The largest hoard of gold coins in the UK

“Treasure from West Norfolk” contains 131 gold coins of various issues and dated to the beginning of the 7th century. It includes 122 Frankish tremissas, 9 Byzantine solidi, bracteate – a thin disc-plate with an embossing on one side, and two more items that, according to experts, were parts of jewelry. Such a set may indicate that the owner of the hoard was evaluating it by weight, and not by denominations of coins.

As often happens in Great Britain, the treasure was found not by archaeologists, but by citizens who are fond of searching for ancient artifacts using metal detectors. According to British laws (Treasure Act of 1996), the search engine must have permission from the landowner, and the find itself must be presented to a special coroner. Two or more coins found in one place, more than 300 years old, containing more than 10% of the precious metal, are considered worthy of the crown’s interest. In such a case, the accredited museum can redeem the treasure from the discoverer and landowner at full market value after expert judgment.

Фото: Norfolk Castle Museum,

In the case of the West Norfolk Treasure, the situation is much more complicated. Most of the items from this treasure were found between 2014 and 2020. Both the search engine and the owner of the land on which the treasure was found chose to remain anonymous to the press. Another ten coins were found by a local policeman, who also received the right to this from the owner of the land. But later he hid from the relevant authorities that the coins were found in one place, and tried to sell them as single finds. However, the deception was exposed, and in 2017 a police officer was found guilty of theft, dismissed from service and sentenced to 16 months in prison. Up to this point, the policeman managed to sell two coins. And one coin found before the Treasure Act was passed is not officially counted as part of the West Norfolk Treasure.

Фото: Norfolk Castle Museum,

According to scientists, the discovery of a hoard of coins that were not minted in England reflects its ties with continental Europe, as well as the financial capabilities of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Exploring the West Norfolk Treasure along with other famous treasures of the era, such as Staffordshire or the funerary inventory of the famous burial ground Sutton-Hu, will help to understand how the systems of exchange and trade of Britain and Europe were formed in the 6th-7th centuries, as well as the significance of the Kingdom of the East Angles, which occupied the territory of Norfolk and Suffolk in the 6th-9th centuries.

Source: Автономная некоммерческая организация "Редакция журнала «Наука и жизнь»" by

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