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Helen Geake

Helen Geake

Finds Adviser (Post-Roman Artefacts) to the Portable Antiquities Scheme

Room 305
Faculty Building
Downing Street

Cambridge CB2 3DZ
Office Phone: 01223 333323

Biography:

Dr Geake came to Cambridge in 2003 as part of the nationwide expansion of the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Funded until 2006 largely by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Scheme exists to record archaeological finds made by members of the public. There are local Finds Liaison Officers in every English and Welsh county, and a small advisory staff in the national museums and major universities.

Her job consists of both supporting the work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme across the country, and of promoting the academic study of the data it records. The data is available on the internet at www.finds.org.uk, and is an important resource for both universities and the wider archaeological profession.

Dr Geake previously worked for the Portable Antiquities Scheme as Finds Liaison Officer for Suffolk, one of the busiest county offices. Prior to that she was Assistant Keeper of Archaeology at Norwich Castle Museum, running their Identification and Recording Service. Her doctorate is from the University of York and her undergraduate degree is from University College London.

Research Interests

Her major work has been on burial practice in the seventh and early eighth centuries, studied through the objects deposited with the bodies in the graves. This work has led to an interest both in the social function of earlier Anglo-Saxon objects, and in the landscape contexts of the less demonstrative and more various middle Anglo-Saxon burials.

Working for the Portable Antiquities Scheme has led to a realisation that agricultural operations are steadily destroying much, if not most, of our archaeology in southern and eastern England. This has led to an interest in the management of our archaeological resource, both within and outside the planning system, and the ways in which we might be able to improve this. She is currently working with the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group and Rescue to find ways in which this might be done.

Recording objects on the Portable Antiquities Scheme's database has also forced an interest in terminology and data standards. Archaeological finds have traditionally been carefully curated in museums, and so the way in which they have been recorded has differed from other parts of the archaeological resource. The requirements of the Portable Antiquities Scheme are very different, and so new solutions have had to be found. Work in this area has so far been privately published, but wider dissemination in the future is possible.

Other Professional Activities

Key Publications