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Garston Philips, Collections Ambassador at the Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum, holds the recently acquired Iron Age gold stater donated by an anonymous benefactor
Image credit Jonathan Barry

James Forrest, writing for the Evesham Journal, reports that –

AN anonymous donor has given a “rare and wonderful” ancient coin to Museums Worcestershire. The donation of the 2000-year-old gold coin saw Christmas come early for museum staff, who were left in tears of joy by the “special” gift. The inscribed Iron Age gold stater, which was produced in about AD 20-40 in the last years before the Roman conquest, was discovered by metal detectorists in the Droitwich area.

Angie Bolton, finds liaison officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Worcestershire, which works with people who discover rare objects, said: “This Iron Age coin is so special in many ways. It was found by two metal detectorists who record their finds with us, changing what we know of Iron Age and Roman Worcestershire.”

Deborah Fox, curator of archaeology and natural history at Museums Worcestershire, added: “We’ve been collecting archaeological finds at Museums Worcestershire since the 1830s and in those 180 years we have only acquired two gold Iron Age staters. They are a real rarity so this donation is overwhelming.”

More here.

 

By Roy Goutté
 
 
On the 17th September 2015 I finally got to see the ‘Jersey Hoard’, a fantastic hoard of mixed silver and copper coins discovered in Jersey back in 2012 and said to weigh three-quarters of a ton! It was my first re-visit to my homeland for 5 years.
 

The hoard has recently been moved and now housed in the museum at La Hougue Bie. Since its discovery, by two metal detectorists, conservators have been removing on average about 500 coins per week out of the estimated total of possibly 50,000! But it’s not only coins making up this most amazing mass, for once coins started being removed, gold torcs and jewellery began to reveal themselves and to date seven torcs have now been exposed! An estimated value of the whole package has been put at over £10m which is a phenomenal amount! Even though they were just recording on the day I was there, you are able to observe the conservators at work as they painstakingly take the hoard apart, cleaning and conserving the contents as they go.

A notice informs you that the coins are made from a mix of silver and copper and why they are now dark green

Also hidden in Jersey’s eastern countryside at La Hougue Bie and within its grounds, lies one of Europe’s finest prehistoric monuments. At the heart of this tranquil site stands a medieval church atop a prehistoric mound under which lies a 6,000-year-old Neolithic Cruciform Armorican Passage Grave. Without a doubt this is the Channel Islands jewel in the crown and an absolute ‘must see’.

Now that the hoard is safely housed in the purposely built lab it is more reason to pay the site a visit. You certainly won’t be disappointed that’s for sure, but do take a torch along with you to view the inside of the passage grave as the lighting is minimal! Alternatively, check out this excellent website that displays the chambered tomb superbly.

Jersey Heritage itself has a very informative website here and here. Within the museum is a fascinating geology and Ice-Age area aside from other coin hoards, axes, swords and spears belonging to Jersey’s Neolithic community.


Just a part of the Ice-Age exhibition

As a reminder of more recent times, especially to the islanders (not that they need reminding that is) is a command bunker built during the German Occupation of Jersey and turned into a memorial dedicated to the slave-workers brought to the Channel Islands by invading Nazi forces during the Second World War and treated abominably. Personally, I chose not to enter this ‘museum in its own right’ as I find it too depressing and in a way not in keeping with the wonder of the other exhibits. Family memories and all that!

That aside, there is a large picnic area where you can enjoy a day out amongst the beautiful surroundings of this mainly peaceful and spiritual site.

A closer look at the hoard through the glass screen of the purposely built lab

A fantastic aerial view of the church atop the mound. The entrance to the passage grave can be observed to the left of the mound

The wonderfully constructed entrance to the passage grave

Both the grave and the church are orientated east/west, the tomb entrance facing east in common fashion. And just when the excitement of discovering the Celtic hoard at Grouville couldn’t have been more, this was then discovered at Trinity …again by a metal detectorist!

Say what you like about metal detectorists but without a doubt they have been responsible for re-writing much of our history by the finds they have made. In many cases it has been in areas not even considered by archaeologists so unlikely to have ever been discovered without their help. Such a shame that they are not given the credit due to them because of a small minority not playing by the rules and getting more attention than they deserve in certain quarters.

 

Images_shield_banner
 
Detail of the Battersea Shield. Iron Age, 350-50bce
©
The Trustees of the British Museum
 
This is the first major exhibition to examine the full history of Celtic art and identity, and is organised in partnership with National Museums Scotland. The story unfolds over 2,500 years, from the first recorded mention of ‘Celts’ to an exploration of contemporary Celtic influences. Discover how this identity has been revived and reinvented over the centuries, across Britain, Europe and beyond.
 
Organised with National Museums Scotland
 
Supported by –
In memory of Melvin R Seiden
Sheila Streek
Stephen and Julie Fitzgerald
Fund for the Future donors
 
CeltsArt and identity exhibition runs at the British Museum from 24 September 2015 – 31 January 2016. More here.
  
 
The Tristan Stone
 
A 1,500 year-old standing stone in Cornwall, marking the grave of a king’s nephew who inspired the Tristan and Isolde legend, is being moved to make way for Wainhomes to build a housing estate and Park and Ride facility. Harriet Arkell, writing in the Mail Online, reports –
 
The ‘Tristan Stone’ was erected 1,500 years ago, reputedly to show the final resting place of Tristan, whose forbidden affair with the beautiful Irish princess Isolde has inspired poets for centuries. But a council has now given a developer permission to move the stone, described by English Heritage as ‘a significant scheduled monument’, to a nearby field so that they can build a housing estate and park and ride next to the site.
 
Mr Bert Bisco , an Independent Councillor on Cornwall Council, is reported by the Mail as saying that, “Such desecration is the equivalent of Napoleon shooting at the Sphinx for target practice.” Mr Biscoe, condemned the decision to shift the ancient obelisk as ‘cultural violence’ and one of the ‘worst attacks on heritage in the world’. He said, “How dare anybody presume to shift it without good reason? Building mundane houses in its vicinity is not good reason.”
 
More here.
 
 
Tristan and Iseult as depicted by Herbert Draper (1863–1920)
Source Wikimedia Commons
   
 
DW reports on a new exhibition of the 2,600 year-old burial chamber of a ‘Celtic Princess’ which was first discovered near Stuttgart in 2010.
 
The burial chamber of the “Celtic Princess of the Danube” unearthed in 2010 remains one of the most important archeological finds of the past decades in Germany. A new exhibition in Stuttgart allows the public to contemplate the riches found in the 2,600-year old grave. Even in plain view, the princess holds on to many secrets which keep puzzling archeologists.
 
No one knows whether the mysteries preserved in this astonishing grave will ever be solved. Archaeologists expect to spend many more years on the case. Before the artifacts go back to the lab for research, the secrets of the Celtic princess are on display in an exhibition center in the courtyard of the New Palace in Stuttgart through December 14, 2014.
 
 

Dr Tim Pestell holding the 3,500 year-old Bronze Age dirk that was found in Norfolk a decade ago
Image credit Steve Adams

Trevor Heaton, writing for EDP24, reports on the spectacular Norfolk treasure that has been unveiled after years of being used as a doorstop –

The 3,500-year-old Rudham Dirk, a ceremonial Middle Bronze Age dagger, was first ploughed up near East Rudham more than a decade ago. But the landowner didn’t realise what it was and was using it to prop open his office door. And the bronze treasure even came close to being thrown in a skip, but luckily archaeologists identified it in time. Now the dirk has been bought for Norfolk for close to £41,000 and is now on display in Norwich Castle Museum.

The 1.9kg (4lb) dirk is made from bronze, which is nine-tenths copper and one-tenth tin. The nearest source for the copper is Wales, while the tin may have come from Cornwall. Straightened out, it would be 68cm long, slightly shorter than the Oxborough example [a similar dirk now in the British Museum]. It may even have been made in the same workshop, maybe even by the same craftsperson.

More here.

 

 

Natalie McCaul, Curator of Archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum, with the gold torc (right) that the Museum is hoping to buy and reunite with one found metres from it at Towton (left) already in the Museum’s collection

Dan Bean, writing in The Press yesterday, reports that –

GOLD jewellery thought to be 2,000-years-old could leave North Yorkshire, if essential funds can not be raised. The gold torcs, or bracelets, are currently on show at the Yorkshire Museum, and are the first items of Iron Age gold jewellery ever found in the north of England. Both pieces were discovered in Towton, near Tadcaster, by metal detectorists in 2010 and 2011, and are believed to have belonged to an extremely wealthy member of the Brigantes tribe, which ruled most of North Yorkshire at the time.
 
The first torc was bought by the museum in January 2012 for £25,000 raised through a public appeal, and the second torc has just been valued at £30,000. About half the funds have already been donated through a local charity, but the museum has until the end of October to raise the rest and keep the items together in North Yorkshire.
 
Full article here.
 
Both torcs will be on show at the Yorkshire Museum until 13 October 2013. To donate to a fund to keep the torc in Britain please visit the Yorkshire Museum website or phone (01904) 687671.
 
 

DW (Deutsche Welle) reports that –
 
The Celts were long considered a barbaric and violent society. But new findings from a 2,600-year-old grave in Germany suggest the ancient people were much more sophisticated than previously thought. The little Bettelbühl stream on the Danube River was completely unknown, except to local residents. But that changed in the summer of 2010 when a spectacular discovery was made just next to the creek.
 

Not far from the Heuneburg, the site of an early Celtic settlement, researchers stumbled upon the elaborate grave of a Celtic princess. In addition to gold and amber, they found a subterranean burial chamber fitted with massive oak beams. It was an archeological sensation that, after 2,600 years, the chamber was completely intact.

Full article here.

 

The 5th-4thbce reconstructed farmstead at The Hochdorf Celtic Museum in Baden-Württemberg, Germany
©
The Heritage Trust
 
The Hochdorf Celtic Museum in Baden-Württemberg, Germany was opened in 1991 and is –
 
…dedicated to the “Celtic Prince of Hochdorf”, his times and his culture [see our feature on the Hochdorf Tumulus below]. An early Celtic settlement from the 5th to 4th century BC was uncovered during the 1990’s in the area of the Celtic Museum and the building area immediately to the south. The excavations revealed the outlines of several farmyards. The reconstruction of a Celtic farmstead in the open area next to the museum was based on these finds.
 
Sadly, this fine, reconstructed farmstead next to the Celtic Museum is now threatened with demolition as developers plan to build a housing complex on the site. If you feel that the farmstead should be preserved, please email your support to the Hochdorf Celtic Museum here.
 
Update
 
We heard today the good news that the farmstead is no longer in danger of being demolished. Many thanks to those who may have emailed the Celtic Museum with their support. At the same time, however, we hear of another Celtic site in Baden-Württemberg that is threatened with closure and will be publishing more details of the situation when we have them.
 
 

 
The reconstructed Hochdorf Tumulus, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
©
The Heritage Trust
 
When the  550bce Hochdorf Tumulus was discovered in 1978 in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, it had been almost completely ploughed out except for a slight elevation in the ground. After its reconstruction in 1987 the mound now measures 60m (200ft) in diameter, is 6m (20ft) tall, and with a volume of 7,000 cubic metres (9,200 cubic yards) of earth and 280 tons of stone, is once again an imposing landmark in the surrounding countryside.
 
More here.
 

The Snettisham Torc in the British Museum. Source Wikimedia Commons. Image credit Ealdgyth

Under the title “The World of the Celts. Centres of power – Treasures of art”, the Baden-Württemberg State Museum of Archaeology and the Württemberg State Museum are showing a special exhibition dedicated to the Celts of the first millennium BC and their role as one of the formative forces in European history.

From 15 September 2012 to 17 February 2013, visitors can experience what will probably be the largest exhibition of Celtic artefacts in the last thirty years. The special exhibition will present outstanding original finds, in some cases objects never before exhibited in Germany, in two large topical blocks on display at two locations near Schlossplatz at the very centre of Stuttgart.

Details here.

 

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