East Anglian relics are among a collection of treasures being brought to the region for the first major national display of British archaeology in more than 20 years.

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East Anglian relics are among a collection of treasures being brought to the region for the first major national display of British archaeology in more than 20 years.

The Mildenhall Treasure, a fabulous hoard of ancient Roman tableware, is normally lodged in the British Museum, along with other local discoveries such as the Hoxne hoard and Iceni torcs from Snettisham.

Now, the museum has teamed up with four others, including the Norwich Castle Museum, to take its Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past exhibition around the country to give people a chance to view some of the most spectacular finds in British history.

The Mildenhall Treasure was discovered by a farm worker on the Norfolk/Suffolk border in 1942.

Long shrouded in mystery, and prompting an adventure story by the late Roald Dahl, the Mildenhall Treasure centres on a great platter decorated with scenes from a mythical feast. For a time its finder used the priceless relic as a fruit dish.

Last night, Tim Pestell, curator of archaeology at Norwich Castle, said the exhibition featured some of the most astonishing archaeological discoveries ever made in the country.

“We are delighted to be hosting the exhibition,” he said. “This region is particularly rich in archaeological finds of all types and dates and it is wonderful that local people will get the chance to see some of them.”

Also returning to the region are exquisite Iceni torcs from Snettisham and coins from the Hoxne hoard thought to have been buried by a family fleeing with the last of the Roman legions in about 410AD.

Other treasures include the Isle of Lewis chessmen, featured in the first Harry Potter film, and skeletons discovered at Llanbedrgoch in Anglesey which tell of untimely death in the Viking age.

Mr Pestell said the exhibition aimed to celebrate the role of the public in uncovering items ranging from treasures to more commonplace, but archaeologically important, objects. Many of the treasures are on view for the first time.

Almost all the precious finds on display were discovered by chance – by farmers, beachcombers and more recently metal detector users.

The last leg of the national tour is at Norwich Castle from July 25 2005 until January 15 2006.

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