Monday, January 19th, 2009
Yes it’s yet another unthinkable treasure trove discovered by a metal detector hobbyist in England. This time the lucky sod stumbled on 834 gold coins known as staters, dating from 40 B.C. to 15 A.D., in Suffolk.
It’s also the largest hoard of Iron Age gold found in Britain in over 150 years, and the first major find of Iceni gold. The Iceni were the famous warrior queen Boudicca’s tribe, although these coins would have been minted by her predecessors.
They were buried in a plain pottery vessel, possibly inside a rectilinear religious compound, between 15 and AD 20.
Although it has not yet been proved, it is likely the hoard represented part of the wealth of an individual or community and was buried as a votive offering at a time of a political stress, drought or other natural disaster.
This is the first major Icenian gold coin hoard found but the tribe had a tradition of making votive offerings of other gold objects. At one of their major religious centres, Snettisham in northern Norfolk, the tribe buried at least 30kg of gold and silver jewellery. also within a rectilinear enclosure.
The current value of the hoard may actually be less than it was when the Icenians minted it. It’s still a not-inconsiderable 500,000 to 1 million pounds, mind you, but likely any museum would be glad to pay that for the incomparable historical value.
In fact, there’s probably a bit of a bidding war in the making. The British Museum funded the dig after the hoard was discovered and is currently holding the treasure. Once it’s declared an official treasure trove and offered for sale, the BM gets first dibs like it always does on any find of major importance.
The Ipswich Museum wants the hoard to stay in Suffolk with them, though, so they’re already planning to fundraise the money to buy it. The metal detectorist, known only as Michael, think they should stay local, as do the brothers who own the field where the hoard was found.
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.”
Brits are so cute.