After nearly three years of intensive conservation efforts, the largest Celtic hoard discovered to date has been separated.
Conservation team lead Neil Mahrer said, “This is a significant milestone for the team. It has been painstaking but thoroughly intriguing work, which has delivered some very unexpected and amazing finds along the way. There is still plenty to do and I am sure the Hoard will continue to surprise us as we clean and record the material.”
Amateur metal detectorists Reg Mead and Richard Miles found the hoard in 2012, but it was not a surprise find. 30 years ago, a local woman mentioned that her father had found some Celtic silver in the field in Jersey, and the pair believed there was more to be found. According to Reg Mead, “She told me that in the bottom was an earthenware pot and it shattered all over the field on a very muddy winter’s day and there were silver coins everywhere. They filled a small potato sack up and the rest of the stuff they just ploughed into the ground. When she described them we knew they were Iron Age. I told Richard and we have been searching hard all that time.” However, the farmer who owned the field only let them detect in it once a year, for about 10-15 hours, after his harvest was finished.
Thirty years of patience paid off when the two found several coins, and upon digging deeper, came across a chunk of earth with several coins embedded in it. Rather than excavating it themselves, the two wanted to make sure the archaeological context remained intact, and called in the experts.
Named Catillon II, the hoard contained over 68,000 coins, far more than any other Celtic find to date. The collection also contains gold torcs, leather goods, glass beads, and many other non-numismatic items. Historians believe it was buried around 30-50 BCE, during the rule of Julius Caesar. It was probably buried by French Celts fleeing Roman invasion. The government of Jersey must now decide whether they will pay to keep the hoard on the island, or allow it to be sold. It is valued at around 10 million pounds.
(All photos copyright Jersey Heritage.)