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West Berkshire Museum snaps up Iron Age treasure

Coins discovered in Sulhamstead to go on display

West Berkshire Museum snaps up Iron Age treasure

A hoard of Iron Age coins from Sulhamstead dating back more than 2,000 years has been acquired by West Berkshire Museum.

The Sulhamstead hoard comprises eight gold coins – seven gold staters and one quarter stater – from the late Iron Age. 

Staters were used by the Celtic tribes throughout the Iron Age, such as the Atrebates who inhabited Berkshire, Hampshire and West Sussex.

Indeed, the quarter stater is a rare coin particular to East Wiltshire and Berkshire.  

The hoard was unearthed by a metal detectorist from Great Shefford between 2013 and 2015 and a coroner later ruled that the coins were treasure.

The coins were purchased with support from the Friends of the West Berkshire Museum, Sulhamstead Parish Council, the Headley Trust and Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund.

The museum now plans to stage an exhibition of all the hoards in its collection. 

Collections officer at West Berkshire Museum, Ruth Howard, said: “They are a very exciting find.

“The coins are over 2,000 years old and are a tantalising link to the people who lived in West Berkshire before us.” 

All the coins feature an image of a highly-stylised horse reminiscent of the white horse at Uffington, and similar to the Bronze Horse figurine found at Silchester in the late 19th century.

The hoard is believed to have been buried between 30BC and 20BC – after the Roman invasion in 55BC and 54BC by Julius Caesar. 

The coins were found in close proximity to one another and are of the same type and in a similar condition, indicating they are part of the same find.

Archaeologists believe it was probably a small hoard dispersed through ploughing, which makes the recovery of the coins much more significant.

Archaeological officer at West Berkshire Council, Alex Godden, said: “The reporting of these beautiful objects has increased our knowledge of the historic environment of Sulhamstead parish.”

The coins also show long-distance trading patterns with West Berkshire as some came from North West France and one of the coins was struck from a heavily-damaged die known from other finds in the country. 

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