The Hoxne hoard

The Hoxne (pronounced 'Hoxon') hoard consists of over 15,000 gold and silver coins, gold jewellery and numerous small items of silver tableware, including pepper pots, ladles and spoons. Also found were the remains of a large wooden chest and smaller caskets with tiny silver padlocks, into which the treasure had been carefully secreted.

It was discovered in November 1992 by Eric Lawes, who immediately reported the find and did not remove all the objects from the ground. This enabled the Suffolk Archaeological Unit to carry out a controlled excavation of the deposit, which has greatly enhanced the importance of the Hoxne Treasure for research in the future.

The silver objects are all quite small: the bulk of these are around 100 spoons and ladles. Such an extensive collection of silverware would almost certainly have also included larger table vessels, such as those in the Mildenhall treasure. A silver handle in the form of a tigress, apparently deliberately detached from a tall vase, indicates the existence of at least one such larger vessel for the table. The unusual selection of jewellery comprises a body-chain, a small group of necklaces, three finger-rings and 19 bracelets.

The latest of the coin issues in the hoard establishes that its burial took place some time after AD 407/8. This was the period when Roman rule was breaking down in Britain, and the Hoxne hoard might be related to these events. The careful burial of this treasure probably means that the owner intended to come back and recover it later, but for whatever reason was unable to do so.


C.M. Johns, The Hoxne Late Roman Treasure: Gold Jewellery and Silver Plate (London, The British Museum Press, 2010)

T.W. Potter, Roman Britain, 2nd edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)

C.M. Johns and R. Bland, 'The Hoxne late Roman treasure', Britannia, 25 (1994), pp. 165-73

R. Bland and C.M. Johns, The Hoxne Treasure, an illustrated Introduction (London, The British Museum Press, 1993)

The Hoxne hoard on the British Museum collection database online

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