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Norfolk treasure hunters discover more than 6,500 items in just one year

PUBLISHED: 06:00 29 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:19 03 August 2020

A treasure emerges: The stunning Anglo-Saxon pendant emerges from the Norfolk mud. Picture: Tom Lucking.

A treasure emerges: The stunning Anglo-Saxon pendant emerges from the Norfolk mud. Picture: Tom Lucking.

Archant

A senior archeologist says Norfolk is a hot spot for treasure hunters, after a bumper year which saw a Medieval chandelier and Bronze Age sword discovered.

Steven Ashley Norfolk County Council's senior find archaeologist. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANSteven Ashley Norfolk County Council's senior find archaeologist. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

New research has revealed 120 items of treasure were discovered across the UK daily during the past 12 months, with Nelson’s county unearthing a seventh of those finds.

Norfolk has been dubbed the best place for aspiring treasure hunters, with more than 6,500 items discovered by metals detectors since June 2019.

Norfolk County Council’s senior finds archaeologist, Steven Ashley, said the results were unsurprising.

Archaeology student Tom Lucking with some of his finds.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYArchaeology student Tom Lucking with some of his finds. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

He said: “Norfolk is a rich Anglo county and it’s always been well populated, so there’s a lot of material to be found. Here, a lot of the land is available ‘over the plough’, as it were, so it is accessible.

“We also have a long tradition in Norfolk in engaging with detectorists.”

Data from the Portable Antiquities Scheme, led by the British Museum and National Museum Wales, was used to compile the research by retailer metals4U.

The Winfarthing pendant. Pic: Norfolk Museums Service.The Winfarthing pendant. Pic: Norfolk Museums Service.

Managing director Paul McFadyen said: “With many staying in the UK this summer, we wanted to highlight metal detecting as a fun past-time that you can enjoy outdoors while social distancing and hopefully inspire people to have a go.”

Of the 44,000 historical items unearthed, most of items originate from the Roman, Medieval and Post Medieval periods.

In Norfolk, coins (2,142) were the most commonly found object, followed by buckles (450), pots (206) and brooches (201). Other interesting finds included a Bronze Age sword, a Medieval chandelier and various Post Medieval toys.

Mel Hollwoger made two Saxon treasure discoveries in the space of three months the first a seventh century pyramdial mount, Picture: Mel HollwogerMel Hollwoger made two Saxon treasure discoveries in the space of three months the first a seventh century pyramdial mount, Picture: Mel Hollwoger

Leicestershire and Suffolk had the most finds after Norfolk, with 4,101 and 3,105 discoveries made respectively in the past year.

In Suffolk, more than 1,500 objects found were from the Roman era, including a copper ring and a folding knife that could date back to 43AD, when Emperor Claudius ordered four legions to conquer Britain.

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But detectors were advised to take caution when out hunting, and Mr Ashley advised individuals to ask land owners’ permission before carrying out searches.

He added: “It is common practice to enter into an agreement over find too. Usually it is done with a 50/50 split but it needs to be arranged.

“The essential thing for us is the recording of the items. Without doing that, the information would otherwise be lost forever.

Norfolk Coroner's Court ruled the late Saxon gold strip with gem and glass settings as treasure. Picture: Norfolk County CouncilNorfolk Coroner's Court ruled the late Saxon gold strip with gem and glass settings as treasure. Picture: Norfolk County Council

“It’s the jigsaw which makes up our understanding of local and national history.”

Hitting the headlines

A silver  middle Saxon silver brooch found by a metal detectorist in Swaffham on May 9 2019, has been declared Treasure. Picture: Norfolk County CouncilA silver middle Saxon silver brooch found by a metal detectorist in Swaffham on May 9 2019, has been declared Treasure. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Norfolk has an impressive reputation for buried treasures.

Headline grabbing finds like the 14,865 coin Hoxne Hoard and the Winfarthing Pendant have helped attract visitors from all over the globe hoping to discover similar treasures.

Steven Ashley Norfolk County Council's senior find archaeologist. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANSteven Ashley Norfolk County Council's senior find archaeologist. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Archeologist and UEA graduate Tom Lucking hit headlines in 2014 when he unearthed a seventh century haul of Anglo-Saxon gold in a grave buried at a field in Winfarthing.

And he struck treasure again last year, after discovering a silver gilt brooch dating from the 11th or 12th centuries in a field near Wymondham. The brooch was found last September and features two lions with two inlaid pink stones.

The Winfarthing collection became nationally significant after being found near Diss five years ago.

Archaeology student Tom Lucking with some of his finds.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYArchaeology student Tom Lucking with some of his finds. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mel Hollowger found a seventh century pyramidal mount and a gold strip in a location in North Norfolk two days before Christmas in December 2018.

Detectorists can take finds home provided that they obtain export licences for items more than 50 years old. But if a find qualifies as treasure under the Treasure Act it may be compulsorily purchased by a museum. The proceeds are then split between the finder and landowner.


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