Spectacular exhibition of ancient treasure now open at Buxton Museum

Coins with ceramic money boxes, jewellery, silver and other treasure, including spectacular Iron Age gold torcs and recent prehistoric and Roman discoveries from Wessex are just some of the objects visitors can see at a brand new exhibition at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.

Following on from the hugely successful Hoards display at the British Museum in 2016, Hoards: a hidden history of ancient Britain brings together a glittering of display of finds from the British Museum and The Salisbury Museum exploring the reasons as to why people buried hoards. You can see the local hoards displayed in Buxton Museum’s own new galleries –  plus hoards from museums in Sheffield and Derby.

Open from Saturday 13th April until 16th June, Buxton Museum is the most northerly and only venue in the north and Midlands to host the impressive exhibition, visiting just five venues across the UK.

Why did we bury treasure?

Throughout the display of precious artefacts from the British Museum and The Salisbury Museum, visitors will be able to learn more about why ancient people have placed precious objects underwater and in the ground since the Bronze age. They may have been accidentally lost or stolen, discarded as worthless, saved for recycling, hidden for safekeeping or offered as a gift to the gods, but why were some never retrieved?

Ros Westwood, Buxton Museum and Art Gallery Manager, said,

“People in Buxton and nearby have a rare opportunity to be able to see these beautiful objects in their local gallery, which is fantastic. The amazing workmanship which makes us rethink the past, that these were master craftsmen – if this is the quality of the objects that survive, how amazing were the objects that have been lost; little did the people who buried or lost these items expect that they would survive for so long and in such amazing condition. Each item is an individual time capsule into their world”.

Hoards: a hidden history of ancient Britain

Unique to the Hoards exhibition in Buxton, Peak District photographer Nick Lockett was commissioned to capture a collection of images of locations in Derbyshire – close to various sites of the discovery of caches.

Nick said, “The intention was not to document or record the sites, but rather to try to evoke what must have been going through the mind of the person needing to hide something so valuable. The photographs are a response to the feelings and fears of those who hid, or lost, their fortune. Behind ever unearthed trove there is a mystery that rivals the very best detective fiction – for their loss is real”.

Hoards: a hidden history of ancient Britain

Tracing the story of hoarding from Bronze weapons discovered in the River Thames and the first Iron Age coin hoards, through to hoards buried after the collapse of Roman rule in Britain and in more recent times, the exhibition also showcases recent discoveries reported by finders and archaeologists through the Treasure Act.

Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Leadership, Culture and Tourism, Councillor Barry Lewis, said:

“We’re delighted that these important artefacts are going to be displayed at the council’s only museum. The items offer a fascinating glimpse into the past and explore why people buried their treasure but never returned to reclaim it.

“We are proud to be working with the British Museum, The Salisbury Museum and museums in Derby and Sheffield. Being chosen to host this exhibition only serves to show how well-regarded Buxton Museum is nationally.”

Make treasure chests and design your own coins…

With support from The National Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, Buxton Museum are hosting a wide range of drop-in, free workshops, talks and children’s activities alongside the exhibition. With activities with something for everyone, children can discover more by designing their own coins, making piggy banks, creating their very own dragon puppet to guard their hoard more. School groups are very welcome to visit (arranged in advance) – contact the museum to find more information on 01629 533540 and ask for Scott Russell.

Admission is free to all events and to the museum, donations are welcome. Follow Buxton Museum and Art Gallery on Facebook to find out more.

The Westerham Hoard, a hoard of gold Iron Age coins found inside a hollow flint in 1927 © The Trustees of the British Museum

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said:

“We are delighted to be working with Buxton Museum, and are thrilled that visitors to the Peak District will have the  chance to see the amazing treasures and stories explored in Hoards. This exhibition, organised in partnership with Salisbury Museum, demonstrates the British Museum’s commitment to engage people of all ages throughout the whole of the United Kingdom with archaeology, ancient history and the spectacular objects in our collections. We are particularly pleased that in Buxton there will also be the opportunity to link these objects to the Wonders of the Peak Gallery and to the natural environment.”

‘Hoards: a hidden history of ancient Britain’ is a British Museum and Salisbury Museum partnership exhibition made possible with the support of the Dorset Foundation in memory of Harry M. Weinrebe.

Buxton Museum & Art Gallery, Terrace Road, Buxton, SK17 6DA

T: 01629. 533540

Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm (Sundays and bank holidays, from Easter to September 12 noon to 4pm)

Entry / Cost: Free


Photo credit (top): Two ceramic pots of silver Roman coins found near Selby in Yorkshire © The Trustees of the British Museum

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