It's a hot day here in my part of the UK and I have just sent in the revisions to my latest manuscript which is a Regency historical set in London and the Arctic. It's been pretty strange writing about snow, glaciers and the Northern Lights whilst sitting here as the mercury creeps up the thermometer and the dog makes himself a nest in the shade! Anyway, today I'm writing a blog that's a little bit eccentric. Maybe the heat has gone to my head! I hope you find it interesting though. It was going to be called "things I've dug up in the garden" but in the end I decided that "buried treasure" sounded better and also meant that I could include some of the finds my neighbours have made as well as things I've discovered in the local fields.
First of all I should explain that I live in a village that is ancient. In the Domesday Book of 1086 is is called "Eissesberie" and the land belonged to Glastonbury Abbey. It was held from the Abbey by Robert D'Oilly, who was a powerful Norman baron, and by two other tenants who were Saxons known only as Alwin and Edward. There was a church and two mills. There are still two mills now although they have been converted into private houses. One of them was re-built in the 18th century. It's awe-inspiring to know that there have been mills on the same spot for almost a thousand years. There is more information about the village and it's fascinating history here at the Berkshire History site.
So with thousands of years of history beneath our feet it isn't surprising that we would find some interesting items when we are walking the dog or digging the garden. I'm no archaeologist so I haven't been able to date most of the finds but I'm fascinated by the light these throw on the history of the village and the lives of people who lived here down the centuries. Here is a selection of our finds:
A Horseshoe. We have found at least fifteen on these in the field behind the house, suggesting that people have been cultivating the fields around here for many many years. At the moment they are cutting the wheat with a combine harvester. These rusty horseshoes take us back to a time when sowing and harvesting was harder physical work. The most fascinating horseshoe we found is this tiny one that is only a few inches across. I wonder about the horse and I wonder about the owner. We have put one of the horseshoes above our cottage door for good luck and have the others by the gate.
This Victorian glass bottle is the one that I had my Wench plume in at the RWA Conference booksigning in Washington. I found it in a Victorian waste tip under a bank in the field. I think it might have contained perfume. The village pond used to be in the corner of the same field. Because the stream has been piped under the road now the pond has dried up but there are lots of pottery shards from the seventeenth and eighteenth century that were washed down and deposited there, plus other little bits and pieces such as clay pipes, and marbles that must once have belonged to the village children.
A cameo brooch like this one was found by my neighbour when he was re-designing his garden. It is incredibly delicate and beautiful. I think whoever lost this must have been very upset. Perhaps they searched and searched for it without success.
I am wondering how old this belt buckle is. I found it near a Bronze Age barrow, It's very plain but it looks as though it is made of silver. Could it be ancient – or was it mass-produced and lost in the 1980s???
And finally, my favourite find. This is A Henry VIII "Tower Mint" Penny from 1540 inscribed with HDG ROSA SINE SPIA, "Henry by the Grace of God, a rose without thorn." The one found by a friend of mine is completely unworn. It must have been lost when it was brand new. When I held it in the palm of my hand I felt awed and excited that in 1540 someone who lived in Ashbury had had a precious silver penny that had maybe fallen out of a hole in their pocket and was not found for five hundred years!
Are you a "magpie" like I am, picking up interesting objects? Have you ever found "buried treasure" either in the garden or the attic or somewhere else like the beach? Was it something old, or was it of important sentimental value or was it just quirky and interesting?