Yorkshire Museum

Wold Newton Hoard

The Hoard

The discovery of the Wold Newton Hoard offered a rare opportunity to keep a very important Roman hoard in a public collection. Study of the hoard will help archaeologists reshape our understanding of a crucial period in the history of York, Yorkshire and Europe.

The hoard can be dated quite precisely, with the latest coins in the hoard suggesting it was hidden in 307. This is shortly after the death of the emperor Constantius in York, and the rise to power of his son, Constantine the Great. The hoard provides a link to events which would reshape the empire and the history of Europe.

The Wold Newton hoard is the largest of that period found in northern Britain. It contains 1,857 copper coins which were concealed within a ceramic pot. This is a large store of wealth, roughly equivalent to a legionary’s annual salary, three year’s salary for a carpenter or six years for a farm labourer. It could buy 700 chickens, 2,000 of the finest fish or 11,000 pints of beer!

 

The Discovery

The hoard was found by metal detectorist David Blakey near the village of Wold Newton, East Yorkshire, in 2014.

He filmed its discovery and immediately reported it to the Portable Antiquities Scheme rather than emptying it out. This has allowed archaeologists the rare opportunity to excavate it in different layers to see how coins were added to the vessel.

Insect remains attached to some of the coins also offer another way of analysing the contents. All this means there is huge potential for getting a greater understanding of the period and why it was buried.

Find out more about the discovery and recording of the hoard in this blog entry by PAS Finds Liaison Officer Rebecca Griffiths, and watch the video below for footage of the hoard being uncovered.

 

The Appeal

The Yorkshire Museum had four months to raise over £44,000 to keep the hoard in Yorkshire and in public collections. The appeal was launched on 25 July 2016, marking 1,710 years since the death of Constantius in York and his dying wish that Constantine should be his successor.

Andrew Woods, curator of numismatics at the Yorkshire Museum, said:

“This is an absolutely stunning find with a strong connection to one of the most significant periods in York’s Roman history. No hoard of this size from this period has ever been discovered in the north of England before.

“It contains coins minted in York from the time of Constantius who died in the city and then the first to feature Constantine, rising to power. This was a pivotal moment in York’s history but also the history of the western world. It was also a time of great uncertainty in the empire, as different Roman powers looked to challenge Constantine’s claim as emperor.

“We hope to now save the hoard to make sure it stays in Yorkshire for the public to enjoy but also so we can learn more about this fascinating period as well as why it was buried and to whom it might have belonged.”

The success of the fundraising campaign was announced on 10 November 2016, with hundreds of people from around the world having donated. The funding includes a grant of £10,000 from the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and a donation of £9,981 from the American Friends of the Art Fund.

Individual donations by Richard Beleson, in honour of Roger Bland, and Dr Marjorie Gardner and the Late Professor Michael LG Gardner also made generous contributions to make the purchase possible.

Andrew Woods, curator of numismatics at the Yorkshire Museum, said:

“We are thrilled that so many people have given so generously to allow us to buy this hugely significant find. We would like to thank every single person who gave to this appeal and has helped make sure this wonderful collection of coins will stay in Yorkshire and in public collections.

“The hoard is a once in a lifetime find and was buried at a turbulent point in Yorkshire’s history. We hope we will now be able to carry out research on the hoard which may reveal more about what was happening in the county at that time and why it was buried where it was.”

 

Visiting the Hoard

A large portion of the hoard and the ceramic vessel it was found in will be on public display at the Yorkshire Museum until 11 January 2017. The hoard will then be taken for conservation; the full hoard will be revealed at the Eboracum Roman Festival 2017 which takes place 1 to 4 June.