Over the course of contemporary history there have been many important treasure finds in the UK, many of which have redefined the way academics and historians view the history of the UK. And it’s initial formation as well as the thought processes that have allowed it to develop to its current state. Although there are too many to mention, here are a few of the most important treasure finds in the UK, which has shaped our view of the past.
The Sutton Hoo treasure find in Woodbridge, Suffolk, was discovered in an Anglo-Saxon cemetery and is more importantly the site of a ship burial back in the 7th century. The burial site was first discovered in 1939, and contained a great deal of artefacts from very early in medieval history, leading many historians to deem it the very first page of English history. Due to the size of the find and its overall rarity, and beauty, it is often considered by scholars to be one of the most important treasure finds in the UK.
A smaller treasure find, but also of high value was the discovery of the Middleham Jewel in 1985 by Ted Seaton in Middleham, Yorkshire by the side of Middleham Castle. The find was a gothic reliquary pendant that is in a lozenge shape from the 15th century that sold originally at Sotheby’s for £1.3m and later sold again for £2.5m.
Another significant treasure find in the UK was the Cuerdale Hoard which includes a hoard of more than 8,600 items from the Viking period, including bullion and silver coins. The discovery was made by workmen that were digging on the river embankment and was all found sealed within one lead box. Today most of the coins can be seen in the British Museum.
Moving on to the Roman time period, the Mildenhall Treasure in Suffolk was a hoard that contained 33 silver objects from the Roman time period. It was first discovered in 1942, although it took some time for the men who discovered it to realize its value, and report it to authorities. The hoard is thought to be from the 4th century and contains many items of silversmithing with some references to the early sprinklings of Christianity.
Also worth noting is the Hoxne Hoard discovered in 1992 which is about 15,000 silver pieces and coins, tableware, and jewellery from the end of the 4th century and the beginning of the 5th century. This was the largest collection of objects from that time period ever found in the UK and made the list of the top archaeological finds by the British Museum in 2003.