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TV historian Dan Snow backs appeal to help St Barbe Museum raise money to buy cache of Celtic coins found buried in New Forest

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A HOARD of ancient coins found buried in the New Forest has been described as one of the “most important historical and archaeological” finds in the area.

The unique, 2,000-year-old cache of 269 Celtic coins contains some that are thought to have never been seen before by historians.

It is considered to be so important that Lymington’s St Barbe Museum has launched a fundraising appeal – dubbed the Celtic Countdown – to ensure it stays close to where it was discovered and available for local people to study.

Some of the coins which will be displayed at the museum
Some of the coins which will be displayed at the museum

Museum director Maria Ragan said: “It is a really, really exciting find. There are 36 coins that the British Museum does not even have in their collection. They have not been seen by historians before.

“That makes the collection totally unique. Historically and archaeologically, it is really important as it is starting to build on our knowledge of how people began to live in the New Forest.

“The display of the coins is just the start of what will be an archaeological investigation into how and why they were left where they were and who by. As they were buried, they could have been an offering to a God or to the land – or it could have been an attempt to avoid tax!”

TV historian Dan Snow has now joined the challenge of helping to raise £7,500 towards the cost of securing the treasure trove from the metal detectorists who discovered it and the owner of the land where it was found.

It has already collected £30,000 in grants from trusts, foundations and individuals’ donations.

A trio of treasure hunters discovered the hoard in 2018. It was then excavated by an archaeologist before being sent to the British Museum to be studied and catalogued.

Ms Ragan said: “When they were doing soil analysis, they actually discovered tiny coins in it that had not been noticed initially. The bulk of the hoard is fairly common Celtic coins, but 36 coins in particular are very unusual and quite unique.

“The coins, some of which bear images of wild boars, horses and even three men in a boat, are very detailed designs and were all made in the UK.

St Barbe Museum has launched the appeal
St Barbe Museum has launched the appeal

“Found along with them was a copper buckle, an iron loop and a silver ingot.”

The British Museum declared the find a treasure trove – meaning it was buried deliberately – and, as such, half of it belonged to the people who found it and half to the landowner.

Ms Ragan said: “In those circumstances the British Museum encourages the hoard to be offered to a museum local to where it was discovered.

“We are so excited to be able to display it and have it as part of our permanent collections, as for local people it really is a precious hoard.”

St Barbe is hoping to raise the additional £7,500 during the Big Give, a national campaign for charities running for a week starting on 30th November. All donations made during it are match-funded.

Mr Snow will be livestreaming online an interview with trustee Professor Tony King about the Celtic hoard on St Barbe social media on Monday 29th November at 5.30pm to kickstart the fundraiser.

Mr Snow previously helped the museum to raise the money to buy a collection of 1,608 Roman coins found in a field in Boldre in 2014.

Ms Ragan said: “He is very excited about the coins, especially the ones that have not been seen before. We are very grateful to him for his support. As someone who lives in the New Forest he knows how important finds like this are.”

For more information visit www.stbarbe-museum.org.uk/2021/11/09/celtic-countdown

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