It's sometimes interesting to wander around your back garden and take yourself back in time, imagining who might have trodden in your footsteps through antiquity and how they may have lived their lives. It can be even more exciting if you happen to come across a strange item in your back garden when you were getting ready to plant some flowers. What could this mean and what should you do?
How to Proceed Carefully
It's not unusual for people to come across strange artefacts buried in the ground, but it can be very difficult for the untrained eye to tell whether they have any worth or not. The best course of action in this case is to get in touch with an archaeologist.
Try not to disturb the area more than you need to and don't be tempted to take the item out of the ground to 'clean it off' before taking photographs. By all means, take a photograph in situ and then send that as an email attachment to the archaeologist or archaeology consulting group you find. If you can, provide some protection for the item if you have recently exposed it to the elements and before the archaeologist has a chance to have a look at it.
Initial Research and Visit
If this has piqued the interest at the expert's office, you can expect a visit so the archaeologist can take a good look at the artefact in its original position. They will probably do some research before scheduling a visit to see if anything else interesting has been found in the vicinity or to determine what they know about the area in general. Archives often contain old maps or records that relate to communities that may have existed in the past in your general area.
What May Happen
It may be necessary to carry out further excavation in order to reveal what else is there. This is only done very carefully and not before recording whatever is in existence now, before the work starts. It's also possible that the archaeologist will use a technique known as remote sensing, which allows exploration of the site without any wholesale disturbance. Sensors will be introduced into the ground that will reveal the existence of something unusual, especially man-made. They use methods such as radar or magnetometry in order to gather this data. If this process reveals something even more interesting, then a much wider exploration may be called for.
If you suspect that you may have found something of great interest, get in touch with a qualified archaeologist for further advice before proceeding.