Norfolk finds

walshp200901201326401Record archaelogical finds in Norfolk

Record amounts of archaeological finds are being uncovered in Norfolk – at a greater rate than anywhere else in the whole of Great Britain – because so many people with metal detectors are sweeping the county for signs of the past. A record 110 treasure cases were seen and assessed by Norwich Castle last year and museum chiefs face a challenge to decide which objects they can afford to keep. A mini-army of amateur archaeologists have, in recent years, contributed to the discovery of a great deal of these artefacts and treasure and museum bosses hailed their role in helping archaeologists uncover Norfolk’s rich past. People who find treasure are entitled to payment, but the money must come from the institution which buys it, and so much is found in Norfolk that the museum service cannot afford to buy it all. Dr John Davies, chief curator and keeper of archaeology at Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service, said: “There are an extraordinary number of objects coming up. Previously we did not see there was an opportunity to acquire them, but we now see that as much more of a priority. “There is a finite amount of this material and it is essential that we acquire a representative selection of these objects. “There’s more coming up than we can acquire and there were 110 treasure cases last year in Norfolk, which is a seventh of the total found in the whole of England and Wales.” Dr Davies said the service had been awarded £200,000 through a new Heritage Lottery Fund called Collecting Cultures to help with a more strategic approach to acquisitions, but added it was a help if people donated items to the service. Dr Davies admitted to looking on enviously when one of the UK’s largest hauls of Iron Age gold coins was found just over the border in Suffolk. The 824 staters were found, using a metal detector, in a broken pottery jar buried in a field near Wickham Market, it was announced last weekend. The coins dated from 40BC to AD15 and are thought to have been minted by predecessors of the Iceni Queen Boudicca. Tim Pestell, curator of archaeology at Norwich Castle Museum, said: “Metal detectorists are our eyes and ears and many of them are amateur archaeologists with whom we have good links. On Roman sites, if you dig, there’s so much metalwork the most experienced archaeologists miss, but the metal detectors will pick up on it.”

Other important acquisitions include:

  • An Iron Age drinking horn terminal in the shape of a bull’s head;
  • An Iron Age enamelled lynchpin hoard;
  • Rare 8th century sceatta coins from west Norfolk;
  • A unique 8th century silver penny of King Coenwulf of Mercia, struck by an East Anglian moneyer;
  • A 16th century silver religious pendant with a German inscription;
  • A sixth century enamelled hanging bowl plate in the shape of a human head;
  • A silver-gilt Carolingian strap-mount.

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