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Treasures from priceless ancient Snettisham Hoard go on show in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 08:13 08 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:02 09 April 2019

The lower layer of the fifth hoard excavated in 1990. Two of these torcs now at Lynn Museum are displayed here  Picture: British Museum

The lower layer of the fifth hoard excavated in 1990. Two of these torcs now at Lynn Museum are displayed here Picture: British Museum

Archant

Gold flashed in the sunshine as a ploughman found his fortune in a Norfolk field.

Ivy Wiley visits the British Museum in the 1980s, to see the torc found by her late husband Tom Rout.  Picture: Alan WileyIvy Wiley visits the British Museum in the 1980s, to see the torc found by her late husband Tom Rout. Picture: Alan Wiley

An Iron Age torc found at Snettisham, in 1950, was one of more than 100 treasures which would later be found in a field near the village over the next three decades.

The intricately-made neck rings were said to be so fine they could have belonged to royalty from the Iceni Tribe.

Part of the collection - usually housed at the British Museum - has been loaned to Lynn Museum for the summer.

Tom Rout on his ntractor ploughing  Picture: ArchantTom Rout on his ntractor ploughing Picture: Archant

In November 1948 a field near Snettisham was being deep ploughed for the first time. Farm worker Raymond Williamson’s ploughshare uncovered a large metal object. Assuming that it was part of an old brass bedstead, he placed it on the edge of the field where it lay for several days. Experts from Norwich Castle Museum were only contacted after more artefacts were uncovered.

Williamson’s discoveries had already become known as the Snettisham Treasure when two years later ploughman Tom Rout unearthed a massive torc weighing 1kg.

Now known as the Great Torc, it is on permanent display at the British Museum in London. Over subsequent decades, a dozen or so major finds were made in the area.

One of the torcs found in Snettisham, dated 12th November 1991. Photo: Archant LibraryOne of the torcs found in Snettisham, dated 12th November 1991. Photo: Archant Library

Speaking in 1991 Mr Rout’s widow Ivy Wiley recalled the day her first husband told her of his find.

“He was very proud of what he did,” she said. “We all knew at the time that he was contributing to history. It gives me a great thrill to think of Tom’s find. I will never forget what he did.”

Mrs Wiley and Mr Rout were engaged at the time and couldn’t afford to get married on a farm labourer’s £5-a-week wage, but the British Museum gave Mr Rout a cheque for £1,850 for the torc after it was declared treasure trove at an inquest, which in todays money would equate to around £62,867.60.

Scan of the book cover and Lily and Leah of Snettisham Primary explaining that it was easy for the Iceni to cut ‘nests’ in the carstone on Ken Hill to hide their gold torcs because school pupils have carved their initials in the carstone of the school wall!Scan of the book cover and Lily and Leah of Snettisham Primary explaining that it was easy for the Iceni to cut ‘nests’ in the carstone on Ken Hill to hide their gold torcs because school pupils have carved their initials in the carstone of the school wall!

In 1989 metal detectorist Cecil Hodder was granted permission to detect on the site. At first he found little, however in August 1990 he uncovered a large pile of metal scraps in a bronze container.

Dr Ian Stead from The British Museum launched intensive excavations which revealed further hoards, including a pit containing gold, silver and bronze torcs.

Items from this latest find are on display at the museum until August 2019.

An EDP front page records the find  Picture: Chris BishopAn EDP front page records the find Picture: Chris Bishop

Torcs (Snettisham Treasure/hoard) at the Castle Museum, dated 7th December 1991. Photo: Archant LibraryTorcs (Snettisham Treasure/hoard) at the Castle Museum, dated 7th December 1991. Photo: Archant Library

Ivy Riley, widow of Thomas Rout, looks at part of the display of torcs, which were found in Snettisham, on loan to the Castle Museum, dated 7th December 1991. Photo: Archant LibraryIvy Riley, widow of Thomas Rout, looks at part of the display of torcs, which were found in Snettisham, on loan to the Castle Museum, dated 7th December 1991. Photo: Archant Library



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