Coroner to rule on ancient artefacts

SUFFOLK'S coroner is set to decide if a museum should pay a metal detecting enthusiast for a find of ancient artefacts uncovered near Ipswich.Eighteen historically important Anglo Saxon artefacts were found at a location north of Ipswich in December 2004, a year after a haul of valuable gold and silver fragments were found nearby.

SUFFOLK'S coroner is set to decide if a museum should pay a metal detecting enthusiast for a find of ancient artefacts uncovered near Ipswich.

Eighteen historically important Anglo Saxon artefacts were found at a location north of Ipswich in December 2004, a year after a haul of valuable gold and silver fragments were found nearby.

Dr Peter Dean, Greater Suffolk coroner, is this month set to hold a treasure trove inquest into whether the collection of 18 gilt silver fragments should be classified as treasure.

Archaeology experts today hailed the discovery as historically significant as the artefacts have helped them uncover more details about Anglo Saxon settlements close to Ipswich about 1,400 years ago.


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John Newman, archaeology field officer for Suffolk County Council said: “There's some quite fancy brooches that would have been worn by people who would have been at the top end of Anglo Saxon society.

“The brooches are interesting because it shows the links between Suffolk and Kent. The types of brooches found are similar to ones from Kent. It shows the kingdoms of East Anglia and Kent did have contact.

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“The find is also important for showing yet another early settlement and community.”

Mr Newman said the artefacts dated from slightly before 600AD, earlier than the famous Anglo Saxon find at Sutton Hoo. They are believed to have been unearthed from disturbed graves now located in a farmer's field.

In Anglo Saxon times, when England was Pagan, people were buried wearing their finest things.

Mr Newman said: “They are fairly high quality. Normally with a Saxon cemetery you get some bronze copper alloy finds. It's not usual you get silver gilt. These were probably owned by land owners or local village leaders at the very least.”

On August 21 Dr Dean will hear evidence on the historical value of the fragments, which also include beads and a spear head.

He is expected to hear that Ipswich Museum is interested in acquiring the collection, which could mean that it pays finder John McLaughlin for the haul.

Mr McLaughlin was at the centre of a similar inquest in December 2004 when Dr Dean ruled that the items he found at a site close to that of the December 2004 discovery met the criteria for treasure, meaning that once the items had been valued, Ipswich Museum had to pay him for them to become part of its collection.

A treasure trove inquest is held when objects at least 300 years old containing a substantial amount of silver or gold are found and the owner cannot be traced.

The inquests hear whether a museum is interested in buying the objects from the finder and whether they are important enough to be declared treasure. If so, the finder must then sell them to the interested museum.

Suffolk is the second busiest place in England for treasure trove discoveries. The busiest place is Norfolk, where the highest number of treasure finds are reported.

In 1939, the largest Anglo Saxon ship ever discovered was found at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge. The ship had been used as a burial tomb and a large number of coins, weapons and ornaments were found inside.

Anglo Saxon men would wear a robe or tunic gathered at the waist while women would wear floor length dresses. Both rich and poor people would use brooches to secure clothes.

Anglo Saxons worshipped Gods of nature and prayed to a particular God for a good harvest or success in battle.

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