th century onwards, bottle manufacturing featured moulds rather than pontils! © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
For this weeks #FindsFriday, we have these instantly recognisable sherds of willow patterned pottery! Common across many archaeological sites, the official willow pattern was first designed in 1780 to mirror Chinese themed designs, with the pattern focusing on elements such as pagoda structures, flying birds and three figures on a bridge. Willow is easily identified by its weeping willow tree and its beautiful, vibrant blue colour. This patterned pottery was produced by several manufacturers, featuring well known names such as Royal Doulton, Wedgewood and Churchill. The blue willow myth, often told while families were eating dinner, reveals a story of the forbidden romance between a secretary Chang, and his master's daughter Koong-se, and about the lengths they go to keep their love alive. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
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For today’s #FindsFriday, we have this singer sewing machine oil bottle probably dating to the 20th century. This was used to keep your sewing machine in tip top condition and can still be bought today! The bottle would originally have had a cork seal and was made by the Singer company, which was founded in 1851 by Isaac Merritt Singer. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
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For today's #FindsFriday, here's a recognisable name that will be familiar to many of you. This Denby stoneware bottle is of a mid-19th to early 20th century date. The company was established in 1809 and is still going strong today! The company is famous for their tableware and many of the designs are considered collectables today, such as the Arabesque range designed by Gill Pemberton. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
For this week's #FindsFriday we have this rather large bakelite toothbrush! While this likely dates to the 20th Century, bakelite as a material was first developed by Leo Baekeland in 1909 as the first synthetic plastic. Did you know that the first toothbrushes in England were made and developed by a convict called William Addis in the late 18th century? He was so bored in prison that he created toothbrushes using calf-bone, boar hair and wire. After his release, these were sold commercially and the scale of operations was expanded by his children. This was the first mass-produced toothbrush. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
For this #FindsFriday we have this lovely ink pouring bottle. The stamp 'Stephens Aldersgate London' dates this to the late 19th-20th Century. Ink produced by the Stephens company even went to the South Pole with the ill-fated Scott expedition! © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
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For this #FindsFriday, we have a bone gaming die dating to around the 13th century. Medieval dice such as this one, were often made as trick dice, to roll preferentially on particular numbers. We can tell this from the shape of the object, some of the faces are certainly more rectangular than square! © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
For this week's #FindsFriday we have this well preserved Nuremberg Jetton, or 'reckoning counter' found in Derbyshire. Interestingly, these counters were integral to commerce during the late Medieval period. As calculators weren't to be invented for another few hundred years, jettons were used with a chequered board to perform sums. Jettons carry a wide variety of designs such as animals, shields, bishops, or the orb, as seen here. Today, we have the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is in charge of Her Majesty's Treasury. The word 'exchequer' means chess board, linking current practices with Medieval! © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
For today’s #FindsFriday we have a fully intact copper alloy ‘Knee Brooch’ dating to the 2nd-3rd century AD. This is a relatively common form of brooch, which was used to fasten clothing at someone’s shoulder. Many of these brooches are richly decorated. This one however is much simpler in design. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
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Continuing on from last week's #FindsFriday, we have another reconstructed pot! This time the vessel dates to the Anglo-Saxon period. The pot is likely the lower part of a jar or bowl, was handmade, and contains a moderate amount of sandstone fragments, leaving the rough surface you can see in the inside of the bowl. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
For today's #FindsFriday, take a look at this reconstructed pottery fragment from a recent excavation in Northumberland. This forms part of a simply decorated incised Vase Food Vessel dating to the Early Bronze Age. The pot would have been handmade, likely built by stacking and smoothing locally sourced clay. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
For this #FindsFriday, we have a beautifully conserved copper coin found in a hoard in Derbyshire. If you look closely, you can see two small figures and a wolf. This is a Roman coin dating to the 4th century AD and displays an aspect of a key founding myth relating to the city of Rome. The image of the she-wolf suckling the twins is a prominent symbol of this city and can still be seen around in art and architecture today. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022 © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
For this #FindsFriday, we have a beautifully conserved copper coin found in a hoard in Derbyshire. If you look closely, you can see two small figures and a wolf. This is a Roman coin dating to the 4th century AD and displays an aspect of a key founding myth relating to the city of Rome. The image of the she-wolf suckling the twins is a prominent symbol of this city and can still be seen around in art and architecture today. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
On today’s #FindsFriday, we have this green finger we carefully and sensitively recovered from an excavation. Upon seeing the discolouration, our archaeologists guessed that we might find some kind of copper jewellery, because when copper degrades, it leaves behind this radioactive green colour on whatever it touches. A copper ring was found shortly after. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
For today's #FindsFriday we have this lovely apple-green glaze handle from a 13th-14th century cooking pot. One which may very well have been used to make a medieval pottage (a soup/stew)! Can you see the thick patches of black sooting at the top? © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
On today's #FindsFriday this may look like a nondescript stoneware jar. However, the base of the pot says ‘NOT GENUINE UNLESS BEARING W. P. HARTLEY’S LABEL’. Which helps us date the pot to the late 19th century and link it directly to a company. And not just any company either. Hartley’s is a well known preserves manufacturer, and most of us may even have a jar with their name on in our cupboard! © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
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In today's #FindsFriday we have a piece of social history from the North West - a few partially finished lamp glass fragments that were recovered during excavations at a former glassworks factory. These formed part of safety lamps designed to keep miners safe underground during the 19th century! © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
In our first #FindsFriday of 2022, we’re sharing with you these worked stone balls from our incredibly interesting Roman settlement site in Hope Valley - which appeared on #DiggingForBritain last night! These ballista balls would have hurtled towards the enemy from a sling at great speed. Find out more about the site on our website or watch our archaeologists hard at work on the latest #DiggingForBritain episode on BBC iPlayer. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2022
On #FindsFriday today we have this stunning decorated fragment of Samian pottery. Samian (or Terra Sigillata) is fancy Roman tableware! This bowl fragment likely dates to the 2nd century AD and originates from Gaul. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2021
A little bit of Sheffield social history for you on this week's #FindsFriday. Here we have an enamelled advertising panel for the Sheffield Independent: a newspaper established in 1819. The newspaper would have cost just half a penny in the early 20th century, now about 42 pence! © Copyright ARS Ltd 2021
Who had a porcelain doll as a child? Today's #FindsFriday is this tiny arm, found during excavations recently. It likely dates to the 19th century when toys and objects designed for children became increasingly popular. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2021
It's #FindsFriday! We're in the process of writing a report for a project which identified remains associated with Anglo-Saxon enclosures - and one of the remarkable finds from the site was this beautiful comb made from bone antler. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2021
It's #FindsFriday back with another artefact from our post-excavation team! Today we get to see this Beaker period barbed & tanged arrowhead. Looking closely, toward the bottom, you can see where the barbs have snapped off, likely during use. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2021
This week for #FindsFriday, we have this recently conserved Roman leather shoe. The fragment likely dates to the 1st-4th centuries and was found in waterlogged conditions. The interesting thing about this shoe is that the leather used to make it was recycled - if you look closely, you can see the remains of a short length of seam near the heel! © Copyright ARS Ltd 2021
Today's artefact is a large fragment of mortarium, recently recovered from a site in Northamptonshire, which is now being washed by our Post-Excavation team. Mortaria are a type of Roman food preparation bowls with really gritty surfaces to aid grinding (think pestle and mortar). This one also has a pouring spout. © Copyright ARS Ltd 2021
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