Hoards of hoards at Salisbury

A MAJOR new exhibition opens at the Salisbury Museum on Saturday 13th October. Hoards: A Hidden History of Ancient Britain, which is being put on in partnership with the British Museum,  aims to reveal some of the fascinating stories behind the headlines of buried treasure, with displays of hoards from across the British Isles.

The exhibition, which runs to 5th January 2019, traces the story of hoarding from bronze weapons discovered in the Thames and the first Iron Age coin hoards, through to hoards buried after the collapse of Roman rule in Britain and in more recent times.

It will showcase recent discoveries of hoards reported by finders and archaeologists through the Treasure Act and brings together objects from the British Museum and Salisbury Museum, including the spectacular Ipswich Iron Age gold torcs and new prehistoric and Roman finds from Wessex.

Adrian Green, director of Salisbury Museum says: “This exhibition is an incredible opportunity for Salisbury Museum to showcase some of our nationally important archaeology collections alongside stunning objects from the British Museum. A highlight from Salisbury Museum will be a rare 3,500 year old bronze quoit-headed pin from the Wylye Hoard. This hoard was found by metal detectorists in 2012 and was acquired via the Treasure Act 2014. Items from the hoard have recently been undergoing conservation and will be going on show for the first time in this exhibition.”

To support this exhibition, a variety of events and talks have been programmed; they include:

8th, 15th and 16th October – artist Claire Thomas will lead a three day, project-based course on the Art of Transformation, taking inspiration from the artefacts on display;
Thursday 18th October – a talk by Dr Eleanor Ghey from the British Museum to introduce the exhibition and reveal some of the stories behind the objects on display;
Thursday 29th November – a talk by Dr Neil Wilkin, who is responsible for the British and European Bronze Age Collection at the British Museum, about ‘Hoards During the Earliest Age of Metal;

Pictured: A hoard of Iron Age and Roman coins found in Owermoigne, Dorset, in 2010 © The Trustees of the British Museum


New Roman hoard found near Salisbury

AN exciting Roman hoard, known as the Bourne Valley Hoard, has been found near Salisbury. It was discovered during a metal detecting rally in August by Tony and Paul Hunt and goes on show for the first time at the Salisbury Museum as part of a new exhibition in partnership with the British Museum.

When Tony and Paul found a pot, they acted responsibly and immediately contacted the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme, who sent a team of archaeologists to excavate it. What had been discovered was a pot packed full of Roman coins. The pot was cracked so it was carefully excavated, wrapped in bandages and then taken to a British Museum laboratory, where 1,820 Roman coins were removed from inside.

The coins turned out to be Roman radiates, dating from the late third century AD. They are called radiates, because the emperor depicted wears a crown representing the sun’s rays, after the sun god Sol.

Large coin hoards from the late third century are quite common because there was huge inflation at the time, which led to devaluation of the coinage. Coins were stashed, but possibly never collected because they were worth so little. As the pot contained more than 10 base metal coins, it was reported as potential Treasure under the Treasure Act of 1996. If the coroner decides the Bourne Valley Hoard is Treasure, the Salisbury Museum hopes to purchase it.

To give some context – the largest Roman coin hoard ever found in Britain is the Cunetio Hoard – Cunetio was a Roman town that was near Mildenhall in Wiltshire. The hoard consists of 54,951 coins in two containers and was discovered in 1978 by two metal detectorists. The pot that held some of the coins is owned by Wiltshire Museum and the hoard by the British Museum. The two are reunited for the first time in the new Salisbury exhibition, Hoards: A Hidden History of Ancient Britain opens on 13th October..

Museum director Adrian Green says: “What is exciting about the Bourne Valley Hoard is that it is going on display in the condition it was found in. Treasure cases often disappear from public view until they are acquired by a local museum – but the Hoards exhibition at Salisbury Museum gives us the perfect opportunity to showcase this recent discovery.”

The Bourne Valley Hoard © The Trustees of the British Museum