Campaign to rename Mildenhall Treasure is launched

PUBLISHED: 19:00 30 January 2019 | UPDATED: 10:12 31 January 2019

The Mildenhall Treasure 


The Mildenhall Treasure Picture: BRITISH MUSEUM

A campaign has been launched to rename an iconic Roman Britain treasure haul after the Suffolk village where it was found.

Ruth Bowman, chairman of Mildenhall Parish Council Picture: SUBMITTEDRuth Bowman, chairman of Mildenhall Parish Council Picture: SUBMITTED

The Mildenhall Treasure, a large hoard of Roman silver vessels from the fourth century AD, was discovered by a farmer in January, 1942.

But the famous collection of 34 Roman silver masterpieces was not found in Mildenhall, it was discovered three miles away in the neighbouring village of West Row.

Around 60 people have now signed a petition to rebrand the popular haul – which is displayed at the British Museum – the West Row Treasure.

Campaigner John Smith, who started the petition, said: “Mildenhall has really marketed itself on this, but it’s really our history.

The Great Dish from the Mildenhall Treasure Picture: BRITISH MUSEUMThe Great Dish from the Mildenhall Treasure Picture: BRITISH MUSEUM

“We just want it attributed to us and the correct place it was found.

“It’s a small community here and everyone in the village knows someone involved in the find.”

West Row will form its own parish council in May after a reorganisation was agreed by Forest Heath District Council last year.

The new parish council, which will represent community issues in planning applications, management of parks and play areas and public toilet facilities, will feature nine councillors.

Mr Smith, who is shadow parish council chairman and chairman of the West Row Action Group, added: “For us, it’s kind of overdue.

“There have always been mutterings about it from people in the community saying ‘it’s our treasure’ but when our own parish was rubberstamped we thought this was a chance to do something about it.

“We could have signs in the village as people come in ‘West Row – home of the West Row Treasure’, everyone in the village is behind it.”

Ruth Bowman, district councillor and Mildenhall Parish Council chairman, said: “I think it is a matter for West Row.

“It was a historic event and it was named appropriately following whatever protocol was in place at the time.

“But times change and boundaries change and if there is enough public feeling about it then it is up to West Row to make the case for it.”

Stephanie Palmer, chairman of trustees at Mildenhall and District Museum, which houses a replica of the collection, said: “Mildenhall Parish was the largest ecclesiastical parish in Suffolk and encompassed Kenny Hill, Beck Row, Holywell Row, West Row and Mildenhall High Town.

“Mildenhall Rural District Council covered the same parishes plus other villages.

“When the treasure was named it was rightly named The Mildenhall treasure not Mildenhall High Town Treasure.

“All academic literature and The British Museum refer to the Mildenhall Treasure and are unlikely to rename it and also will the air base be renamed and if so Beck Row or West Row?”

The story goes that farmer Gordon Butcher was ploughing land owned by Fred Rolfe in West Row when he had to stop after encountering a large obstacle.

He called his boss Sydney Ford for help and together they retrieved the items.

Ford took the pieces home and cleaned them, his grandson later recalling using the great Roman dish as a Christmas fruit bowl.

It was not until antiquarian Dr Hugh Fawcett encountered the objects that their significance was realised and Ford was persuaded to seek the advice of the British Museum.

The story of the find has been immortalised in Roald Dahl’s short story, The Mildenhall Treasure.

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