Museum wants to buy Dallinghoo Gold

MUSEUM curators want to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds to keep the stunning Iron Age gold coin hoard unearthed in a Suffolk field within the county.

John Howard

MUSEUM curators want to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds to keep the stunning Iron Age gold coin hoard unearthed in a Suffolk field within the county.

Ipswich Museum is launching a fundraising campaign to raise the cash to keep the Dallinghoo Gold locally, in a move backed by the metal detector enthusiast who discovered what is being hailed as one of the most exciting archaeological finds on record.

Caroline McDonald, curator of archaeology, believes the coins found in a field near Woodbridge should be available for local people to see.

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If successful the move could provide a major boost to the county's tourism as visitors flock to see the treasure of 824 gold staters dating from 40BC to AD15, found in a broken pottery jar.

The hoard from before the birth of Christ, which could be worth in the region of �577,000, have turned out to be one of the largest and most spectacular finds of its kind in Britain.

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Ms McDonald said that when an inquest officially declares the find treasure, the museum will officially announce its desire to buy them.

She said: “At that point we will out all our gears into action to save this hoard for Suffolk people and we are optimistic. We will do all within our power to get them into the museum and have already started talking through a plan of action and an approach.

“There are a number of funding bodies we will approach, and will build a case, and hope the funders will realise why it is so important not to see them go on the market. It is important to keep them locally.

“These are Suffolk treasures, they should be enjoyed by people who live here and who visit, showcasing what a rich and diverse history we have in the county.

“It has not yet been officially valued, and will go for an official independent valuation, but I would not be surprised if it runs into hundreds of thousands of pounds.”

The man who found the treasure, who is keen to preserve his anonymity and gives his first name only as Michael, also believes they should go on display locally.

Michael, who is 60 and lives near Woodbridge, said: “I would like to see them in Ipswich Museum, where people can see them. If they go up to London it's a lot of messing about for locals to go up and see them there.”

The coins are currently at the British Museum in London where they are being assessed and a report is due to be presented to a coroner to discover if they are treasure trove, and then may be acquired by a museum, or museums.

Cliff Green, 66, ho owns the land with his brother where the hoard was found in Dallinghoo, said he too hoped the hoard will find its way into a museum.

The coins are thought to have been minted by predecessors of Boudica - the Iceni Queen who spearheaded a revolt against occupying Roman forces.

Their value when in circulation had been estimated at a modern equivalent of between �500,000 and �1million by Suffolk archaeologists. In today's money it is thought they would be worth �700 each in excellent condition - making a haul of �577,500 for the hoard.

PANEL: WHAT happens now?

N An inquest will be held to formally decide if the find is treasure and Ipswich Museum will be approached to see if they wish to buy the gold hoard, and has first option to acquire it as the local museum.

N Once curators officially declare their interest the haul then goes before an independent valuation committee made up of auctioneers and archaeologists, to asses its value on today's market place.

N The museum then has to raise the money and pay the finder and the landowner, who usually receive a 50/50 split unless there is a prior agreement otherwise. Staff say it is a long process and will be months before they even have to start fundraising.

N If they fail to raise the cash, the gold is returned to the finder and can be sold on, or kept.

N The British Museum also has the right to pull rank for finds of huge importance, and at Ipswich they are hoping their London colleagues will support their local bid. Failing that, there may be an agreement to split the hoard and share it between London and Ipswich.

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