Largest Anglo-Saxon coin hoard tops list of latest nationwide treasure finds

Published: 3 years ago Author:

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On the occasion of the launch of the Treasure Annual Report 2012 by Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture, at the British Museum, the largest Anglo Saxon coin hoard found since the Treasure Act began is announced. This amazing archaeological hoard of around 5,200 coins was discovered in the village of Lenborough, Buckinghamshire. This discovery highlights the ongoing importance of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure Act in ensuring that the most important finds are secured for the nation.

The coins were found wrapped in a lead sheet and buried in the ground for safekeeping. The coins are of Æthelred II (978-1016) and Cnut (1016-35), and were buried towards the end of Cnut's reign. The lead wrapping provided protection against the elements while the hoard was in the ground, with the result that the coins are very well preserved. The hoard contains coins from over forty different mints around England, and provides a rare source of information on the circulation of coinage at the time the hoard was buried.

Under the Treasure Act 1996 there is a legal obligation for finders to report Treasure. Since the advent of the Act the number of finds reported has increased fivefold from 201 cases in 1998 (the first full year of the Act) to 993 in 2013, and 1008 in 2014. If declared Treasure such finds may be acquired by museums, with preference going to the local museum. Of the 990 finds reported Treasure in 2012, 368 were acquired by 100 local museums, so they can be displayed to the public close to where the items were discovered. These include the Bedale, North Yorkshire Hoard ofViking jewellery, weaponry and ingots (2012 T373; YORYM-CEE620) acquired by York Museums Trust, and a Roman silver bracelet from Dalton area, Cumbria (2012 T627; PAS-A7DC11) acquired by the Dock Museum.

Increasingly finders and landowners have waived their right to a reward, enabling museums to acquire Treasure at reduced or no cost. In 2012, 137 parties waived their right to a reward in 93 cases; more than double the number of cases five years ago. Museums have also benefited from funding being made available through the Art Fund, the Headley Trust, The Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, andthe V&A Purchase Grant fund, which all funded museum acquisitions of Treasure in 2012.

In Room 2 at the British Museum a case is dedicated to displaying recent finds recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme or reported Treasure. This allows interesting and important discoveries to be seen in London before they are acquired by local museums.

Another case in Room 68, the Citi Money Gallery, is also often used to display recent finds reported through Treasure and the Portable Antiquities Scheme. A new display of a selection of coins from the Lenborough hoard opens on February 10 to coincide with the launch of the Treasure Annual Report. This will provide some public access to the hoard while it is going through the Treasure process.

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum:

'The publication of the latest Treasure Report demonstrates the important contribution the Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme have made to our understanding of Britain's history and in supporting collections around the country. More Treasure finds are being reported than ever before and unique objects are documented and conserved for study and public display, such as the recent find of the largest Anglo-Saxon coin hoard recorded since the Treasure Act of 1996. These achievements are a testament to the network of Finds Liaison Officers, who play a key role in ensuring archaeological finds found by the public are properly reported and recorded. It is particularly welcome that, due to the generosity of funding bodies and individual supporters, many of these finds are being acquired by local museums.

Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, said:

'I'd especially like to thank the finders and landowners who have graciously waived their right to a reward so that local museums can acquire Treasure. It is an initiative that the Government has been keen to support, and it demonstrates that metal-detectorists have a genuine interest in the past, and are not just interested in archaeology for personal gain '.

Finds on Display at the British Museum's Launch of the Treasure Annual Report

Anglo-Saxon Coin Hoard from Lenborough, Buckinghamshire (2014 T973; BUC-7FE6F2): Around 5200 Anglo-Saxon silver pennies, and two cut half pennies, of kings Æthelred II (r.978-1016) and Cnut (r.1016-35), found within a lead parcel. The hoard was discovered on a metal-detecting rally, and recovered under the guidance of the local Finds Liaison Officer. This important find will reveal a great deal about monetary circulation in late Anglo-Saxon England.

Finder Paul Coleman said,

'When I saw the first few coins I was really excited because I knew I had found a hoard, however the excitement grew and grew as the size and importance of the find became apparent. Ros Tyrrell, the FLO who was in charge of the excavation, was spot on when she said "now I know a little of what Egyptologist Howard Carter must have felt, when he first looked into the tomb of Tutankhamen."'

Chair of Buckinghamshire County Museum Trustees Bob Sutcliffe, said

"This is an incredible find for Buckinghamshire, and a unique opportunity for us to learn more about the origins of Buckinghamshire in Anglo-Saxon times. It would be fantastic to be able to show people that we have nationally important finds being discovered here. Someone in the now tiny village of Lenborough had stasheda massive amount of money, almost 1,000 years ago, and we want to know who, and why! We're awaiting the official declaration of Treasure and final valuation, before we decide if we are going to try and acquire this hoard - fundraising for such an important find would be a major project for our recently formed Bucks County Museum Trust, but it will give us the chance to try and involve the public on a new scale, and get them really excited about their heritage."

Bronze Age Bracelet Hoard from Wollaston, Gloucestershire (2013 T805; GLO-E9EC16):Eight gold bracelets nested together in three groups, probably belonging to a child, and featuring unique decoration. They date to c.1400-c.1100 BC. The British Museum hopes to acquire.

Bronze Age Lunula from Tarrant Valley, Dorset (2014 T257; DOR-2198F8):Gold neck ornament, much more common in Ireland than in Britain. Dating from c.2100-c.1400 BC. Dorset County Museum hopes to acquire.

Viking Hoard from West Coast of Cumbria (2014 T518; LANCUM-FA14C8): A total of 19 silver objects including ingots and fragments of arm rings, dating from AD C9th to C10th. The Beacon Museum hopes to acquire.

Post-medieval reliquary cross from Skellow, South Yorkshire (2013 T807; SWYOR-7346E4):Gold reliquary containing possible relic dating to the C17th or early C18th. It probably belonged to recusants living in Yorkshire. Doncaster Museum hopes to acquire.

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Comments

There are 2 comments on this story.

  • Paul Barford wrote @ 09:43:46 on the 10th February 2015.

    If the PAS FLO was on the site at the time of discovery of the Lenborough Hoard why was the site not secured and then excavated properly (as the Code of Practice of the Treasure Act lays down) instead of being hoiked out by the finders by dusk? What chance is there from a pile of decontextualised coins of ever knowing who had "stashed a massive amount of money, and why"? The mission of the PAS is to discourage such hasty hoiking by finders to allow archaeological finds to be studied in context and it is disappointing to see this find not being used here to get that message across to the finders and general public.

  • Andy Hawkins wrote @ 20:33:33 on the 12th March 2015.

    I do wonder how on earth such a valuable find such as this can be valued? To me it would be priceless and I can not wait to view the coins :) The pure thought of history and how they came to be there will indeed intrigue for a long time.

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