Glastonbury Abbey Symposium 9 June 2011 Abbey Shield

Metal & Bone Finds, by Paul Courtney

Freelance archaeologist

I am a late-comer to the project having taken over from the late Geoff Egan. My first task has been to catalogue the finds, take measurements and I have also taken photographs of the more interesting examples to enable ongoing research. I have also now catalogued the objects in the abbey museum having arrived a couple of days early for the symposium. A selection of about 80 objects has been made for illustration concentrating on the medieval aspects of the abbey. I am currently writing a catalogue to accompany the illustrated finds and doing more detailed research on them.

The collection of finds is wide ranging and dates from the late Saxon to 19th century or later. Difficulties are posed by the large number of objects, lack of stratigraphy to aid dating, their eclectic and sometimes unique nature and the poor preservation of the ironwork after long storage. Finds vary from a Romanesque brooch pin to copper alloy keys used on barrel spigots in the 18th or 19th century. One spatial discovery was the realization that a group of bell fragments from the crossing also contained cauldron fragments. It probably represents a hoard of scrap collected for melting at the Dissolution and overlooked for some reason. The 16th century weavers seem illusive in terms of artefacts but a socketed handle from a Continental form of skillet and a small spout (both copper alloy), whose closest parallels are from Dutch baby feeders, may be linked.

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