Rachael Sycamore

Roman metalwork hoards in Britain

Supported by

Arts and Humanities Research Council

My project will investigate the practice of metalworking hoarding across Britain in the Roman period using spatial analysis and collections from the British Museum.

Start Date: September 2015
End Date: September 2018
Theme: The 'lives' of objects from their making, use, reception, loss, collection and later use and understanding
Research discipline: Archaeology
Locations: UK
Staff member: Richard Hobbs
Department: Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory
University and department: Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester
University supervisor: David Mattingly, Colin Haselgrove
Profile: Research Gate
University of Leicester

What can metalwork hoards tell us about the Roman period?

They could reveal a number of different practices such as for ritual reasons or deposition for safe keeping.

What is a hoard?

It is very difficult to define what a hoard is, as the term is compounded with the concept of burial with the intention of returning, which does not apply for the Roman period.

What can this tell us about spatial datasets of archaeological artefacts?

This can reveal nuances with the spatial data, whether it is a modern distribution or reflection of the spatial practice.

About my research

The work of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and commercial archaeology has increased the number of metalwork hoards meaning that new research is required into this cultural phenomenon. There is a considerable corpus of hoards dating from the Roman period, however, the vast majority of previous research has focused on hoards which consist of coins.

This means relatively little is known about metalwork hoards, despite the considerable wealth present in them. The artefacts within the hoards will be studied using concepts of object lives and artefact biographies.

A spatial analysis of the distribution of hoards has the potential to reveal any regional or national patterns as well as their relationship to landscape features such as settlement, Roman infrastructure or natural features.


Snettisham Jewellers Hoard


Water Newton Hoard

Aims of my research

This project will investigate the spatial distribution, landscape context and contents of the metalwork hoards.

This is will be completed by conducting spatial analysis of the locations of the hoards and developing a detailed understanding of the artefacts within the hoards.