University of Leicester visiting Professor awarded the prestigious President's Medal from the British Academy

Posted by ap507 at Sep 27, 2016 10:08 AM |
Professor Roger Bland Visiting Professor at the University's School of Archaeology and Ancient History will receive the Medal on September 27

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 27 September 2016

  • Former recipients include Dr Rowan Williams and Clive James
  • Professor Bland has been recognised for his part in establishing the Portable Antiquities Scheme – a hugely successful online database of more than one million archaeological discoveries made in England and Wales

Photograph of Professor Bland Roger available to download from:

A University of Leicester Visiting Professor has been honoured with one of the highest awards for humanities and social sciences.

Professor Roger Bland OBE, a former British Museum keeper, has been working with the University's School of Archaeology and Ancient History, contributing to research involving coin hoards, such as the Hallaton Treasure – a collection of more than 5,000 silver and gold Iron Age coins found in Leicestershire.

But it was for his work establishing a hugely successful online database for archaeologists and others to share information about new finds which secured him the British Academy’s President’s Medal – awarded annually for “outstanding academic-related activity”.

The citation from the Academy outlined the reasons why he had been chosen.

It said: “This award is for Roger Bland's contribution to the protection, and academic and public understanding, of Britain’s cultural heritage...”

The Portable Antiques Network scheme comprises a website - - and an archaeological database, supported by a nationwide network of finds liaison officers who identify artefacts brought in by the public.

The work is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport through the British Museum and a range of local agencies.

Since its launch in 1997, it has amassed information about some 1.2 million objects in England and Wales, recorded by 45 dedicated archaeologists, as well as members of the public.

“It has proved to be a very rich resource for archaeological research,” said Prof Bland. “The website details more than 500 academic projects, which are using the data.”

The President’s Medal will be presented to Prof Bland on Tuesday 27 September, at the British Academy headquarters, in St James's, London.

Previous winners include the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, in 2013, and broadcaster Clive James, in 2014, in recognition of major contributions to Britain’s cultural life.

“I am humbled to have been honoured with this prestigious award,” he said. “Mainly because it recognises the success of the Portable Antiquities Scheme in harnessing the efforts of amateur searchers for archaeological objects who use metal detectors in transforming our knowledge of our archaeological heritage.”

At Leicester, Professor Bland's research centres on a collaborative project (funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council) with Professors Colin Haselgrove and David Mattingly looking at coin hoarding in Iron Age and Roman Britain.

Prof Bland also brings his wealth of knowledge to students' doctoral work and has jointly supervised four PhDs during his time as Visiting Professor.

He said: “The School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester has been in the forefront of exploiting the academic potential of this new source of knowledge, through the Coin Hoarding project and others.”

Head of School and Professor of Roman Archaeology, at the University David Mattingly added: “Our recent research on Roman coin hoards with Roger is one of many important and valued collaborations between the School of Archaeology and Ancient History and the British Museum, including the Hallaton Treasure and collaborative PhD projects.”

The President’s Medals are awarded annually, designed to recognise signal service to the cause of the humanities and social sciences, and are awarded for outstanding academic-related activity rather than academic achievement alone.

Service may be to one or more disciplines, but preference may be given to breadth of service.

Up to five medals may be awarded each year, depending on the case assembled.

The Medals were first awarded in 2010.


Notes to editors:

For more information contact Roger Bland on

About Professor Bland

Roger Bland OBE is Visiting Professor at the University of Leicester, Senior Research Fellow at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research in the University of Cambridge and an Honorary Lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London.

He was formerly a curator in the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum, and most recently its Keeper of the Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory.

He established the Portable Antiquities Scheme in 1997, a project to record all archaeological objects found by the public in England and Wales, and is currently President of the British Numismatic Society.

The British Academy for the humanities and social sciences. Established by Royal Charter in 1902. Its purpose is to inspire and support high achievement in the humanities and social sciences throughout the UK and internationally, and to promote their public value. For more information, please visit
Follow the British Academy on Twitter @britac_news.

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