Hidden Treasure is a History Documentary on BBC. Miranda Krestovnikoff was a host and BBC published this series in 2003. It consists of eight episodes: Lost Goddess, Caesars Gold, Pagan Silver, Cup of Gold, Suffolk Mystery, Riches of Rome, Saxons Vikings and Monsters. Finally, the last episode has a title “Find of the Series”
Miranda Krestovnikoff explores few of the best treasures UK metal detectorists have found in recent years.
Firstly, Miranda tells about the Near-Baldock Hoard. Some hoards include a variety of precious objects arranged in a deliberate way. In fact, they form a ‘structured deposit’. Metal detectorist Alan Meek found the Near-Baldock Hoard in a field in North Hertfordshire. And it comprised, from top to bottom:
- a 15cm silver figurine of a woman (badly corroded);
- two silver arms from a female figure, and
- a collection of gold jewellery including (a pair of disc brooches, a pair of discs linked by a chain, and a gold clasp set with a red carnelian gemstone, engraved with a standing lion resting its paw on a bull’s head or ox skull);
- seven gold votive plaques;
- and 12 silver-alloy votive plaques, which were brittle and fragmentary.
Then Miranda discovers the Winchester Treasure. Archaeologists have found many examples of elaborate personal ornaments worn by the Late Iron Age elite (100 BC-AD 50). But few finds can compare with two sets of gold jewellery. Metal-detectorist Kevan Halls recovered them in a field near Winchester in Hampshire. Each comprised a bracelet, a necklace torc (or neck-ring), and two brooches linked by a chain. Though only one chain was actually recovered.
The objects were found in plough-soil. Archaeologists failed to find any other evidence, how they got there. As a result it remains a mystery. Were they buried for safety, as an offering to the gods, or to accompany the dead on their journey to the underworld?
After the Caesars Gold, it’s a good time to watch an episode about the Leicestershire hoards. In brief, amateur archaeologist Ken Wallace recently discovered this that a field near his Leicestershire home. It contained over 3,000 coins of the Iron Age (700 BC-AD 50). In fact, this is the largest number from a single site in Britain.
Other finds included a Roman cavalryman’s gilded parade-helmet, and enormous quantities of pig bone, spread across the ground like a pavement. The coin pits were enclosed by a boundary ditch with an elaborate entrance. The site must have been a sanctuary dedicated to an unknown Celtic god.
Cup of Gold
Then Miranda researches the Ringlemere Cup. Cups were common grave-goods in the Bronze Age (2200-700 BC). Usually made of pottery, they could sometimes be metal. And very occasionally they could be gold. There are several examples of gold cups from continental Europe. But until recently the only one from Britain was that found in a cairn (a pile of stones over a burial) at Rillaton in Cornwall in the nineteenth century.
Then Cliff Bradshaw found another with his metal-detector on the site of a huge barrow. It was a mound of earth over a burial at Ringlemere in Kent. About the size of a coffee mug, it has thin corrugated sides. It has dots beneath the rim, a rounded base, and a delicate little handle. It was attached by rivets secured with lozenge-shaped washers. All this detail was immediately apparent to the finder. Gold does not corrode but comes out of the ground as untarnished and beautiful as the day it was buried.
Anglo-Saxon bed-burial among other finds carried out by Dave Cummings and John Newman. Has this Suffolk site been a mint, a settlement or sematary?
Riches of Rome
The Wheathampstead burials. St Albans archaeologists have uncovered two of the richest burials from Roman Britain (AD 43-410). It happened after metal-detectorist Dave Phillips showed them some spectacular finds. Also, they recovered a total of 153 separate items, in particular:
- 13 bronze vessels,
- 14 Samian vessels (fine tableware with a red glossy surface),
- nine glass vessels,
- three iron blades,
- two silver brooches (decorated with sea serpents) with their connecting chain,
- a bronze lamp-holder,
- various bronze fittings from a wooden casket,
- various fragments of ivory,
- and a bag full of huntsmen’s arrows.
What sort of people got so many top-of-the-range artefacts after the death?
Saxons Vikings and Monsters
The East Lincolnshire sword. Leading Lincolnshire archaeologist Kevin Leahy recently identified five separate, beautifully decorated pieces of gold. Local metal-detectorist found them, as fittings from a single Anglo-Saxon sword handle of the seventh century AD. There was a pommel cap, two plates from the pommel and the crosspiece respectively, and two ferrules from the hilt itself.
Most important – each bore decoration in gold filigree, the applied wire fused with the metal beneath to form an invisible bond. Garnets had been inset in ‘cabochon’ style. In other words, this means they had not been cut, but were left as pebbles and polished. Also the bottoms of the cells (its a place for garnets) were formed from corrugated gold foil. It reflects the light, making them glitter.
Find of the Series Hidden Treasure
Finally Miranda has a look back. As a result she speaks about the wonderful finds that have featured in the series, as a panel of experts select their favourites. There’s a second chance to marvel at unique Roman jewellery and bronzes, Iron Age gold torques and coin hoards. Plus, a visit to Charlecote Park in Warwickshire as the National Council for Metal Detecting hold their own Find of the Year competition.