Suffolk 'best for buried treasure'

SUFFOLK and Norfolk are among the best places to find buried treasure, a report has revealed.

Russell Claydon

SUFFOLK and Norfolk are among the best places to find buried treasure, a new report has revealed.

Hundreds of ancient objects have been unearthed by metal detecting enthusiasts in the two counties over recent years, according to the British Museum's latest annual commissioned report.

Amongst the most notable local finds reported are 11 Bronze Age hoards at Copdock, near Ipswich, in January 2006.

Treasure is classed as gold or silver objects that are more than 300 years old, groups of coins found together and groups of pre-historic metal work.

Since the Treasure Act came into force in 1996 - which ruled that finders and landowners will be eligible for rewards for finds - Norfolk and Suffolk have reported more findings than any other counties in the UK.

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Suffolk's total currently stands at 324 objects, while Norfolk's stands at 607. The next nearest county is Kent with 279 pieces.

Andrew Brown, the finds liaison officer for Suffolk, who is based with the Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service, said it was the rural nature of the two counties that was leading to more treasure being unearthed.

He said: “Suffolk and Norfolk are quite a productive area, partly to do with being a big rural landscape compared to other areas. And we have always had a long standing relationship with people who do metal detecting.”

He added the bulk of the finds were from the medieval and Roman periods.

The Copdock find in 2006 was one of 48 treasures uncovered in that year in Suffolk and was initially hit upon by a metal detector enthusiast, who contacted the county's archaeological service.

An excavation from a small oval shaped pit revealed a total of 56 objects dating to the Late Bronze Age (c.1000-800 BC).

The finds included numerous copper alloy ingots, at least five socketed axe heads, a cauldron/bucket fragment, as well as a leaf-shaped dagger, axe heads and metal working debris.

The Treasure Act has also seen a 10-fold increase in the amount of treasure items offered to museums.

Culture Minister Barbara Follett, who is also the minister for the East of England, said: “The treasures of the past that are found in the fields, farms and fells across the United Kingdom are vital pieces in the jigsaw puzzle of our history. They help us to understand the origins and development of our culture and identity.”

The 2005-2006 Treasure Annual Report released this week included the most expensive single treasure find in recent history, a gold Iron Age choker - valued at £350,000 and found by a man in Nottinghamshire.

To report a find to the Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service call 01284 352449 or email archaeology@et.suffolkcc.gov.uk.

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