When a Fleetwood archaeology student started her first week at university, little did she know what she was about to unearth.
Katie Ballam, 18, of Macbeth Road, was out with a team of first year students at the University of Central Lancashire when she took part in a dig and struck the find of her life.
The students revisited the site of an earlier dig in Ribchester and among the hoard of finds were many pieces of pottery, a small copper alloy brooch pin and a coin dating from the 4th Century AD.
But the premier find was a piece of Second Century pottery featuring a bird, possibly an eagle, attacking what looked like a hare and also decorated with the figure of a cherub and a tree.
A delighted Katie said she had not known what it was, thinking at first her find looked like a bit of brick.
She said: “Then I was excited, really excited.”
Tutor Dr Jim Morris, who led the dig with colleague Dr Duncan Sayer, said: “Our university course is very practical.
“This was the first week of their degree – it gives them a good taste of archaeology.”
He said rather than be in the classroom just talking about a Roman road the attitude is ‘Let’s find one’. “And we did,” he added.
As for Katie’s find, Dr Morris said: “This is Samian ware from the Second Century AD – this was in effect the Wedgwood of the Roman period.
“This might be from Gaul or France imported into Britain and turned up in Ribchester.”
Katie, who attended Fleetwood High School and Blackpool Sixth said she has always been interested in history and said she is really enjoying the course.
“I’m hoping eventually to find a job which will keep me digging, it’s quite exciting.
Regarding the coin, which is thought to date from the Constantine era, Dr Morris added: “You can just about make out the letters. There were some modern pieces and a fair amount of fragments of different types of Roman pottery as well.”