Ancient coins found in Suffolk village

TREASURE-hunting enthusiast James Arms chanced upon a 2000-year-old coin in a Suffolk village, which has been enthusiastically snapped up by the British Museum.

TREASURE-hunting enthusiast James Arms chanced upon a 2000-year-old coin in a Suffolk village, which has been enthusiastically snapped up by the British Museum.

Mr Arms, 41, of Thackeray Road, Ipswich, has been metal-detecting for about 20 years, but tends to only find ring pulls, buttons and bits of lead.

But while searching in the village of Nettlestead, near Blakenham, Mr Arms chanced upon an unusual silver coin, embossed with a wild-haired head on one side and a Celtic horse on the other.

It turned out to be an Iron Age coin dating from around 50BC. Known as a Bury coin – named after the origin of such coins from the Bury St Edmunds region – the coin was most likely made by the Iceni tribe.


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The Iceni tribe, which populated north-west Suffolk and Norfolk, are most famous for their spirited revolt against the Roman invaders, led by Boudicca (Bodicea), in AD60.

Mr Arms said: "Such finds are a real bonus. It is normally just the usual rubbish, such as ring pulls, cartridges, buttons and bits of scrap.

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"So when I found this coin I thought it was about time. The last time I found a coin like this was in 2001.

"In the past, I have also found Bronze Age and Roman coins, brooches and even a Bronze Age axe head."

Since 1999, Mr Arms has found six of these Bury coins. The British Museum paid Mr Arms about £80 for the first five and this latest coin is currently being valued.

These coins make up the British Museum's entire collection of Bury Coins, but there seems to be different suggestions as to what the coins were doing there.

John Newman, archeological head officer for Suffolk County Council, said: "These coins are very important. Finds like these show what happened in the Iron Age.

"These coins show that there was contact between Iron Age tribes all throughout East Anglia and the Gipping Valley – probably through trade routes."

But Richard Abdy, coin curator at the British Museum, suggests a different interpretation. He said: "I think it is most likely that someone buried a hoard of coins, which was then forgotten about. This sort of activity was quite commonplace right up until the coming of banks."

Greater Suffolk Coroner Peter Dean deemed Mr Arms' latest Bury coin treasure, at a treasure trove inquest held in Ipswich last week.

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