A unique and rare Roman coin hoard found in Sussex has been successfully acquired by the Brighton Royal Pavilion & Museums. The hoard and its pottery container were acquired with a grant awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The hoard was discovered by a metal detectorist on land in the Weald, about, 30 miles north west of Brighton. The coins date from the third century AD and of the 2,895 silver coins found two are of special significance; the third coin of Tranquillina (wife of Gordian III) and only the second coin of Cornelia Supera (wife of Aemilian) found anywhere in the country. The latest coins in the hoard date to around AD 268 and it is one of the largest hoards of Roman coins ever found in the county.
Staff at the British Museum conserved and catalogued the hoard which qualified as Treasure under the Treasure Act, and it was then valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee. They recognised it as a very important find for the region and recommended that the Royal Pavilion & Museums should purchase it on behalf of the nation to keep the hoard in Sussex.
The hoard will become part of the Royal Pavilion & Museums public collections and go on display in Brighton Museum in the Summer. Plans for a touring display in early 2013 will take the hoard to other local museums including Hastings Museum, Bexhill Museum, Battle Museum, Eastbourne Museum and Fishbourne Roman Villa.
The touring display will also be accompanied by a social media campaign making the hoard accessible to a wider audience.
Cllr Geoffrey Bowden, Brighton & Hove City Council's cabinet member for Culture, Recreation and Tourism, said: ‘This is great news for the Royal Pavilion & Museums and a very important addition to our public collections. A recent public consultation of our collections revealed an enormous public appetite for local archaeology and the successful acquisition of the hoard will make this important historic record accessible to local residents, visitors and the wider community. It is also a fantastic educational opportunity and a chance for people to learn about their heritage.’
He added: ‘Our Pavilion & Museums staff have worked hard to secure funding to buy this important hoard at no cost to the council, and we are extremely grateful to the Heritage Lottery for their generous grant.’
Roger Bland, Keeper of the Department of Portable Antiquities & Treasure at the British Museum said: ‘This is a very important coin hoard and we are delighted that the Royal Pavilion & Museums have been able to acquire it for the benefit of the people of Sussex. It is the largest hoard of coins of the reigns of Gordian III (238-44), Philip I (244-9), Trajan Decius (249-51) and Trebonianus Gallus (251-3) to have been found in Britain since the Dorchester hoard of 1936 and the coins provide important evidence about this troubled period of Roman history, while the hoard is also an important historical document about Roman Sussex.’
Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East England said: ‘The acquisition of this important hoard guarantees that it will remain, intact, in the county where it was discovered and the plans to create a touring exhibition to other local museums will ensure that as many people as possible are given the opportunity to view it and learn of its significance.’
John Funnell, member of the Brighton & Hove Archaeological Society said: ‘We congratulate the Royal Pavilion & Museums on acquiring the High Weald hoard. This is a great achievement for the museum as the hoard is one of the most important Roman coin hoards found in Sussex. It is not just the size of the hoard which is so important but that it was found on the edge of the Weald, that part of East Sussex where discoveries from the Roman period are very rare. It sheds light on the archaeology of that area and possibly represents a connection with the local iron industry during that period. The hoard is therefore a great addition to Brighton Museum’s archaeology collections.’
David Rudling, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at Sussex University said: 'I am extremely pleased that it has been possible for the entire hoard and its pottery container to be acquired by a major museum in Sussex. This is an important discovery with exceptional display and educational potential.'
Published 17th March 2012
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