Found Anything Interesting?...
Many of us have had that excited feeling, often in vain, of thinking you’ve found something. Something ancient, rare or just interesting looking. Be it on a ploughed field distracted by a suspect shaped flint, a glazed potsherd in your flower bed or perhaps something glinting in a pondside. This story is not a rarity, but perhaps what you found is.
Over the past few years as a member of the Ropley History Network and Archive (RHN&A) I have been asked about and been donated several finds from the local area. As a student archaeologist nothing is more exciting than archaeology literally on your doorstep, so to be told about these finds is fascinating. The RHN&A have been recording documents, photos and memories from this part of East Hampshire for over 4 years now and locally found artefacts have been especially fascinating and valuable for our local story…
Recently a local resident living near Old Down Wood wrote to us regarding something he had found some years ago. After some correspondence we agreed a time for me to visit and hear his story He explained that some time ago whilst gardening in a swampy part of his garden he dredged out a rusted something-or-other. He detailed his discovery by his garage doorway as he reached behind a collection of miscellaneous poles and rods. There leaning inconspicuously against the brick wall like some mundane gardening tool smattered with cobwebs was a 200 year old sword!
Another fascinating find was shared with us in the summer of 2023. We were contacted by a local farmer in Ropley who told us his friend who lived locally came to drop off some some old bits which he felt should stay in the village where they were found. I received some photos soon after, and my heart skipped a beat… In a later phone call with the finder he explained that at his old property on Petersfield Road he was struggling to dig some post-holes for a fence so he resorted to using a small electric excavator. This digger dug rather rapidly until it came against a layer of flint and gravel on top of which sat an odd shaped flint lump, which was salvaged. It eventually ended up on a mantlepiece where it sat for some years. What he didn’t realise was that he had found a roughly 600,000 year old Paleolithic handaxe. This ancient flint artefact was made by in a time before Homo Sapiens, by one of our long lost relatives- Homo Neanderthal or the even older Homo Erectus. Practically no other artefacts were known of from this time, from Ropley making it the single oldest find for some distance around the ancient parish.
So what has happened to these finds? Both artefacts have been very kindly donated to and are currently in the curation of the RHN&A where they will be properly recorded with a national archaeological scheme known as the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). The scheme, run by the British Museum, takes photographs, writes a report and publishes their research of the artefact(s) on their website for all to view, then the item(s) are, of course, given back to the finder.
It is these generous locals who share with us what they have found, and equally the stories of how they found it, that help us understand so much more of our local history and archaeology. But the artefacts found and recorded so far only tell us so much. So after having several artefacts loaned and donated to us we want to extend the opportunity for more local residents to come forward and share their artefacts and the equally important stories attached to them.
Perhaps you or someone you know has found what you hope is an artefact; like an interesting flint, a metal object or potsherd. If you would like to receive some more information about your find or would like to officially record it please let us know by commenting on the post or via the email below.