Monday, 22 June 2009

Post dig 1 - Very interesting find confirmed!

A few days ago this interesting piece came up from just below the turf surface within one of our test trenches. After a quick hand clean it looked like it might be a worked coin, and on further investigation it became clear that the edges of the metal appeared to have been filed cleanly.

It is in fact a French coin - the remains of the words égalité, fraternité can be seen along the bottom edge. It also looks like it has been deliberately cut in the shape of a silhouette.

On that thought, I sent a picture of the object to Dr Nick Saunders of Bristol University Department of Archaeology & Anthropology to ask if he had seen anything like it before. Nick is an expert in the field of 'Trench Art', which is 3-D memory objects that embodied the different experiences of war for makers and consumers between 1914 and 1939 (i.e. soldiers and POWs, and refugees and internees).

I am delighted to say that I received an email today from Nick confirming he had seen something similar before in France or Belgium, and that our find was indeed 'trench art', likely dating from WW1.

So now we have a story to unfold! One theory is that it was a lucky charm, made and carried by someone who had served in France and then later became a member of the Home Guard. Perhaps it was during this duty whilst serving at Eaglesfield Park in Shooters Hill in the defence of London that the piece was lost, only to be turned up by metal detector last week.

In any case it is a fascinating find, and if anyone knows of any other similar items please do get in touch and let us know.

There will be more finds reports over the next few days and weeks, so please keep checking back.

Roger Ward

Click on the image for a larger version
Who is the silhouette of?

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