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Now Thetford can see its treasure!

PUBLISHED: 19:24 13 May 2008 | UPDATED: 21:05 07 July 2010

Museum curator Oliver Bone looks at the Thetford treasure.

Museum curator Oliver Bone looks at the Thetford treasure.

Treasures that rested underground for more than 1,500 years and were promptly whisked away to London following news of their discovery have returned home for the first time.

Treasures that rested underground for more than 1,500 years and were promptly whisked away to London following news of their discovery have returned home for the first time.

At the weekend guests were given a sneak preview of the new Thetford Treasure, Romans Rediscovered exhibition at the Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life, which opened to the public on Monday.

The precious hoard of Roman gold jewellery and silver spoons that was uncovered at a Thetford industrial site nearly 30 years ago is considered one of the country's greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century.

The hoard has been on permanent display at the British Museum since being discovered and now part of it is being loaned to the Ancient House where it will be on display for the next seven months.

The Thetford Treasure was found by metal detectorist Arthur Brooks in 1979 and includes 44 pieces of jewellery and 33 silver spoons. His decision not to immediately declare it to the relevant authorities was described as “tragic” by the British Museum's then keeper of Romano British antiquities as the precious hoard's six month occupation in a bank vault denied archaeologists the chance to investigate the site off Mundford Road, which was being turned into an industrial warehouse.

It is thought that the treasure was buried in around 390 AD when opposition to religious cults was rife. Amongst the pieces on loan from the British Museum are an iconic gold belt buckle depicting a satyr, and a 'duck handled' spoon decorated with the image of a triton.

Other objects in the exhibition highlight the importance of recording archaeological discoveries in helping us understand our past.

The finds on display include items from a Roman temple site in Hockwold-cum-Wilton, the Roman town at Brampton and a Roman blacksmith's hoard from an organised excavation at Kilverstone.

Key objects from these sites include a small figure of Mercury, a key handle depicting a lion devouring a man and several blacksmith's tools and agricultural implements.

Richard Hobbs, curator at the British Museum, said: “The Thetford Treasure is of national and international importance, as it contains one of the finest sets of late Roman silver plate and jewellery known from the late Roman period.”

Oliver Bone, curator of the Ancient House Museum said: “I am really pleased that we can display these fascinating Roman gold and silver objects here in Thetford. We are very grateful to the British Museum for lending them.”

The Ancient House has organised a programme of talks and events on a Roman theme to complement the exhibition.

For more information call 01842 752599 or email ancienthouse@norfolk.gov.uk or visit www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk

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