Frome Hoard of Roman coins saved for nation

Published: Monday 21st March 2011 Author:

The Frome Hoard in situNational Heritage Memorial Fund steps in to close the Art Fund and Museum of Somerset's campaign to secure the Frome Hoard.

Today, the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) is delighted to announce a grant of £294,026 to the Museum of Somerset that will ensure the Frome Hoard will remain in Somerset, where it was discovered. A total of £320,250 was needed to keep Britain's largest collection of silver and bronze Roman coins ever to be unearthed in a single container in Somerset. A further £100,000 has also been raised for its conservation.

News of the NHMF grant marks the end of an intensive fundraising campaign led by the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for works of art, which kick-started the appeal in November 2010 with a grant of £40,250. Members of public generously donated £13,657, which the Art Fund matched with a further £10,000 through its first ever match funding appeal. The acquisition was also made possible thanks to funding from the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Headley Trust, one of the Sainsbury Family charitable trusts, and other generous donations.

Heritage Minister, John Penrose, said: "Making sure the Frome Hoard stays in Britain is great news, but ensuring it can stay in the very county in which it was discovered is even better. The fantastic work of all the organisations involved including the NHMF, along with the generosity of the public, will mean an important part of our Roman heritage will be enjoyed for years to come."

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of NHMF, said:

"What fantastic news. This is exactly the kind of precious heritage the National Heritage Memorial Fund was set-up 31 years ago to protect. This glorious collection is a truly inspirational discovery which has captured the public's imagination. I am delighted we have been able to step in with the final piece of the jigsaw, to ensure it can be enjoyed by future generations."

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said:

"We are thrilled that the campaign to save the Frome Hoard has been a success. The Roman coins will go on display in Somerset and provide experts with the opportunity to carry out vital research. Most importantly it will mean that generations can learn, enjoy and be inspired by the coins. It is very much thanks to the generosity of members of the public that we were able to double donations through our match-funding appeal. I'd also like to thank the National Heritage Memorial Fund for making the success of this appeal possible. This is an example of private and public funds coming together to save important heritage items."

The Frome Hoard is the second largest collection of Roman coins ever to be found in Britain and the largest ever to have been found in one single container. Comprising 52,503 coins dating between 253 and 293 AD, they cover the issues of 26 different Roman emperors and some have never been seen before.

Over 760 of the coins belong to the reign of Marcus Aurelius Mauseus Valerius Carausius, known as Britain's Pirate Emperor. Carausius led a revolt against the Empire declaring himself Emperor of Britain and Northern Gaul. This is the largest group of his coins found anywhere.

Along with the unprecedented potential to broaden the understanding of life in 3rd century Roman Britain, this Hoard also challenges the assumption that finds of this nature were buried in order to secure them in uncertain times. The coins were buried at a time of relative peace, in a large fragile pottery container with a smaller pot upturned on top serving as a lid. Nothing suggests this is a practical way to hide money and experts believe that several large 'hoards' of the past will now need to be re-examined to see if their burial is suggestive of ritualistic behaviour rather than concealment.

Stephen Minnitt, Head of the Museum of Somerset said:

"The Frome Hoard has received a tremendous amount of public interest locally and from around the world and I am delighted that the campaign to acquire it was successful. Timing is perfect as we prepare for the opening of the Museum of Somerset in the summer of 2011. The story will not end there however. As the hoard undergoes study over the next year or two many more of its secrets will be unlocked."

The Frome Hoard was discovered by metal detectorist, Dave Crisp near Frome near Somerset last April. Following conservation, the collection will go on permanent display at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton, when it reopens in the summer of 2011 following a £6.9million refurbishment.

For further press information and images, please contact:

Natasha Ley/Alison Scott, NHMF Press Office, 020 7591 6143 or natashal@hlf.org.uk or Lizzie Bloom, Press & Campaigns Manager, the Art Fund,0207 225 4804 or lbloom@artfund.org

Notes to Editors

Funding breakdown

  • Acquisition costs £320,250
  • Conservation costs £105,000
  • National Heritage Memorial Fund£294,026
  • Somerset Museum £10,000
  • Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society £10,000
  • MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund £20,000
  • The Headley Trust £20,000
  • Art Fund £50,250
  • Other donations £10,408
  • Public fundraising, led by the Art Fund £13,657

National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF)

The National Heritage Memorial Fund was set up to save the most outstanding parts of our national heritage, in memory of those who have given their lives for the UK. NHMF currently receives annual grant-in-aid from the Government of £10million. It is due to receive £20million between 2011-15. www.nhmf.org.uk

The Frome Hoard joins a diverse range of over 1,200 iconic objects and places which have been safeguarded by the NHMF to the tune of over £300million. These include:

  • The Coenwulf Coin
  • The Macclesfield Psalter
  • The Mappa Mundi
  • The Staffordshire Hoard
  • The Milton Keynes Pot of Gold
  • The Mary Rose
  • The Flying Scotsman
  • The last surviving World War II destroyer, HMS Cavalier
  • Antonio Canova's The Three Graces
  • The personal archive of Siegfried Sassoon, WWI soldier, author and poet.
  • Skokholm Island, Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Pembrokeshire

Museum of Somerset

The Frome Hoard will be prominently displayed in the Museum of Somerset, Taunton, when it re-opens in the Summer of 2011. The museum is presently undergoing a £6.9 million refurbishment largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Locally, support for the hoard's acquisition has been shown by a contribution of £10,000 from the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society.

Contact Stephen Minnitt, Head of Museum 07917 837521. Email: scminnitt@somerset.gov.uk

The Art Fund

The Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for works of art and plays a major part in enriching the range and quality of art on public display in the UK. It campaigns, fundraises and gives money to museums and galleries to buy and show art, and offers many ways of enjoying it through its events and membership scheme. Under its programme of charitable activity, initiatives include sponsoring the UK tour of the ARTIST ROOMS collection so that it reaches several million people across the UK each year, and fundraising: two recently successful campaigns include bringing in £6 million to save the Staffordshire Hoard for the West Midlands and Pieter Brueghel the Younger's The Procession to Calvary for Nostell Priory, in partnership with the National Trust. The Art Fund is funded entirely by its art-loving and museum-going members and supporters who believe that great art should be for everyone to enjoy. Find out more at www.artfund.org. Press contact | 020 7225 4888 | media@artfund.org

Portable Antiquities Scheme

The Portable Antiquities Scheme was established to encourage the recording of archaeological finds found by the public, and also supports the mandatory reporting of Treasure (such as the Frome Hoard) under the Treasure Act 1996. The Scheme is managed by the British Museum on behalf of the Museums, Libraries & Archives Council. Across England and Wales its Finds Liaison Officers liaise with finders and record their finds, which are published on its online database (www.finds.org.uk) so that people can learn about the archaeology of their local area, and also for the advancement of archaeological knowledge.

Contact Roger Bland, Head of Portable Antiquities and Treasure, 020 7323 8611 or 0898 966 9414; e-mail: rbland@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk

MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund

The MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund is a government fund that helps regional museums, record offices and specialist libraries in England and Wales to acquire objects relating to the arts, literature and history. It was established at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in 1881 and continues to be part of its nationwide work. The annual grants budget, currently £900,000, is provided by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).Each year, the Purchase Grant Fund considers some 250 applications and awards grants to around 100 organisations, enabling acquisitions of around £3 million to go ahead.

Visit the website: www.vam.ac.uk/purchasegrantfund

Contact: Roger Bland 02073238611

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