Largest Anglo-Saxon coin hoard tops list of latest nationwide treasure finds


On the occasion of the launch of the Treasure Annual Report 2012 by Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture, at the British Museum, the largest Anglo Saxon coin hoard found since the Treasure Act began is announced. This amazing archaeological hoard of around 5,200 coins was discovered in the village of Lenborough, Buckinghamshire. This discovery highlights the ongoing importance of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure Act in ensuring that the most important finds are secured for the nation.

The coins were found wrapped in a lead sheet and buried in the ground for safekeeping. The coins are of Æthelred II (978-1016) and Cnut (1016-35), and were buried towards the end of Cnut’s reign. The lead wrapping provided protection against the elements while the hoard was in the ground, with the result that the coins are very well preserved. The hoard contains coins from over forty different mints around England, and provides a rare source of information on the circulation of coinage at the time the hoard was buried.

Under the Treasure Act 1996 there is a legal obligation for finders to report Treasure. Since the advent of the Act the number of finds reported has increased fivefold from 201 cases in 1998 (the first full year of the Act) to 993 in 2013, and 1008 in 2014. If declared Treasure such finds may be acquired by museums, with preference going to the local museum. Of the 990 finds reported Treasure in 2012, 368 were acquired by 100 local museums, so they can be displayed to the public close to where the items were discovered. These include the Bedale, North Yorkshire Hoard of Viking jewellery, weaponry and ingots (2012 T373; YORYM-CEE620) acquired by York Museums Trust, and a Roman silver bracelet from Dalton area, Cumbria (2012 T627; PAS-A7DC11) acquired by the Dock Museum.

Increasingly finders and landowners have waived their right to a reward, enabling museums to acquire Treasure at reduced or no cost. In 2012, 137 parties waived their right to a reward in 93 cases; more than double the number of cases five years ago. Museums have also benefited from funding being made available through the Art Fund, the Headley Trust, The Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and the V&A Purchase Grant fund, which all funded museum acquisitions of Treasure in 2012.

In Room 2 at the British Museum a case is dedicated to displaying recent finds recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme or reported Treasure. This allows interesting and important discoveries to be seen in London before they are acquired by local museums.

Another case in Room 68, the Citi Money Gallery, is also often used to display recent finds reported through Treasure and the Portable Antiquities Scheme. A new display of a selection of coins from the Lenborough hoard opens on February 10 to coincide with the launch of the Treasure Annual Report. This will provide some public access to the hoard while it is going through the Treasure process.

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum said, “The publication of the latest Treasure Report demonstrates the important contribution the Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme have made to our understanding of Britain’s history and in supporting collections around the country. More Treasure finds are being reported than ever before and unique objects are documented and conserved for study and public display, such as the recent find of the largest Anglo-Saxon coin hoard recorded since the Treasure Act of 1996. These achievements are a testament to the network of Finds Liaison Officers, who play a key role in ensuring archaeological finds found by the public are properly reported and recorded. It is particularly welcome that, due to the generosity of funding bodies and individual supporters, many of these finds are being acquired by local museums”.

Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, said: “I’d especially like to thank the finders and landowners who have graciously waived their right to a reward so that local museums can acquire Treasure. It is an initiative that the Government has been keen to support, and it demonstrates that metal-detectorists have a genuine interest in the past, and are not just interested in archaeology for personal gain”

Finds on Display at the British Museum’s Launch of the Treasure Annual Report

Anglo-Saxon Coin Hoard from Lenborough, Buckinghamshire (2014 T973; BUC-7FE6F2) Around 5200 Anglo-Saxon silver pennies, and two cut half pennies, of kings Æthelred II (r.978-1016) and Cnut (r.1016-35), found within a lead parcel. The hoard was discovered on a metal-detecting rally, and recovered under the guidance of the local Finds Liaison Officer. This important find will reveal a great deal about monetary circulation in late Anglo-Saxon England.

Finder Paul Coleman said, ‘When I saw the first few coins I was really excited because I knew I had found a hoard, however the excitement grew and grew as the size and importance of the find became apparent. Ros Tyrrell, the FLO who was in charge of the excavation, was spot on when she said “now I know a little of what Egyptologist Howard Carter must have felt, when he first looked into the tomb of Tutankhamen."’

Chair of Buckinghamshire County Museum Trustees Bob Sutcliffe, said “This is an incredible find for Buckinghamshire, and a unique opportunity for us to learn more about the origins of Buckinghamshire in Anglo-Saxon times. It would be fantastic to be able to show people that we have nationally important finds being discovered here. Someone in the now tiny village of Lenborough had stashed

a massive amount of money, almost 1,000 years ago, and we want to know who, and why! We’re awaiting the official declaration of Treasure and final valuation, before we decide if we are going to try and acquire this hoard – fundraising for such an important find would be a major project for our recently formed Bucks County Museum Trust, but it will give us the chance to try and involve the public on a new scale, and get them really excited about their heritage.”

Bronze Age Bracelet Hoard from Wollaston, Gloucestershire (2013 T805; GLO-E9EC16) Eight gold bracelets nested together in three groups, probably belonging to a child, and featuring unique decoration. They date to c.1400–c.1100 BC. The British Museum hopes to acquire.

Bronze Age Lunula from Tarrant Valley, Dorset (2014 T257; DOR-2198F8) Gold neck ornament, much more common in Ireland than in Britain. Dating from c.2100–c.1400 BC. Dorset County Museum hopes to acquire.

Viking Hoard from West Coast of Cumbria (2014 T518; LANCUM-FA14C8)

Total of 19 silver objects including ingots and fragments of arm rings, dating from AD C9th to C10th. The Beacon Museum hopes to acquire.

Post-medieval reliquary cross from Skellow, South Yorkshire (2013 T807; SWYOR-7346E4)

Gold reliquary containing possible relic dating to the C17th or early C18th. It probably belonged to recusants living in Yorkshire. Doncaster Museum hopes to acquire.


Notes to Editors:

The Treasure Act 1996

Under the Treasure Act (finds. org.uk/treasure) finders have a legal obligation to report all finds of potential Treasure to the local coroner in the district in which the find was made. The success of the Act is only possible through the work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, with its advising finders of their legal obligations, providing advice on the process and writing reports for coroners on Treasure finds.

The Act allows a national or local museum to acquire Treasure finds for public benefit. If this happens a reward is paid, which is (normally) shared equally between the finder and landowner. Interested parties may wish to waive their right to a reward, enabling museums to acquired finds at reduced or no cost. Rewards are fixed at the full market value of the finds, determined by the Secretary of State upon the advice of an independent panel of experts, known as the Treasure Valuation Committee.

The administration of the Treasure process is undertaken at the British Museum. This work involves the preparation of Treasure cases for coroners’ inquests, providing the secretariat for the Treasure Valuation Committee, and handling disclaimed cases and the payment of rewards.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme

Thousands of archaeological objects are discovered every year, many by members of the public, particularly by people while metal-detecting. If recorded, these finds have great potential to transform archaeological knowledge, helping archaeologists understand when, where and how people lived in the past.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme (www.finds.org.uk) offers the only proactive mechanism for recording such finds, which are made publicly available on its online database. This data is an important educational and research resource that can be used by anyone interested in learning more.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is managed by the British Museum, and funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport through a grant, the British Museum and local partners. Its work is guided by the Portable Antiquities Advisory Group, whose membership includes leading archaeological, landowner and metal-detecting organisations.

The Lenborough Hoard was found on a metal-detecting rally. In this case it was fortunate the Finds Liaison Officer was in attendance as she was able to ensure all the coins were recovered. With so many people present and failing light it was necessary to lift the coins that day, rather than wait for additional support and undertake a systematic archaeological excavation. The PAS has produced guidance for rally organizers: see finds.org.uk/getinvolved/guides/rallycode

Museums that Acquired Treasure in 2012

The Ashmolean Museum

Athelstan Museum

Banbury Museum

Bankfield Museum

Bassetlaw Museum

Bedford Museum

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Bishop's Stortford Museum

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

The British Museum

Buckinghamshire County Museum

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Calderdale Museums

Cambridgeshire CC Archaeological Store

Canterbury Museum

Chelmsford Museum

Colchester & Ipswich Museums Service

The Collection, Lincoln

Corinium Museum

Dacorum Heritage Trust

Dean Heritage Centre

Derby Museum and Art Gallery

The Dock Museum, Barrow-in-Furness

Doncaster Museum

Dorset County Museum

Dover Museum

East Riding of Yorkshire Museums Service

Ely Museum

Epping Forest District Museum

Fitzwilliam Museum

The Forge Museum, Much Hadam

Grosvenor Museum

Guildford Museum

Hampshire Museums Service

Harrogate Museums

Herefordshire Heritage Services

Hertford Museum

Horsham Museum

Isle of Wight Heritage Service

Kendal Museum

Kirklees Museums and Galleries

Lancaster City Museum

Leicestershire County Council Heritage Services

The Lightbox, Woking

Lynn Museum

Maidstone Museum

Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon

Museum of London

Museum of Richmond

Museum of Somerset

Museums Sheffield

Museums Worcestershire

Nantwich Museum

National Museum Northern Ireland

National Museums Liverpool

Newark Museum

Newton Abbot Town and Great Western Railway Museum

National Museum Wales

Norris Museum

North Hertfordshire Museum

North Lincolnshire Museum

North Somerset Museum

Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery

The Novium – Chichester

The Old Bell Museum, Mongomery

Orford Museum

Oxfordshire Museums Service

Penrith Museum

Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery

Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery

The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent

Preston Park Museum

Priest's House Museum, Dorset

Roman Baths and Pumphouse Museum

Clifton Park and Museum, Rotherham

Royal Albert Memorial Museum

Royal Cornwall Museum

Saffron Walden Museum

Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum

Scolton Manor, Havorfordwest

Senhouse Roman Museum, Maryport

Sevenoaks Museum

Shropshire Museum Service

Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne

St Albans Museums Service

Surrey Archaeological Society

Three Rivers Museum, Rickmansworth

The Tower of London

Vindolanda Trust

Wakefield Museum

Warwickshire Museum

West Berkshire Museum

Whitby Museum

Wiltshire Heritage Museum

Winchester Museums Service

Wisbech & Fenland Museum

Wrexham Museum

York Museums Trust

The Citi Money Gallery

The Citi Money Gallery displays the history of money from around the world over 4,000 years. Throughout history, currency has taken many different forms, from coins to banknotes, shells to mobile phones. From the earliest evidence, to the latest developments in digital technology, money has always been an important part of human societies. The Citi Money Gallery enables visitors to look at the history of money as a way to understanding the history of the world. The Gallery is supported by Citi.


For further information

Please contact the British Museum Press Office
on +44 20 7323 8394 / 8522 or communications@britishmuseum.org

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