History beneath our feet – October 2023

Words by:
Colin Smale
Featured in:
October 2023

Colin Smale examines fascinating historical artefacts found in our county.

If you could clear away today’s landscape and reveal that of Roman or Saxon times, you may be very surprised at what there once was near you. Your house may have been right in the middle of a long-forgotten settlement site! While weeding her garden in Cleethorpes, an elderly lady pulled out a 1,000 year-old Saxon finger ring. It begs the question, what was going on there in Cleethorpes 1,000 years ago?

Discoveries can surface at the turn of the archaeologist’s trowel, the farmer’s plough or from the beep of a metal detectorist’s machine. Sometimes the artefact is immediately recognisable, such as a coin or a button, but more often than not the item is enigmatic, like the strange shard of pottery shown here [PIC 3]?

What could this have been, it was obviously created for a purpose?

According to recent research this type of perforated pottery was used to separate cheese curd from whey, it was for making cheese and has been used as such for well over 7,000 years! This piece has been loosely dated as Romano-British (AD 43-410).

I mentioned buttons; well, ancient buttons can also be more interesting than you might think. Just take a look at the one featured here [PIC 2], known as a ‘livery button’, found on farmland in Caistor. It shows a covered wagon pulled by two horses and you can even see the harnesses. It reads ‘Brocklesby Caister’. It’s a bus and dates from around 1770-1850!

Today’s Caistor was obviously yesterday’s Caister because such a wagon is hardly likely to have plied between Lincolnshire and Caister in Norfolk.

Gold or silver does surface from time to time and here is a beautiful Celtic gold stater of Dumnocoveros [PIC 1], ruler or king of our own Celtic tribe, the Corieltavi (sometimes called the Coritani) who inhabited this region in the Roman period and before. Its diameter is 19 millimetres and it weighs 5.40 grams.

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