The Iron Age
Iron Age and Roman
- English Heritage
- University of Leicester Archaeological Services
- The British Museum
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The Hallaton Hoard site is one of the most important discoveries from Iron Age and Early Roman Britain found in the last 20 years. An open air ritual site dating to the decades before and after the Roman conquest of southern Britain in AD 43, the site has produced a series of coin hoards of over 5,000 Iron Age and Roman coins, unusual objects such as a silver bowl and silver decorated Roman parade helmet, as well as evidence for feasting.
The site was discovered in 2000 by amateur archaeologists who played a pivotal role in the archaeological excavations which followed and in protecting the site. The site has been excavated by the University of Leicester Archaeological Unit and the Leicestershire County Council Community Archaeology Project. British Museum staff have been involved in the project conserving the Roman helmet and other finds, and studying the coins.
The unexpected discoveries at Hallaton have put into focus the important changes that took place in the east English Midlands during the 100 years before the Roman conquest and raised important questions about the relationships between Britons and Romans before and after the conquest.
The discoveries are due to be finally published shortly and many of the objects found are on public display at Market Harborough Museum.
One of the most interesting finds from the site is a Roman iron helmet covered with gilded silver decoration. Buried along with coins and animal bone, this fragile helmet was lifted as a block, complete with its soil, and its true nature only revealed as the delicate object has been carefully excavated by Marilyn Hockey at the British Museum. The work at the British Museum has revealed a Roman parade helmet with seven separate cheek pieces.
The hoards of Iron Age and Roman coins are a significant feature of the site. More than 16 different groups of coins were excavated that had been deliberately buried. These groups contain Iron Age coins made in Britain, especially locally in the east English Midlands and some Roman coins. They are the largest group of Iron Age coins excavated under controlled circumstances so far found in Britain.
An Iron Age coin hoard. © 2003 University of Leicester Archaeological Services.
I. Leins, ‘East Leicestershire: Coinage, ritual and society in the Iron Age East Midlands’ in British Numismatic Journal, 77
J.D. Hill, V. Score, I. Leins, ‘Community, Politics and Sacrifice: The East Leicestershire hoard’ in British Archaeology, 89, pp. 34-9
V. Score, ‘Rituals, hoards and helmets: a ceremonial meeting place of the Corieltavi’, in Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, 80, pp. 197–207
V. Priest, P. Clay, J.D. Hill, ‘Iron Age gold from Leicestershire’, in Current Archaeology, 188, pp.358–60
J.H.C. Williams, The coins and the helmet, in Current Archaeology,188, pp. 361–62