Archaeologists put world's largest hoard of Celtic coins on display at Jersey Museum

By Ben Miller | 29 May 2014

The world's largest collection of Celtic coins - found after a thirty year quest by metal detectorists - is going on display at Jersey Museum and Art Gallery from June 3

Click on the picture to launch the gallery

Two years after a pair of metal detectorists found the world’s largest collection of buried Celtic coins, the Le Catillon II hoard is about to go on public display in a tale of life in northern France and the Channel Islands, covering the Roman occupation of Gaul and featuring a Roman chariot burial from Normandy.

A photo of a dark green and yellow archaeological beaker on a white plinth
An imported pot© Jersey Heritage
Reg Mead and Richard Miles spent 30 years searching for the coins before triumphing in 2012. More than 70,000 pieces are thought to be clumped in the solid mound of metal and earth, weighing three quarters of a ton and left as it was when it was gingerly lifted from the soil.

A glass-fronted mock-up laboratory at the exhibition’s core will deconstruct the treasure through conservation insights, dating the coins to the Coriosolitae tribe of 2,000 years ago, who were based around Rance, in the area modern-day St Malo and Dinan.

Each coin took six minutes to clean and preserve. Some of them would have crossed the Iron Age sea to Jersey, keeping them from the campaigns of Julius Caesar which drove tribal communities to the coast. Their burial may have been the ultimate way to save them.

A photo of an ancient dark brown and yellow archaeological pot
A farmer's wife told the metal detectorists about the hoard© Jersey Heritage
“This is a bold and innovative exhibition of some of the finest artefacts from the Roman-Celtic era,” says Jon Carter, the Director of Jersey Heritage.

“Together they tell a fascinating story of life in this area 2,000 years ago.

“Of course the coins are the centrepiece and we are very excited about what the hoard might yield, but it is important to put those coins in context and with the help of colleagues in Guernsey and France we have been able to do that.”

The British Museum is also advising the island team on their important conservation work. Timbers from a Gallic-Roman galley which burned and sank in Guernsey, discovered by a 1980s scallop diver and held by the Mary Rose Trust, will go on show for the first time alongside the display.

Treasure: Uncovering Celts and Romans is at Jersey Museum and Art Gallery from June 3 – December 31 2014.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of a series of circular intricately inscribed light brown coins on a grey surface
The cleaned coins proved to be Coriosolite - originating from the tribe who controlled the area of the French coast closest to Jersey at the time of the Roman invasion© Jersey Heritage
A photo of a mock-up white recreation of a pile of ancient coins
A rubber mould of the hoard was made by conservators© Jersey Heritage
A photo of sections of a recreation of a stack of gold coins
Three replica sections of the hoard© Jersey Heritage
A photo of various gold and green tinted ancient coins piled on top of one another
A hole under the hoard revealed a new base level© Jersey Heritage
A close-up photo of ancient coins which have been mottled green embedded in brown
Spot the difference between a resin copy of the hoard and the real thing© Jersey Heritage
A photo of a clump of ancient green coins in mud and a white recreation next to it
The delicate process of preserving the hoard has been ongoing for two years© Jersey Heritage
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