Collections

Small Finds

Small finds are objects from excavations which are considered to be individually interesting or distinctive, and are recorded separately and in more detail than bulk finds such as animal bone and pottery sherds. They include personal items, such as jewellery or clothing, coins, whole or unusual pottery vessels, manufactured objects and manufacturing waste. Each object is assigned a small find, or SF, number which is used to identify it both internally and for future research and publication. When a small find is published in The Archaeology of York fascicules, it is also assigned a catalogue number which is used to refer to it throughout that publication.

Small finds are invaluable for understanding the lives and identities of people in the past, from how they dressed to what work they did, and how they spent their leisure time. The York Collection contains over 150,000 small finds, including internationally significant Anglo-Scandinavian objects from the Coppergate excavations. A selection of these small finds are available to view below, with the eventual aim of adding records of all of our small finds to this site.

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Bulk Finds

Bulk finds are objects found in large quantities during excavations which are not significant enough in their own right to be individually recorded. This usually consists of pottery vessel sherds, building materials including brick and tile, plaster and mortar, non-worked animal and fish bone, non-structural or unworked stone and wood, modern glass, and unworked slate, shale, or coal.

Each group of material from a specific context - e.g. all animal bone from context 1003 - is assigned a bulk find, or BF, number which is used internally to identify it. 

Bulk finds provide important information about how sites were used by people in the past: for example, animal and fish bones can indicate diet and biodiversity, as well as local farming practices and trade. The York Collection is a valuable resource for researchers investigating these and other topics.