Bid to keep Island hoard in the region

The hoard of silver and gold coins found on Holy Island.
The hoard of silver and gold coins found on Holy Island.

A secret hoard of gold and silver coins recently found on Holy island by a builder has now been officially declared treasure and the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne (SANT) needs to raise £30,900 to keep it in the North East.

SANT is applying to several grant-giving bodies to raise the bulk of the £30,900 required to secure the hoard for the North East, but needs to raise at least £7,000 of this amount locally.

SANT only has six weeks to raise the money, which will enable the hoard to go on permanent display at the Great North Museum: Hancock for people who live in or visit the region to appreciate.

Dr Rob Collins, the portable antiquities finds liaison officer for the North East, was approached by Richard Mason, from Rothbury, who found a pottery jug while renovating a house on Holy Island in 2003, but did not realise what it contained until 2011.

Dr Collins said: “This is a remarkable discovery and in light of the recent success of the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to the region it would be very sad to see this treasure leave the North East.”

Dr Sarah Glynn, manager of the Great North Museum: Hancock, said: “We urge everybody to help support the preservation and retention of our region’s fascinating history; this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Please help ‘Save the Hoard’.”

As reported in the Gazette last year, the Lindisfarne Hoard was featured in episode six of Britain’s Secret Treasures on ITV.

People can donate by sending a cheque payable to SANT to Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, Great North Museum, Claremont Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, by visiting the website or in person in the allocated box at the museum.

The 16th-century coins in the hoard span the reign of six sovereigns of England and several European states with one of the coins, a gold scudo (old Italian currency) of Pope Clement VII (1523-34) and a very rare find in Britain, worth £30,000 alone.

The oldest coin in the hoard is a silver groat of King Henry VI, minted in the late 1420s or early 1430s, and the latest is a silver sixpence of Queen Elizabeth I, minted in London in 1562.

SANT already owns a similar jug containing a hoard of 50 silver coins, also of Elizabethan date which, astonishingly, was found in 1962 at the same property on Lindisfarne.

Lindsay Allason–Jones, keeper of the collections for the Society, said: “As Lindisfarne in the Elizabethan period was used largely as a military garrison, with the Priory used as a supply base, it is possible that the original owner of the two hoards was a military officer who had seen service on the continent.”