I have decided to write this article because, during my research I have discovered that even some of the most recent hoard sites don’t give up all of their treasures in just one excavation. Lets take the Staffordshire hoard (details below) for example, even after the first discovery by a metal detectorist in 2009, and then the detailed excavation by archeologists the same year, amazingly the site produced a second hoard of items just 3 years later in the same spot again by detectorists!
Most of the hoards listed in this series of documents were found in the late 1700s and early 1800s, at a time when metal detectors weren’t even invented, so there is a very big chance that artifacts or coins may still be around the find area (as per the Staffordshire hoard). You may even have detecting land in and around these areas already, so this document might help you piece together the history of your area.
Modern advancements in metal detectors mean they now go deeper than ever before, so there is a good chance of uncovering something that was missed many years ago!
Before you all head off to find treasure be aware metal-detecting can make an important contribution to archaeological knowledge. This document aims to firstly provide guidance for metal-detectorists who wish to contribute to our understanding of the history of England and Wales. It combines both the requirements of finders under the law, as well as more general voluntary guidance on accepted best practice.
Accepted best practice and Being responsible means:
- Not trespassing; before you start detecting obtain permission to search from the landowner, regardless of the status, or perceived status, of the land. Remember that all land (including parks, public open-spaces, beaches and foreshores) has an owner and an occupier (such as a tenant farmer) can only grant permission with both the landowner’s and tenant’s agreement. Any finds discovered will normally be the property of the landowner, so to avoid disputes it is advisable to get permission and agreement in writing first regarding the ownership of any finds subsequently discovered.
- Obeying the law concerning protected sites (such as those defined as Scheduled Monuments, Sites of Special Scientific Interest or military crash sites, and those involving human remains), and also those other sites on which metal-detecting might also be restricted (such as land under Countryside Stewardship or other agri-environment schemes). You can obtain details of these sites from several sources, including the landowner/occupier, your local Finds Liaison Officer or Historic Environment Record or at http://www.magic.gov.uk / https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/ http://cadw.gov.wales – which will help research and better understand the site. Take extra care when detecting near protected sites since it is not always clear where the boundaries of these lie on the ground.
- Familiarising yourself with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (including contact details for your local Finds Liaison Officer – see http://www.finds.org.uk, and its guidance on the recording of archaeological finds discovered by the public; make it clear to the landowner that you wish to record finds with the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Ensure that you follow current conservation advice on the handling, care and storage of archaeological objects (see https://finds.org.uk/conservation/index).
- Obtaining public liability insurance (to protect yourself and others from accidental damage), such as that offered by the National Council for Metal-Detecting or the Federation of Independent Detectorists
In this informative article we will give you the exact grid reference coordinates of where UK hoards were found, just download the free PDF document from our files section at Finds Group.
Lets start with the Staffordshire Hoard as an example
A large amount of gold artefacts were discovered by Terry Herbert on 5 July 2009, when he was searching an area of recently ploughed farmland near Hammerwich, Staffordshire, with a metal detector. Over the next five days, 244 gold objects were recovered from the soil by him. At this point Herbert contacted Duncan Slarke, the Finds Liaison Officer for the Staffordshire and West Midlands Portable Antiquities Scheme. The landowner, Fred Johnson, granted permission for an excavation to search for the rest of the hoard.
“Excavation work was funded by English Heritage who contracted Birmingham Archaeology to do the fieldwork. Ploughing had scattered the artefacts, so an area 9 by 13 metres (30 by 43 ft) was excavated in the search. Because of the importance of the find, the exact site of the hoard was initially kept secret. A geophysical survey of the field in which the hoard was found discovered what could be a ditch close to the find. Although excavations revealed no dating evidence for the feature, further investigation is planned. In total over 3,500 pieces were recovered. A final geophysical survey using specialist equipment provided by the home office did not suggest any further artefacts remained to be found.
The discovery was publicly announced on 24 September 2009, attracting worldwide attention. An official website set up to showcase finds from the Hoard received over 10 million views in the first week after the announcement. Whilst Birmingham Archaeology continued to process the find, items from the Hoard were displayed at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery until 13 October 2009, attracting 40,000 people. Andrew Haigh, the coroner for South Staffordshire, declared the hoard to be treasure, and therefore property of the Crown. A further selection of pieces from the Hoard was displayed at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent. Key items and numerous smaller pieces were then taken to the British Museum, London, where cataloguing, and some initial cleaning and conservation work commenced.
As of 24 September 2009, 1,381 objects had been recovered, of which 864 have a mass of less than 3 grams (0.096 ozt), 507 less than 1 gram (0.032 ozt), leaving just 10 larger items. X-rays of unexamined lumps of earth suggest that there are more to be revealed. Early analysis established that the hoard was not associated with a burial.
In late March 2010, a team of archaeologists carried out a follow-up excavation on the site, digging 100 metres (110 yd) of trenches and pits in the field. According to Staffordshire county archaeologist Stephen Dean, there is no more gold or treasure to recover from the site, and the aim of the new excavation is to look for dating and environmental evidence. Archaeologists hope to be able to use this evidence to determine what the landscape looked like at the time that the hoard was deposited.
In December 2012, it was announced that 91 additional items of gold and silver metalwork had been found in the field where the Staffordshire Hoard was discovered in 2009. The finds were made in November 2012 when archaeologists and metal detectorists from Archaeology Warwickshire, working for Staffordshire County Council and English Heritage, visited the field after it had been ploughed. Many of the pieces are less than 1 gram (0.032 ozt) in weight, but there are some larger pieces, including a cross-shaped mount, an eagle-shaped mount, and a helmet cheek piece that matches one from the 2009 discovery. These additional pieces are believed to be part of the original hoard.
In January 2013, 81 of the 91 items were declared treasure at a coroner’s inquest, and, after they have been valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee, Staffordshire County Council will have an opportunity to purchase the items so that they can be reunited with the rest of the hoard. Although these items were found by archaeologists, the money raised by their sale will be shared between Herbert and Johnson as they were responsible for the original discovery of the hoard. The ten items not declared treasure were identified as modern waste material.
Kevin Leahy of the British Museum has stated that the ten items not declared as belonging to the original hoard may represent part of a different Anglo-Saxon period hoard. Two of these ten items are high-quality pieces of copper alloy, but they are different in style to the gold and silver items of the original hoard. He concludes that “Anglo Saxons clearly visited the site more than once to bury items”. source wikipedia
Bronze age hoards in the UK
This list of Bronze Age hoards in Britain comprises of significant archaeological hoards of jewellery, precious and scrap metal objects and other valuable items discovered in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) that are associated with the British Bronze Age, approximately 2700 BC to 8th century BC. It includes both hoards that were buried with the intention of retrieval at a later date (personal hoards, founder’s hoards, merchant’s hoards, and hoards of loot), and also hoards of votive offerings which were not intended to be recovered at a later date, but excludes grave goods and single items found in isolation.
I have produced a map of the geographical area of the bronze age hoard sites. You can see this by clicking here, but the exact grid references + another 20 locations can be found by clicking here and following the instructions above.
As you will see from the information some of these sites have already been re investigated and produced further items from the original hoard or a new undiscovered hoard on the same site, and others are just waiting to be searched.
If you found this post informative, please make sure you read our other hoard site posts in this series.
Future posts include:
Part 2 – Romano-British hoard locations
Part 3 – Anglo-Saxon hoard locations
Part 4 – Viking hoard locations
Part 5 – Medieval hoards & Post-Medieval hoard locations
- Free metal detecting site research material
- Hoard sites that still produce more (part 3)
- Hoard sites that still produce more (part 2)
- Hoard sites that still produce more (Part 1)
- Metal Detecting site research.