Archaeology major discoveries: Five of the best UK findings

Britain’s Pompeii: Archaeologists excavate Bronze Age settlement

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Earlier this week a 13-year-old girl made what’s been called a ‘once in a lifetime’ discovery, after finding an axe dating from 1300BC. The find has thrust archaeology into the public eye and sparked new interest in the topic. Here, takes a look at five of the best major archaeological discoveries that have been made in the UK.

For centuries archaeologists have been searching up and down the UK for remnants of the by-gone era.

Whether it be weapons, tools, or buildings, all are of keen interest to those who look to learn about and preserve the past.

What though have archaeologists actually been able to find throughout the UK’s shores?

Below we take a closer look at five of the best archaeological discoveries that have surfaced in the UK.

The Ringlemere Cup

To this day we still know little about the people who occupied south east England more than 3,500 years ago.

However, metal detectorist Cliff Bradshaw’s discovery of a Bronze Age vessel, in 2001, helped to shed a little light on what life might have looked like during that period.

Mr Bradshaw discovered the cup – that originally would have measured 11cm in length – whilst out scanning the fields of Ringlemere Farm, in Kent.

The cup dates back in age to 1700-1500BC, and such was its rarity that it was acquired by the British Museum.

Thousands of Roman ‘Grots’

Grots is the term used to refer to worn and corroded base-metal Roman coins from the Roman occupation of Britain.

Thousands have been discovered across England and Wales. In 2020, the Portable Antiquities Scheme had recorded 320,000 discoveries – the largest of its kind anywhere in the world.

Every Roman Emperor issued their own coin.

This makes Roman coins a uniquely valuable source of information for the evolution of Roman Britain, which existed for more than three centuries.

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Domitianus – the unknown Emperor

In 2003, a metal detectorist called Brian Malin discovered a jar of 4,957 Roman coins, whilst scouring farmland in Oxfordshire.

The coins dated between 251-279AD and on the surface looked nothing spectacular, as over 600 discoveries of coins from the same period had already been made at that point.

However, after the coins were taken to the British Museum to be preserved and identified, a surprising discovery was made.

One of the coins was marked with the face and name of Domitianus, who was a Roman Emperor that – until then – historians believed to be a hoax.

Mr Malin’s discovery changed all of that though, and placed Domitianus’s name into the history books forever.

Staffordshire Moorland’s Pan

Unearthed in the Peak District, in 2003, the artefact is one of a group of enamel decorated cups made to celebrate the creation of Hadrian’s Wall.

Hadrian’s Wall was built in 122AD by the Roman Empire to form their northern frontier in Britain.

Around the pan’s rim are inscriptions which name the four forts on the western end of the wall.

It’s thought that the name of the pan’s owner – Draco – is also inscribed on it.

The Staffordshire Hoard

In 2009, more than 4,500 fragments of war gear and religious objects, dating back to the seventh century, were found in Staffordshire.

In total, the haul amounted to 4kg of gold and 1.5kg of silver.

At the time, the discovery shone new light on the Anglo-Saxon period and garnered public attention for the craftsmanship of some of the objects.

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