Fabulous Snettisham treasures go on show at Lynn Museum
PUBLISHED: 09:25 12 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:00 12 March 2019
Priceless treasures unearthed from a farmer’s field are set to go on show in Norfolk.
Three items from the famous Snettisham Treasure, discovered near the village 60 years ago, are going on show at Lynn Museum for the first time today.
On loan from the British Museum, two gold torcs (neck rings) are now on display, along with a composite object made of copper alloy. The Snettisham Treasure can be viewed until August 18.
Museum curator Oliver Bone said: “I am delighted that we have the opportunity to display these beautiful and important items so close to where they were found for the first time. It’s incredible to think they were made, used and buried more than two thousand years ago. These precious artefacts connect us with our ancestors and their way of life from all that time ago.”
Julia Farley, curator at the British Museum, said: “I’m so excited that some of the Snettisham torcs will be going on display close to their find spot for the very first time. It’s always a pleasure to share the British Museum collection with new audiences, and I hope that people will enjoy the chance to see these beautiful objects at Kings Lynn Museum.”
The Snettisham Treasure is the largest assemblage of Iron Age bronze, silver and gold objects found in Europe. It consists of a number of separately buried hoards containing torcs, coins, ingots and other objects. The torcs are the most striking feature of this treasure. Torcs have been retrieved from Iron Age sites across Britain, but more have been found in Norfolk than in any other county.
In November 1948 a field near Snettisham was being deep ploughed for the first time. It was during this process that 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. They immediately identified them as Iron Age torcs made from gold.
Williamson’s discoveries had already become known as the Snettisham Treasure when two years later ploughman Tom Rout unearthed another torc. This torc was massive – a whole kilogram of expertly-crafted gold. 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.
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. This suggested that there might be further hoards in the field.
Dr Ian Stead from The British Museum launched intensive excavations which revealed four further hoards. Then, on the last day of the excavation archaeologists made an amazing discovery. They uncovered a fifth pit containing bronze and silver torcs and buried beneath were even more torcs of bronze, silver and gold. Two of these torcs are displayed here.