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Suffolk ‘third best place in UK’ to find archaeological treasures, survey shows

PUBLISHED: 17:25 18 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:25 18 August 2020

The silver ring, which dates back to 200-300AD, was discovered by metal detectorist Kevin Cracknell in a field near Cretingham in 2017 PIcture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

The silver ring, which dates back to 200-300AD, was discovered by metal detectorist Kevin Cracknell in a field near Cretingham in 2017 PIcture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

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A new survey has revealed that Suffolk is the third best place in the UK for aspiring archaeologists to find hidden treasure.

This map shows the areas with the highest numbers of archaeological finds, using data from the Portable Antiquities Scheme Picture: METALS4UThis map shows the areas with the highest numbers of archaeological finds, using data from the Portable Antiquities Scheme Picture: METALS4U

The research found that, nationally, an estimated 44,000 discoveries are reported every year, averaging out at 120 per day.

More than 3,000 discoveries have been made in Suffolk since June 2019, and the county was found to be the best place for Roman artefacts. Norfolk took the top spot, with 6,500 finds in the same period.

The survey was carried out by online metals retailer metals4U, using information from the Portable Antiquities Scheme, a project run by the British Museum which records archaeological objects found by the public.

It comes just weeks after metal detectorist Luke Mahoney unearthed the “biggest haul of his life” in July, discovering more than 1,000 silver coins estimated to be worth £100,000 near the Lindsey Rose pub, after the landowners granted them permission. They unearthed 1,061 silver hammered coins dating back to somewhere in the 15th to the 17th century, according to experts.

Luke Mahoney and his friends discovered silver coins near a Suffolk pub in July Picture: MINELAB METAL DETECTORSLuke Mahoney and his friends discovered silver coins near a Suffolk pub in July Picture: MINELAB METAL DETECTORS

MORE: Civil-war era coins worth £100,000 found in field behind pub

Suffolk is famed for its Anglo-Saxon heritage, but the survey showed it was especially rich in finds from the Roman period, with more than 1,500 objects found from that era in the past year.

These included a copper ring and a folding knife that could date back to 43AD, when Emperor Claudius ordered four legions to conquer Britain.

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According to the survey, the 10 regions with the most treasure discoveries in the past 12 months were: Norfolk - 6,527; Leicestershire - 4,101; Suffolk - 3,105; Lincolnshire - 2,650; Hampshire - 2,006; Wiltshire - 1,689; Oxfordshire - 1,647; North Yorkshire - 1,508; East Riding of Yorkshire - 1,322; Somerset - 1,209.

This axe from around 4000-2351 BC is of a type frequently found on beaches in Suffolk and Norfolk Picture: NORFOLK COUNTY COUNCILThis axe from around 4000-2351 BC is of a type frequently found on beaches in Suffolk and Norfolk Picture: NORFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Paul McFadyen, managing director of metals4U, said: “It’s incredible to see the number and variety of discoveries in the past 12 months, from as far back as 4,000BC and throughout the ages.”

MORE: East Anglia is one of the best places to metal detect in the world

Famous finds made in Suffolk over the years include the Hoxne hoard, the biggest hoard of late Roman silver and gold found in Britain, found by metal detectorist Eric Lawes in Hoxne in 1992, the Mildenhall treasure, a large hoard of Roman silver vessels of the fourth century AD found at West Row in 1942, and the Wickham Market hoard, where 840 Iron Age gold staters (a kind of coin) were found in a field in nearby Dallinghoo in 2008.

A more recent interesting find was made in 2017, when Suffolk metal detectorist Kevin Cracknell found a Roman silver ring in a field near Cretingham.

And of course, the county’s most famous find of all was the ship burial site at Sutton Hoo, discovered in 1939, soon to be featured in forthcoming film The Dig.

Although East Anglia is known as one of the best places in the world to go metal detecting, it isn’t simply just a case of heading off and going where you like. All land in the UK is owned, and prior permission must be granted by a landowner before any metal detecting is carried out.

Earlier this year, police warned that treasure hunting by illegal metal detectorists, known as “nighthawkers”, is threatening Suffolk’s heritage and could lead to the loss of important historical artefacts.

Before a metal detectorist can search for treasure, they must obtain permission from the landowner and the tenant. Any treasure discovered is the property of the landowner, so most detectorists get permission in writing and an agreement regarding any finds before detecting begins.

MORE: Nighthawkers continue to threaten Suffolk’s heritage


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