Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Saturday, 17 January 2009

Huge Iron Age haul of coins found

The haul of coins (Photo: Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service)
The 824 gold staters were found in a broken pottery jar

One of the UK's largest hauls of Iron Age gold coins has been found in Suffolk.

The 824 so-called staters were found, using a metal detector, in a broken pottery jar buried in a field near Wickham Market.

Jude Plouviez, of the Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service, said the coins dated from 40BC to AD15.

They are thought to have been minted by predecessors of the Iceni Queen Boudicca.

Ms Plouviez said their value when in circulation had been estimated at a modern equivalent of between 500,000 and 1m, but they were likely to be worth less than that now.

Wealthy tribes

"It's a good, exciting find. It gives us a lot of new information about the late Iron Age, and particularly East Anglia in the late Iron Age.

"The discovery is important because it highlights the probable political, economic and religious importance of an area.

"It certainly suggests there was a significant settlement nearby. As far as we understand, it was occupied by wealthy tribes or subtribes," she said.

Ms Plouviez said the find was the largest collection of Iron Age gold coins found in Britain since 1849, when a farm worker unearthed between 800 and 2,000 gold staters in a field near Milton Keynes.

Secret excavations

She said secret excavations had been carried out on the latest find in Suffolk after a man reported it to the council's archaeological service in October.

The staters, which each weigh about 5g, will now be valued ahead of a treasure trove inquest.

"We don't know how much they will be worth but it will be less than they were at the time," said Ms Plouviez.

"After the treasure trove inquest, they will be offered to museums at their current value."

She said the exact location of the find would not be made public but added "thorough" searches of the area had not uncovered any further artefacts.

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