The Lenborough Hoard, which consists of over 5200 coins from Anglo-Saxon times, is now on display at the British Museum. This discovery highlights the ongoing importance of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which just released its 2012 Treasure Report.
The 5,251 coins were found by Paul Coleman, a member of the Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club member, late last year at Lenborough in Buckinghamshire. It is believed that the coins could be worth up to £1.3 million.
The coins were found wrapped in a lead sheet and buried in the ground for safekeeping. The coins are of Æthelred II (978-1016) and Cnut (1016-35), and were buried towards the end of Cnut’s reign. The lead wrapping provided protection against the elements while the hoard was in the ground, with the result that the coins are very well preserved. The hoard contains coins from over forty different mints around England, and provides a rare source of information on the circulation of coinage at the time the hoard was buried.
The hoard was discovered on a metal-detecting rally, and recovered under the guidance of the local Finds Liaison Officer. This important find will reveal a great deal about monetary circulation in late Anglo-Saxon England. Paul Coleman explained, ‘When I saw the first few coins I was really excited because I knew I had found a hoard, however the excitement grew and grew as the size and importance of the find became apparent. Ros Tyrrell, the Finds Liaison Officer who was in charge of the excavation, was spot on when she said “now I know a little of what Egyptologist Howard Carter must have felt, when he first looked into the tomb of Tutankhamen.”’
Bob Sutcliffe,, Chair of Buckinghamshire County Museum Trustees, added, “This is an incredible find for Buckinghamshire, and a unique opportunity for us to learn more about the origins of Buckinghamshire in Anglo-Saxon times. It would be fantastic to be able to show people that we have nationally important finds being discovered here. Someone in the now tiny village of Lenborough had stashed a massive amount of money, almost 1,000 years ago, and we want to know who, and why! We’re awaiting the official declaration of Treasure and final valuation, before we decide if we are going to try and acquire this hoard – fundraising for such an important find would be a major project for our recently formed Bucks County Museum Trust, but it will give us the chance to try and involve the public on a new scale, and get them really excited about their heritage.”
The coins can now be seen at Room 68 of the British Museum.
The announcement comes as the Portable Antiquities Scheme released its Treasure Act Annual Report 2012, which details the finds made in England that year, and what has happened with the archaeological treasures that have been discovered. Of the 990 finds reported Treasure in 2012, 368 were acquired by 100 local museums.
Increasingly finders and landowners have waived their right to a reward, enabling museums to acquire Treasure at reduced or no cost. In 2012, 137 parties waived their right to a reward in 93 cases; more than double the number of cases five years ago. Museums have also benefited from funding being made available through the Art Fund, the Headley Trust, The Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and the V&A Purchase Grant fund, which all funded museum acquisitions of Treasure in 2012.
Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum said, “The publication of the latest Treasure Report demonstrates the important contribution the Treasure Act and Portable Antiquities Scheme have made to our understanding of Britain’s history and in supporting collections around the country. More Treasure finds are being reported than ever before and unique objects are documented and conserved for study and public display, such as the recent find of the largest Anglo-Saxon coin hoard recorded since the Treasure Act of 1996. These achievements are a testament to the network of Finds Liaison Officers, who play a key role in ensuring archaeological finds found by the public are properly reported and recorded. It is particularly welcome that, due to the generosity of funding bodies and individual supporters, many of these finds are being acquired by local museums”.