Skip to main content

Badsey Archaeology

Archaeological finds around Badsey tell us about the history of the area going back many thousands of years. The Roman period in Badsey is described on a separate page.

Arthur Jones

Badsey market gardener Arthur Jones (1863-1950) spent most of his life studying the archaeology of the area. A large part of his collection is at the Worcester Museum including flints, coins and other archaeology. Although he does not appear to have written any articles himself, the following archaeological publications mention his work:

Transactions of the Worcestershire Archaeology Society for 1944, Vol XXI, 1945, ed by E A B Barnard
"Two rare coins have been reported, the first Anglo-Saxon sceattas recorded from Worcestershire: one from Sedgeberrow and the other from Badsey Fields. The latter was found by our member, Mr Arthur E Jones, who has presented it to the Worcester Museum, there to take its place among other interesting coins which he has found on the same site and thereabouts. These coins, less than half an inch across, are of base silver, stuck at, or imitated from those struck at London, the remains of which name are preserved in the ONIOIU of the obverse. The reverse shows a figure (? An ecclesiastic, possibly Mellitus, Bishop of London, c 604-616) bearing two long crosses and clothed in a long robe with a chequered upper part. The head on the reverse is derived from the Roman coinage."

The Archaeological Newsletter, October 1949, Vol 2, No 6
"One of the most interesting areas of occupation, dating from this period and as yet unexplored, is centred in the black alluvial soil of the Lower Avon. Here in the Badsey-South Littleton district, and almost within the shadow of Bredon Hill, lies a rich area of cultivation which may have been farmed as early as the second century BC. Rising slightly above the dark fen-like cultivated fields are ridges an low hillocks on which there is evidence of intensive settlement over a period of some centuries and including the whole of the Roman occupation. Indeed it may well be that the inhabitants of Bredon, who appear to have left the hill fort after the dramatic engagement, settled in this area from the early years of the first century AD. The find, now deposited at Worcester Museum, include much Iron Age and Roman material with coins dating from Claudius to Arcadius. The discovery is due to the active interest taken by Mr A E Jones of Badsey over a period of three-quarters of a century (!). He has been responsible for saving many of the objects and recording them, and it is to be hoped that full-scale excavations on scientific lines may be undertaken at one or more of the settlement sites in this district."

An article in the Cheltenham Chronicle from 1944 tells us that some of Arthur Jones's finds were also given to the Cheltenham Museum.

Foxhill near Badsey

This description of Foxhill is from A Descriptive History of the Town of Evesham by George May, published 1845.

"At about a mile's distance eastward from the church, upon a farm occupied by Mr. Gibbs of Knowle Hill, and seated on a gentle slope, is a field now called "Foxhill." Here pieces of coarse, dark, gritty pottery are widely strewn, intermixed with fragments of finer quality, colored red. Human bones in beds, and those of animals, apart from the former, intermixed with antlers of deer and the horns of small cattle, have also been recently disturbed. Rude slabs of stone, occasionally laid kiln-wise, and bearing marks of fire, have likewise been exposed. These at first regarded as places where the ware was baked; but Mr. Gibbs remarks that the soil being wholly on gravel, there is no material for pottery any where near. No coins appears to have been found here, with the exception of one of those small copper Constantines that elsewhere commonly occur; but what is perhaps earlier than our Roman coinage - a rude bead or annulet, of pared bone, one inch in diameter, and a fourth of an inch thick, has been preserved. As soon as the present crop will permit, Mr. Gibbs intends to open the ground for careful examination. Meanwhile, from what we have hitherto seen, we are disposed to regard the site as that of a British settlement; but whether so occupied before the Roman invasion we are not at present to assert."

Rifle bullet

A spent bullet found in the ground along Sands Lane by Peter Stewart in September 2012 has been identified by one of the worlds leading authority on weapons and ammunitions, Anthony Williams, as been fired from a Martini Henry Rifle and dates from 1875 (give or take a few years). This rifle was in use from 1871 to 1888 and used in the British colonial wars, second Anglo-Afghan wars, Anglo-Zulu wars, and the Boer Wars.

Rifle bullet

We must ask who in Badsey served in any of the listed conflicts, brought home his rifle and discharged it over Badsey?

Woad grinder

Peter Stewart has recently put a name to a bronze artefact that was found by Semour Smith back in the 1960s in Badsey. This is a Woad Grinder, also known as a Cosmetic Grinder. It was used to grind up the plant known as Woad.

Woad grinder
Woad Grinder 1st Century BC – 1st Century AD found in Badsey in the 1960s

Also known as a cosmetic grinder, this would have been the mortarium half of a two piece set worn a round the neck and much used, like a small pestle and mortar, for grinding up the small blue flower that produced the distinctive dye known as 'woad' . Made of bronze, it measures 65 mm in length.

Celtic warriors used to paint elaborate patterns on their faces and bodies in order to make them more terrifying and fearsome going into battle. Carrying a small shield and a big sword, sometimes naked and with his hair spiked up with mud, he would present a very scary sight as he charged at you screaming like a banshee. Although I think these days he could easily fit into any Saturday night town centre at turning out time and no one would notice.

A very early find:
Flint blade from Badsey

During a recent field walk on one of his study sites in Badsey, Peter Stewart found a flint flake. He forwarded photographs of the find to landscape consultant Paul Whitehead who believes the flake to be Neolithic or later. He states that it appears to have been roughly blunted all round with one side retaining a small clearly-defined hemispherical impression - where the tool-user has passed it to and fro (like a spokeshave) over a hard material, possibly bone, or during bone pin manufacture. The flake measures 35mm x 15mm but its butt and tip have been removed by the blunting so that it is impossible to estimate its original length.

Flint blade
Found in 2012, this stone age flint blade is likely to be at least 6000 years old.

This flint blade predates all of the other artefacts Peter Stewart has so far found at this site though past surface finds in the same area indicate considerable prehistoric and Romano-British occupation. They include Bronze Age pottery; Iron Age Coins; Romano-British pottery; querns; fibulae; coins and human burials. (Turner. J.H., 1974. Register of Countryside Treasures. Worcester County Planning Department). The present whereabouts of these previous finds have yet to be determined.

Silver penny

This silver penny was found by Peter Stewart in the middle of a ploughed field in Badsey in 2011. In an article in Cotswold & Vale Magazine (April 2012), he tells the story revealed by the find.

Fake silver penny

The coin appeared to be a penny from the time of Edward I (1272-1307). But when he showed it to coin expert Mike Edward, they agreed it did not look quite right. Further investigation showed it was an imitation produced in France by the Duke of Lorraine using poor quality silver. Despite attempts to ban them, the coins infiltrated English currency. The coin has also been clipped. Peter comments 'One cannot help but feel sorry for the poor individual whose coin it was. He not only lost the equivalent of half a day's pay but was not aware that he had been paid in imitation money.'

Anglo-Saxon Sceatta

This sceatta coin was another find by Peter Stewart at Badsey in 2012. Arthur Jones also found two examples in the 1940s, but they are much less common than Roman coins.

Sceatta 1 Sceatta 2

The sceatta is a small hammered silver coin from the Anglo-Saxon period. From about 675 to 740 AD they were the only coins in circulation. They were minted in England, Frisia and Jutland. There are quite a number of different designs. The pattern here is given the name 'porcupine'. This coin has been registered with the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge with the following details:

Primary sceatta -E, var. G3, North 45
Obv. Porcupine.
Rev. Standard.
Weight: 1.20g
Badsey, Worcestershire. M/D find, 26 March 2012.
The westerly findspot for a Porcupine sceat is notable.


Coin of Offa of Mercia (757-796)

This coin which has remained unidentified until only recently is in the possession of Peter Stewart who found the coin in Badsey in 1978. It was so badly coated with a crust that he thought it best to leave it well alone. In 2016 it was put an olive oil bath for several weeks until the crust started falling away to reveal that is was a silver coin and that the wording Offa was evident on the obverse of the coin. Photographs of the coin was sent away for expert opinion and the following report was received-

"The penny is, as you know, of Offa of Mercia (757-796) and belongs to the coinage of the middle period of his reign known as the Light Coinage struck from c.779-792/3. The mint is Canterbury and the moneyer Osmod who is a plentiful moneyer, although there are more common ones, who continued to work there in the final issue of the reign, the Heavy Coinage, struck from 792/3 - 796. He does not appear to have worked in the following reign of Coenwulf (796-821). The letters are in Roman capitals except for the 'd' of the moneyer's name which is cursive lower case. Here is is reversed because the die-cutter forgot to cut it in mirror image on the die; sometimes he got it right, other times not.

Your coin is a die-duplicate of Chick no.125b, one of seven coins of this type he lists for Osmod. None were found in Western Mercia. The coin that is the die-duplicate of yours is the one in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, SCBI (Sylloge of the Coins of the British Isles) I (1958), no.393. This volume was written by Professor Philip Grierson. It has no known find spot and was passed to the museum as a loan from Emmanuel College in 1937. That coin Chick describes the obverse as +O / FF / AR / EX in the angles of a long cross botonnee over a saltire botonnee and the reverse as O / S /M / O /d in the angles of a long cross botonnee with a large annulet in the centre containing a rosette, d reversed.
This coins weighs 1.13g so, taking account of the slight chipping on your piece, is very similar."
The coin is registered with the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge with the following details:
Offa of Mercia (757-796), Light Coinage, Chick 125, Blunt 19, North 264, Canterbury, Osmod.

Obv. +O / FF / AR / EX
Rev. O / SM / O / d (d reversed)
Weight: 1.00g (chipped)
Badsey, near Evesham, Worcestershire. M/D find, 1978
The coin is recorded as no. 2011.0058 in the Corpus of Early Medieval Coin Finds (EMC).


Ancient Erotic Phallus Amulet

The phallus (or symbolic male genitals) represented masculinity and virility in Ancient Rome. These amulets where worn to ward off evil, increase a soldiers strength in battle and perhaps to titillate a prospective sexual conquest. Many hundreds of different shapes and sizes have been discovered over the last three hundred years. The Phallic amulet was worn in Ancient Rome to pay homage to a number of different Gods depending upon the wearers desires and background: Mutinus Mutunus (Greek - Priapus); the Roman God of fertility. Eros; the primordial god of lust, love, and intercourse. Cupid (Latin cupido); the god of erotic love and beauty. Roman women seeking to bear children invoked these Gods, as well as Roman Men who sought to increase virility, sexual performance or attraction. Also in some parts of ancient Rome, people believed that phallic charms and ornaments offered protection against the evil eye. A phallic charm was called fascinum in Latin, from the verb fascinare (the origin of the English word "to fascinate"), "to cast a spell", such as that of the evil eye. This amulet made of bronze was found alongside Badsey brook in 1976 and is believed to be of Roman origin.


Medieval Horse Harness Pendant (Could this find at Badsey could be related to the Battle of Evesham?)