Suffolk is treasure-hunting goldmine
TREASURE hunters in Suffolk unearth more finds than nearly anywhere else in the country, it has been revealed.Over an eight-year period from 1997, 212 treasure cases were reported throughout the county, making it the second richest area for archaeological objects.
TREASURE hunters in Suffolk unearth more finds than nearly anywhere else in the country, it has been revealed.
Over an eight-year period from 1997, 212 treasure cases were reported throughout the county, making it the second richest area for archaeological objects.
The figures, contained in the Government's most recent Treasure Annual Report, show one of the biggest finds was a medieval gold ring, worth £3,750, found by a member of the public in Eye.
Other discoveries include a medieval silver-guilt pendant, found in the Bury St Edmunds area, a Roman gold earring found in the Sudbury area and a post-medieval dress hook discovered in Hadleigh.
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Suffolk has a rich history for important archaeological finds, including the world-famous Sutton Hoo excavations in 1939, which unearthed the remains of a treasure-laden ship grave of an Anglo-Saxon king.
Other notable finds include a huge collection of Roman silver, worth tens of thousands, in West Row, near Mildenhall, in 1943 and the “Hoxne Hoard” – consisting of thousands of coins and gold and silver objects – found in 1992.
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Faye Minter, finds recording officer at Suffolk County Council, said one theory as to why Suffolk was a goldmine for treasure was the high level of arable land.
“There are also a high number of general finds made by members of the public which are not listed as treasure,” she said.
“The county has a history of good relationships between archaeologists and amateur metal detector enthusiasts, and people seem more keen to bring their finds in to be recorded.”
In 1997, new guidelines were set out under the Treasure Act, defining the meaning of the word “treasure”.
The act deemed a treasure find as two or more gold or silver coins found together in exactly the same place; 10 or more bronze coins found together; any object of more than 10% gold or silver that is more than 300 years old; or two or more objects made of prehistoric metal found together.
In 1997, the recording of treasure was officially recognised with the launch of the Government's Portable Antiquities Scheme, which led to councils employing officers to examine finds which would otherwise have gone recorded.
“The trouble is that people don't often realise they have found treasure,” said Miss Minter.
“Unlike a lot of county councils, Suffolk has been recording finds since the 1980s or before, so we were already quite advanced when the scheme came into force.”
The Treasure Annual Report 2003 showed Suffolk was only beaten to the top spot by Norfolk, which boasts 370 finds since 1997.
Anything brought into the council's archaeological service that is thought to be treasure is couriered to the British Museum, where it is examined by experts. A treasure trove inquest is then held to determine whether it is actually a treasure find. If it is, the object is put before the Treasure Evaluation Committee, which decides how much it is worth.
“Finding and recording treasure it is a very important process, especially in counties like Suffolk where archaeology is being destroyed by agriculture,” said Miss Minter.
“Some people hold back from handing treasure to us, but they receive full market value for it and it means other people have the opportunity to enjoy the object if it ends up being put in a museum.
“Metal detecting is a very popular hobby in Suffolk, and I would encourage anyone to bring any finds into Suffolk County Council's Archaeology Service.”