HAVE you ever been digging around in the garden and come across some old pottery or coins and wanted to know more about them?

Well, if you have, then you can turn to Oxfordshire's very own Lara Croft, Anni Byard, pictured, who has taken on the job of being the county's new roaming archaeologist.

Working as the finds liaison officer for Oxfordshire, she will be on hand to meet people who have found buried treasures.

As part of a national scheme, she will have access to hundreds of experts in museums around the country, and will record finds for posterity.

Miss Byard said: "Lots of things that people find tend to disappear into garages or cupboards under the stairs, so we just want people to rummage things out and get in touch.

"Everything that we get brought to us we record and give back to the people — that is unless its a real treasure, in which case we would ask to be able to exhibit it perhaps.

"Oxfordshire has a long and rich history, ranging from early prehistoric stone age right through to the medieval period, so it covers almost 10,000 years."

And having been on the job for a couple of weeks, she has said she has already encountered one artifact that dates back to 3,000 BC.

She said: "It was a flint arrow head that someone had found. Things like that show the whole scope of the thousands and thousands of years of history we are dealing with.

Speaking about her love of archaeology, Miss Byard said growing up in Oxfordshire had given her a rich understanding of the importance of history.

She said: "I think growing up where I did, you see history everywhere, and of course, Indiana Jones may have had something to do with it.

"I started working on archaeological digs, and now I get to go out and meet with people who have found new and exciting things — every day is different."

Miss Byard said she hoped to form strong links with metal detectors' clubs, and will be holding special surgeries in museums throughout the county. She said: "Of course it would be amazing to find something rare and priceless, but I like everything really, I'm not fussy."

Anyone who has found an artifact can contact Miss Byard on 01865 300557, or e-mail Anni.Byard@Oxfordshire.gov.uk For the rest of the year, monthly find surgeries will be at: Banbury Museum, on the first Tuesday of every month between 10.30am and 4.30pm.

The Oxfordshire Museum, in Woodstock, on the first Wednesday of the month, from 2pm to 4pm.

From January, they will also take place at: The Museum of Oxford, St Aldate's, on the first Friday of the month from 10am to noon.

The Vale and Downland Museum, in Wantage, on the second Tuesday of the month, between noon and 3.30pm.