Exhibition: Discover Hallaton’s Iron Age Treasure, Manor House Museum, Kettering, until November 27 2010
Rather than coming through the efforts of professional archaeologists, many of the UK's most important archaeological finds of the past 25 years have arrived through discoveries made by an army of enthusiastic amateurs.
One such group was the Hallaton Fieldwork Group, who found some pottery in a field outside Hallaton in Southeast Leicestershire in 2000. Returning with a metal detector, they were astonished to find themselves unearthing hundreds of Iron Age coins.
Ken Wallace of the group reported the find through the Portable Antiquities Scheme, setting in motion four years of excavations by the voluntary group working with the University of Leicester's Archaeological Services.
Ken and his colleagues had unearthed one of the most important Iron Age sites in Britain. The Hallaton Horde was eventually acquired by Leicestershire County Council for display at Harborough Museum, where the specially designed Hallaton Treasure Gallery opened in September 2009.
Comprising more than 5,000 Iron Age and Roman coins, the treasure contained an array of fascinating items ranging from a mysterious Roman Cavalry helmet to unknown silver objects and dog skeletons.
The presence of the Roman helmet in an Iron Age site has continued to puzzle archaeologists, and these and other questions are explored in this exhibition at Kettering's Manor House Museum. The show looks at the remarkable discovery through the words of the people who made it and a selection of the coins and replica objects.
Found in an open air Iron Age shrine dated by archaeologists to somewhere between 50 BC and the Roman invasion of AD 43, it is now thought that the treasure was buried between AD 1 and AD 60 – at the end of the Iron Age.
Most of the objects were probably buried as gifts to the Gods in return for divine favours. Given the timing and the Roman invasion, it is likely that people were asking for help from above during a period of uncertainty and fear.
Visitors to the Museum can watch a film about the discovery and interpretation of the Horde and find out more about it thanks to an interactive touch screen display.
Twenty of the beautifully preserved coins found are on display and the replica objects, which include the Roman Helmet, give an idea of what the finds would have looked like when they were buried 2,000 years ago.