From another one of my roving reporters.
From Scotland this time – dated between 300-50BC:
An enthusiast with a metal detector has unearthed a £1 million hoard of Iron Age gold necklaces from a field near Stirling in a discovery that is set to revolutionise the way that historians view some of Scotland’s ancient inhabitants.
According to experts at the National Museums of Scotland (NMS), the four beautifully worked “torcs” represent the most significant find of Iron Age metalwork in the country. One of the Stirling necklaces is a ribbon torc made from twisted Irish or Scottish sheet gold. Another is encrusted with circles of gold wire and beads of gold that look like pearls.
In financial terms, the anonymous finder has struck gold in every sense. A single, similar item — the Newark torc — was sold for £350,000 in 2006, suggesting that treasure trove of well in excess of £1 million will soon be paid by the Crown.
A spokesman for NMS, whose experts are studying the find, said that a value would be determined by the independent Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel early next year. “The finder is normally rewarded with the current market value,” he added.
For archaeologists, monetary matters pale against the historical significance of the torcs, which probably date from between the 1st and 3rd centuries BC. Intriguingly, the Stirling find appears to reveal links between local tribes — traditionally seen as isolated — and other Iron Age people in Europe. Goldwork of roughly equivalent design has been discovered near Toulouse, in the South of France, a connection suggesting that both ideas and technology travelled over surprisingly large distances.
Ian Ralston, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, pointed out that the latest find comes eight years after an Iron Age cart burial was unearthed at Newbridge in West Lothian. This high-status burial — probably a chieftain and his chariot — was the first of its type to have been found in Scotland, though similar interments took place from the Atlantic coast of France to Hungary. “These two finds suggest tribes in what we think of as ‘Scotland’ had rather wider links than archaeologists a generation ago would have expected,” Professor Ralston said. “They knew what was going on elsewhere, valued similar things and emulated practice in burials or votives.
“If you had said to me in 2000, what are the chances of a cart burial turning up in Scotland, I would have said about zilch. If you had asked the same question about a hoard of torcs near Stirling, I would have said about zilch. Then these discoveries turn up and very quickly change perceptions of the past.”
He added that the find was the most significant in Scotland since 1857, when two gold torcs were found on farmland in Morayshire.
Archaeologists divide over the reasons for the burial of hoards. One school of thought believes that precious of objects would be hidden in time of war, to be reclaimed later. However, Professor Ralston leans towards the theory that the hoards were votives, offerings to the gods. Others hoards — such as 20 torcs discovered together at Snettisham, Norfolk — suggested many people acting in concert and burying items together.
“The implication is that this stuff is consigned to the ground for higher purposes. In Scottish terms this is a hugely significant deposit, but even in European terms, four torcs together is very unusual,” he said.
The jewellery probably belonged to members of a Celtic-speaking tribe, Professor Ralston added. The same tribes would bind together to face Roman invaders and would be called Caledonii by Tacitus, the historian, in the 1st century AD.
In July a hoard of more than 1,000 golden Anglo Saxon items were unearthed from a field in Staffordshire.
Scots metal detector man finds 2000-year-old lost treasure trove worth £1m [link has video pics]