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Suffolk: Dallinghoo gold hoard set to stay at Ipswich Museum after £300,000 boost

09:00 21 June 2011

One of the Iron Age coins discovered at Dallinghoo, near Wickham Market, which will now be on display Ipswich Museum.

One of the Iron Age coins discovered at Dallinghoo, near Wickham Market, which will now be on display Ipswich Museum.

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ONE of the most significant archaeological discoveries found in Suffolk soil is set to remain the county, it can be revealed today.

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The 840 Iron Age coins - unearthed at Dallinghoo, near Wickham Market - will go on display at Ipswich Museum.

Bosses have managed to raise the £300,000 needed to keep the hoard, which dates back to a time before Britain fell under the influence of the Roman Empire.

It has been made possible thanks to a series of grants, including £225,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £40,000 from the Art Fund.

A further £20,000 has come from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Purchase Grant Fund and sums of £10,000 from the Headley Trust, the Friends of Ipswich Museum and The Jennings Bequest.

The coins are the largest and most complete Iron Age gold hoard in existence and will now be kept in Suffolk and preserved for future generations.

They were made about 2,000 years ago by the Iceni tribe whose tribal territory covered Norfolk, north Suffolk and parts of Cambridgeshire.

Bryony Rudkin, Ipswich Borough Council’s culture portfolio-holder, said: “This is a truly huge boost, not only for the museums service but for the people of Ipswich, Suffolk and beyond who will now be able to see and learn more about this staggering find.

“It will prove to be a big visitor attraction for the town and I look forward to it going on display, not only here but around the region.”

Caroline McDonald, curator of archaeology at Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service, added: “I am delighted that a national treasure found in Suffolk soil will be kept in the county.

“The Iceni people buried their gold and kept it safe for 2,000 years – now Ipswich Museum is proud to take up the responsibility for keeping it safe for years to come.”

Local people will be able to get directly involved in the care for the hoard, with volunteers working alongside professional staff in supervised conservation activities.

A young people’s group will help develop alternative interpretations of the collection, while local school children will be invited to take part in a creative writing competition.

Meanwhile Norwich Castle Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge will also host a touring exhibition of the coins. The hoard - valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee at £300,000 - was discovered in March 2008 and led to a bitter legal battle lasting almost two years.

It was eventually decided that landowner Cliff Green should receive 50% of the find value, with the rest split between Michael Darke, who originally made the discovery, and former friend Keith Lewis, who helped him recover the full hoard.

Mr Darke has, however, said he will fight the decision, believing that he should receive £150,000 because he was the initial finder of the treasure.

However, Mr Lewis said it is a fair result and claimed that he had found the bulk of the coins.

Mr Darke initially found nine gold coins while searching a 30-acre field alone. The weather conditions were poor, so he decided to return the following day. But before returning he enlisted the help of Mr Lewis.

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