Lindisfarne hoard to stay in North East

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

The public campaign, by the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne (SANT), to raise funds to buy the hoard of Tudor coins found on Lindisfarne has been successful – with the hoard going on display in the Great North Museum: Hancock today.

The hoard, unearthed by Rothbury builder Richard Mason, will now go on permanent display in the Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle, alongside the ‘sister hoard’ of silver coins found at the same location in the 1960s already part of the SANT collection – believed to have belonged to the same person.

Although the bulk of the money came from heritage grants, the grant conditions stipulated that a portion of the funds must be raised locally – and the acquisition of this significant archaeological find would not have been possible without the generosity of public donations of just under £5,000.

Lindsay Allason–Jones, keeper of the collections for SANT said: “For this hoard to join the Society’s collection is tremendous – that the public generously supported us to keep it in the North East region makes it even more special. Thank you to everyone who helped ‘Save the Hoard.”

Andrew Parkin, keeper of archaeology at the Great North Museum: Hancock said: “We are very grateful to everyone who has made this happen – it will be now displayed permanently in the museum for everyone to enjoy. We are over the moon.”

Dr Rob Collins, the Portable Antiquities Finds Liaison Officer for the North East was approached by Mr Mason who originally found a pottery jug while he was renovating a house on Holy Island in 2003, but did not realise what it contained until 2011; the hoard is often referred to as the Mason hoard in academic circles after its finder.

Dr Collins said: “I’m proud to be part of this immense effort to keep this remarkable treasure in the North East.”

One of the most valuable coins is a very rare find – a gold scudo (an old Italian currency) of Pope Clement VII (1523-34), the Pope who refused to grant King Henry VIII an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, sparking the reformation of the church in England.

SANT were awarded £13,000 from the V & A Purchase Grant Fund, and the Headley Museums Archaeological Acquisitions Scheme granted a further £13,000 towards the purchase.

The Lindisfarne Hoard was featured in the Gazette after Mr Mason contacted the paper when he discovered how valuable the coins were. They went on to be part of a series on ITV.

The 16th centure coins in the hoard span the reign of six sovereigns of England and several European states; 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.