Jersey Heritage has purchased a large part of the Le Câtillon I hoard, discovered in the Island in 1957, and says it highlights the need for modern legislation to protect portable antiquities found in the Island.
The new acquisition cost £38,000 and comprises around 1,600 coins and 35 pieces of jewellery dating back to the Iron Age. The sale was secured through Martel Maides Auctions on behalf of vendors, who wish to remain anonymous. Jersey Heritage used its Patrons & Benefactors scheme to fund the purchase.
At approximately two-thirds of the known hoard total, the items represent a substantial and important addition to the Island’s knowledge of Le Câtillon I, which was discovered on 22 January 1957, in the same Grouville field that produced the record-breaking Le Câtillon II hoard in July 2012.
The 1957 hoard was not claimed by the Crown under the customary law of Jersey at the time of discovery and much of it was subsequently dispersed by sale without being recorded. As a result, the exact nature of the find has been a matter of some uncertainty but the Société Jersiaise and Jersey Heritage have since made a number of purchases, both privately and at auction, to recover parts of the hoard, including some jewellery and an important gold stater. A number of finds were also donated to the Museum around the time of discovery.
The latest items acquired were recently disclaimed by the Crown (after reviewing the situation more than 60 years after the discovery, it was considered the passage of time introduced potential complications to a claim) and this cleared the way for a private sale.
Jonathan Carter, Chief Executive of Jersey Heritage, said: “We are very grateful to the vendors for making these items available for acquisition so that we can secure them in a public museum collection, where such objects belong. The 1957 hoard is part of the context of the more recent Le Câtillon II discovery and will help our research into understandingwhat was happening in the Channel Islands during the Iron Age. That so much time has passed between discovery and acquisition illustrates the need for modern legislation to protect the interests of all involved in archaeology and we welcome that fact that this is something the Government of Jersey is now addressing.”
Philip de Jersey, the States of Guernsey archaeologist who is an expert in Celtic coins and advised Jersey Heritage on the new acquisition, said: “The Le Câtillon finds are without a doubt one of the most significant Iron Age discoveries anywhere in Europe, and any opportunity we have to improve our understanding of them is to be welcomed. The purchase of these coins and jewellery from the 1957 find is particularly important because these items were never properly recorded at the time, and now at last we have the chance to examine them in detail.”
The coins and jewellery will now be conserved by Jersey Heritage and prepared for display alongside items from the Le Câtillon II 2012 hoard.