A collaboration between Reading University and the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Berkshire

The site

Due to the on-going research on the site mentioned below we will be masking the actual site itself due to the sensitivity of the project and the fact that there are still artefacts going through the Treasure process. It will be known as ‘Near Marlow.’ We will not be able to be more precise than that unfortunately.

The collaboration was instigated by an initial assemblage of Early Medieval finds and treasure finds found on the site by the Maidenhead Search Society metal detecting club which were reported to the Buckinghamshire Finds Liaison Officer in 2018 suggesting a potential Early Medieval burial. Since then, further treasure items prompted the metal detecting club to seek more information and explore further research possibilities by contacting the Early Medieval specialist Dr Gabor Thomas at Reading University. Their concerns were that there could potentially be more Early Medieval burials on the site. They wanted to protect the site and possibly provide evidence that this should be a protected site with the Historic Environment Record. Dr Thomas agreed to carry out geophysics of the site to see if there were any patterns. The initial results produced some sunken settlement features which could possibly be buildings and burials. Further work was needed to investigate these to gain an understanding of the whole site.

Dr Thomas gained some funding from the Wetland Archaeology Research Project (W.A.R.P.), a fund to support local initiatives, and planned to use this funding to organise a small temporary exhibition of all the Early Medieval finds from the site including the initial burial finds from 2018 to be displayed at the Maidenhead Heritage Centre. This would follow a linked one-day conference on Early Medieval sites along the middle Thames from Reading to Windsor examining subjects such as river function and trade. This was in hope that this may raise the profile of the site and gain some interest and private funding in order to carry out further work on the site. However, the conference and exhibition were postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The conference is hoped to be rescheduled for a later date but possibly in a virtual/online format dependent on various factors.  

The landowner has given permission for a small-scale test pit and some field work to be carried out. Therefore fieldwork may take place this August organised and arranged by Dr Thomas and students from Reading University to investigate the sunken featured buildings. This will also involve the Maidenhead Search Society who will assist in the project. The Berkshire Finds Liaison Officer will continue to record any objects discovered for the PAS database and report any treasure finds. Dr Thomas will also update and inform the East Berkshire HER manager Fiona MacDonald as the results may assist in the possible protection of the site if anything substantial is found. 

This case is bringing local communities who are working together to discover and gain knowledge of their local heritage. I think this is a very interesting and important site. The work carried out by Reading University, and the local detecting community, along with the Portable Antiquities Scheme demonstrates how these communities can join together and provide the present and future generations with insights into their past and local heritage. 

 Image below:

Rights Holder: Surrey County Council
License: CC-BY 2.0

A gold cloisonné insert probably from the tongue of an early Anglo-Saxon buckle. Dating to c. AD 550 – 650. 

For more information follow this link but please keep find spot to ‘Near Marlow.’