Celebrating the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Oxfordshire since the Scheme’s inception, Anni Byard has chosen 50 objects from over 30,000 recorded over the last 13 years. And what a difficult choice it must have been! The objects were all found by the public (mostly by metal-detectorists), hence the inevitable bias towards metalwork, but Anni has also included some stunning flint and stone tools, illustrating the wealth of early prehistoric material from Oxfordshire.
The book is illustrated with beautifully detailed images of the finds, enhanced by reconstructions, parallels, and distribution maps. From the early Bronze Age gold ‘basket’ ornament to the WWI matchbox cover inscribed with ‘YPRES’, each object tells a powerful story. There is a wealth of exquisitely manufactured objects: an Iron Age fob dangler with its three-legged design, Roman dividers with their eagle-head decoration, and the buckle from a 13th-century dog lead – to name but a few. These objects give a tantalising glimpse of the archaeology hidden beneath our countryside in areas that are unlikely to be excavated. It is a little book of delights.
This review appeared in CA 335.