Illuminating the past – Enhancing the present – Inspiring the future

Saxon disc brooch

The Finds Department is responsible for the processing, analysis and curation of the finds recovered by the Trust’s fieldwork. A wide range of materials, from all periods, are handled by the finds staff, supported by an enthusiastic group of volunteers.  All finds retrieved from site are suitably bagged and labelled using ‘Tyvek’ waterproof labels and permanent marker pens. Once deposited with the Finds Department finds are processed (including sorting, washing and marking as appropriate) and recorded in the Integrated Archaeological Database (IADB) used by CAT.

Once processed, finds are stored in conditions appropriate for their material, based on published IFA guidance and advice from conservation specialists. The majority of bulk finds (pottery, ceramic building material, animal bone, and lithics) are stored in polybags within brass wire-stitched boxes (1900 micron double kraft-lined, p.H. 6.5-8) supplied by the Ryder Box Co. Organic finds recovered from wet contexts are stored within taped-up black plastic bags and kept in cool dark storage areas. Small metal finds are usually placed in ventilated polygrip bags with foam inserts. These are then placed in sealed plastic boxes (‘Stewart boxes’) with silica gel and humidity indicators. These are kept in our lockable Small Finds store, which is maintained at a temperature of about 28 degrees Celsius and a relative humidity of 20–25°. Finds which are too large to place in Stewart boxes (such as swords or spearheads) are kept in open foam-lined boxes within the Small Finds store. Especially delicate or significant small finds are, where appropriate, stored in Stewart ‘crystal’ boxes lined with ‘plastazote’ foam sheet.

Following processing, recording and storage, finds are assessed and analysed by relevant specialists, whose reports are then integrated into the overall analysis and publication of the site. The Trust has a number of in-house specialists covering areas such as metal small finds, Anglo-Saxon grave goods, coins, human remains, bird, amphibian and insect remains, worked flint, ceramic building materials and Roman pottery. The Trust also works with a network of external specialists covering the full range of archaeological finds recovered in Britain, including  pottery, worked stone, mammal and fish bones, plant remains, wood, glass, textiles and metalworking waste.

The following services are provided by the CAT Finds Department:

  • Finds processing and recording
  • X-radiography
  • Advice on the appropriate care and storage of archaeological finds
  • Finds identification, assessment and analysis of all classes of archaeological finds
  • Educational outreach and volunteering opportunities involving finds

CAT is also able to arrange a full spectrum of scientific analyses and conservation of archaeological material.


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