I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of finding treasure. My parents found some Native American arrowheads on their property in New York. I also went through a phase of fossil hunting, including looking for fossilized sharks teeth along the Chesapeake Bay and crinoid stems and trilobites in New York. On a visit to the Baltic Sea, we searched for bits of amber on the beach. A number of years ago, we bought an inexpensive metal detector for our girls. Unfortunately, we never found more than a rusty nail using it.
On Monday, I returned to the British Museum to learn a little more about early European history. I especially wanted to learn a bit more about Roman Britain. The Weston Gallery exhibit includes displays of hoards found by ordinary people rather than archeologists. These new discoveries, which were buried for safekeeping during Roman times, help archeologists and historians make better sense of the past.
Using a metal detector, Alan Meeks stumbled upon a significant find in 2002 in Ashwell, Hertfordshire, about 45 miles north of London. Called the Ashwell Hoard, this buried treasure identified a previously unknown goddess, Senuna, who was worshipped during Roman times.
This photo shows some of the items that were part of this hoard. It included these gold plaques that were inscribed to honor this goddess, as well as coins, some jewelry, and a silver figurine.
Wouldn’t it be incredible to find something like this? Unfortunately, many people don’t think to turn in their finds to the proper authorities. The British government’s Department of Culture, Media, and Sport has funded a project called the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Since 1996, finders are obligated to report certain types of finds as treasure to this office in order to preserve the archeological history of the country.