Currently on display in the Portable Antiquities & Treasure case in Gallery 41 of the British Museum is a selection of coins belonging to a hoard which represents the largest collection of Iron Age gold coins found since the mid-19th century. The selection of 50 coins accounts for only a small fraction (6%) of the entire hoard, which has 840 coins in total.
The Wickham Market (Suffolk) hoard was found in the Spring of 2008 by two metal detectorists, who also found the base and body parts of a wheel thrown ceramic jar. After identification and cataloguing by the Iron Age curator, Ian Leins, it was concluded that the majority of the coins were struck between 40BC- 15BC. This is a period of time linked with perhaps one of the best known tribes of Celtic Britain, the Iceni. The Iceni tribe occupied the area of Norfolk and Suffolk and were immortalised after being led by Boudica in a large scale revolt against the Roman legions.
Following the reporting of the hoard archaeologists from the Suffolk County Council Archaeological service were given the opportunity to excavate the site. This allowed them the chance to assess the area of deposition and investigate for other possible features. Topsoil excavation revealed that the coins were scattered a short distance from the original burial spot. An additional 52 coins were uncovered and the archaeologists were able to make several conclusions: that the location of the hoard conforms to other sites in Norfolk, where gold items have been found buried on high ground; that the site has a continuing phase of activity up to the end of the Roman period; and although tribal affinities in the area remain complex, it is believed that the coins, due to their contemporary value, may have been deposited as part of a ritual practice . In terms of qualifying as Treasure under the Treasure Act 1996 the find is clearly a single find, confirmed by the discovery of pot sherds of a contemporary date.
The Treasure Valuation Committee has recommended a valuation of £300,000 approved by the Secretary of State and agreed by all interested parties. From May 2011 Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service will also be displaying a selection of coins to begin its monumental task of raising the funds towards the acquisition of this find. The fundraising campaign will be a testament to an incredibly important discovery for this area of the country.