Finds tray – Iron Age swan neck pin

This is a complete copper-alloy ‘swan’s neck’ pin, a kind of artefact generally dated to the Iron Age. It comprises a circular flathead, which appears sub-rectangular in cross-section with rounded edges. Each flat side of the pinhead is decorated with a central ring-and-dot motif, while one of the rounded sides is decorated with two sets of incised triangular bows with a plain lozenge between them. There are also traces of another possible lozenge design on the apex of the head, but this is quite worn. The shaft is integrated with the head and has a sharp curve, which gives this type of object its name.

Photo: Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Found last October by a metal-detectorist near Cholsey in Oxfordshire, it was discovered shortly before the second lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic and is one of thousands of artefacts that have been recorded remotely during this time (see p.48) – a testament to the ways in which Finds Liaison Officers have managed to continue reaching out to finders during this time.

Swan’s neck pins are common finds from Iron Age contexts and there are a number recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database. Most of these are ring-headed pins, however, and only a few have a completely solid head like this one. Examples include one found near Pocklington in Yorkshire (search for YORYM-FCFDA9 on and another near Knapwell in Cambridgeshire (LEIC-DCE6C8), while a further close parallel is noted from Traprain Law hillfort in East Lothian, Scotland.

For more information on this pin, see or search for BH-4FAE3D on the PAS database.

Text: Kathryn Krakowka.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme is an initiative, funded by the DCMS, to encourage the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales. For more information on the Scheme, and to browse its database of over 1.5 million finds, visit This find was recorded remotely by Peter Reavill, the Finds Liaison Officer for Shropshire and Herefordshire, with support from Edward Caswell, Finds Liaison Officer for Oxfordshire, and Reb Ellis, a PhD candidate at the University of Hull.