Time Team: Young Indiana Jones-style brothers unearth historic artefacts in Greatham back garden

Jacob and Joshua Hunter with their collection of bottles from the 1800s which they found buried in their garden.
Jacob and Joshua Hunter with their collection of bottles from the 1800s which they found buried in their garden.
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THESE two budding Indiana Joneses want information on several potentially historic artefacts they dug up in their back garden.

Jacob and Joshua Hunter unearthed a collection of glass bottles, which could date back to the 1800s, in the back garden of their home in High Street, Greatham Village.

Jacob and Joshua Hunter at the spot in their garden where they found the 'treasure'.

Jacob and Joshua Hunter at the spot in their garden where they found the 'treasure'.

Five of the bottles had letters embossed in the glass, which on one side read, “Bromley Coffee Essence”, and on the other, “Bloomsbury Works Leeds”.

Checks on the internet saw the coffee essence mentioned in an archive from a Royal College of Nursing document dated August 1, 1896, on Bottle Digging UK for antique bottle finds, and also several being sold by others who have found them on Etsy, a website selling vintage items.

Their mum Felicity, a reporter for the Mail, said: “I’d been digging on that patch of mud myself a few weeks ago to tidy it up and found a couple of old animal bones, so I suggested to the boys that we be ‘archaeologists’ and see what else we could find. Me and my sister used to love doing it when we were kids.

“Jacob said he would do it but Joshua was not keen at all and was saying it would be ‘boring’ – that is until after digging a hole maybe 2ft down, I dug up a perfect unchipped glass bottle.

It’d be great to find out more about them, and even why they were all buried there.

Felicity Collinson, Jacob and Joshua’s mum

“Their eyes lit up and they started rubbing the mud off to see what the letters read.

“That was it they were hooked! I loosened up the ground with the spade and then they would dig in with their little trowels. We got eight in the end, of which four of them had the little glass stoppers intact.”

The 34-year-old added: “The kids were totally buzzing and each time we found one, and they were running to show our neighbour over the garden fence. We all had a look on the internet and this coffee essence in the bottles was around in the late 1800s and early 20th century.

“We couldn’t believe that we had found something potentially so old, and that it was still in quite good condition. Some of the bottles even had the little glass stoppers in the top still. Maybe they aren’t as old as that. It’d be great to find out more about them, and even why they were all buried there. It’s strange.”

Jacob and Joshua Hunter at the spot in their garden where they found the 'treasure'.

Jacob and Joshua Hunter at the spot in their garden where they found the 'treasure'.

The boys also found a perfect little white pot, along with more animal bones and other broken bits of crockery.

Anyone with information, or readers who have also unearthed similar historical artefacts, can contact Felicity on (01429) 239326.

Coffee essence dates back to 1896

THE family’s research on the internet found that the coffee essence was mentioned in an archive from a Royal College of Nursing document dated August 1, 1896.

Jacob and Joshua Hunter with their collection of bottles from the 1800's which they found buried in their garden.

Jacob and Joshua Hunter with their collection of bottles from the 1800's which they found buried in their garden.

The document, called The Nursing Record and Hospital World, reads: “A new preparation which has been brought to our notice, and known as Bromley’s Coffee Essence, will doubtless become popular amongst nurses.

“It’s analysis proves that it only contains the best coffee and chicory, and the aroma of the former berry is easily distinguishable.

“The great advantages of the preparation, beyond its purity, is the facility with which it can be prepared and its cheapness.

“One or two teaspoonfuls of the essence, with sugar and milk to taste, make, with boiling water, a most delicious breakfast-cup of coffee.

“It can be obtained from Messrs, Bromley, Bloomsbury Works, Leeds, or from any grocers.”

A close-up of one of the bottles form the 1800s found buried in a garden in Greatham.

A close-up of one of the bottles form the 1800s found buried in a garden in Greatham.

The bottles from the 1800s, and a collection of bones and pieces of pottery found by Jacob and Joshua Hunter in their garden in Greatham.

The bottles from the 1800s, and a collection of bones and pieces of pottery found by Jacob and Joshua Hunter in their garden in Greatham.