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  • Susan Elaine Jones

A golden hoard

A Hoard

Firstly, spelling is everything. There was a Golden Horde - which I'd never heard of - was the 17th largest in history, whilst the Roman Empire comes in at a mere 24th place.


Wusses in skirts no less.

The Golden Horde followed on from the original Mongolian Horde, which was the second biggest empire (the evil British empire just beats it into top place... the Empire in Star Wars wasn't placed for some reason).

But this is all an aside. Because I didn't see the Golden Horde in Ipswich Museum. I saw the Golden Hoard. Specifically the Wickham Market Golden Hoard! The biggest Iron Age hoard found in Britain. Since 1849 (sod off Whaddon Chase Hoard. It definitely beats the Tal-y-Llyn Hoard with its "1 brass plaque, fragments from two brass shields, several decorated brass plates". That's not a hoard: That's a small pub's wall decorations!)

Wickham Market hoard

I love this hoard, not only because it is so pretty (just loooook how pretty!!!), but because it was found by a bloke who wandered about with a metal detector for 25 years before finding this. He went back in sleet and snow on a promising spot until his metal detector "went doolally". And, knowing for sure he was standing right on top of a crock of gold" he marked the spot with stones, and headed home. He decided not to dig for the coins until the following night—saying "these coins have been waiting two thousand years for me to find them, so they can wait one more night for me"!

That is one seasoned, and sensibly paced, searcher! I've seen a programme about blokes like that. It's worth a watch.

The hoard was acquired by Ipswich Museum, and is in a beautiful display case (that is very securely sealed), most of 840 gold coins are locally minted staters, struck by the Iceni tribe (Boudica's tribe).

"Although it is not known why the hoard was buried, there are several theories including it being a votive hoard, or a communal hoard "collected and buried for the benefit of the community", either as a war chest for an impending threat or as a tribute payment to avert invasion."

Wickham Market Hoard

A war chest hoard! As hoards go, it is worth lots more than the Romano-British coins hoard, also found in Wickham Market. Though there were 1,587 coins in the pot, they weren't gold. And you can see how nail-bitingly exciting it is to find a silver hoard "live" on this video. Whereas gold definitely deserves a dance:

So, if it came down to buried riches (before they got lost), we might have repelled the Roman invasion, and not been part of a crappy little empire before we got around to building our own.

Now, if only we had buried a golden crown instead...

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