The Fenwick Treasure

This week marks five years since the discovery of a hoard of fine gold and silver Roman jewellery that lay hidden under the floors of a department store on Colchester’s High Street for nearly 2000 years.

The hoard included amongst the jewellery, coins of the Republic era, most of which were silver and had been kept in a small bag, as well as the remains of a wooden jewellery box and a silver jewellery box.

The jewellery found as part of the Fenwick Hoard
Rights Holder: Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service 
CC License: All Rights Reserved

The treasure was found on the 20th August 2014 during the last week of excavations at Williams and Griffin department store undertaken by Colchester Archaeological Trust. Adam Wightman, who was supervisor of the site, discovered the treasure which is believed to have been buried in a pit beneath the floor of a house that once stood in the place of the department store. As it was discovered beneath the Boudican destruction debris, the layer of burnt material from the time of the revolt against the Romans, it is believed that the hoard was concealed on receipt of the news of the imminent arrival of the British tribal warriors before the house was destroyed by fire.

The jewellery contents of the hoard include gold armlets, silver bracelets, a silver chain, a copper-alloy amulet necklace, gold finger rings, gold and pearl earrings, and a glass intaglio. A recurring motif among the jewellery is that of a panther which offers a possible connection to the name of the owners who are believed to have been both male and female. Along with the coins and containers, the jewellery objects have been identified as being manufactured in Italy, the date of which predates their burial by more than a generation.

As the hoard contained more than ten pieces, some of which were precious metals and all of which were over 300 years old, the objects within qualified as treasure and the hoard subsequently went on display at Colchester Museum. 

The record for the hoard can be viewed here: https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/634263