The team working on the Celtic coin hoard discovered in Jersey in 2012 is preparing to remove a number of gold items, in what will be one of the most exciting phases of the conservation work.
The team, led by conservator Neil Mahrer, has been working painstakingly to remove, clean and catalogue an estimated 71,000 coins and other items that were buried in a Jersey field 2,000 years ago . The hoard was discovered by metal detectorists Richard Miles and Reg Mead in June 2012.
Using specialist equipment and with advice from the British Museum, Neil Mahrer and his team have removed the top five centimetres of the pile of coins and have now revealed the layer of gold jewellery, which will be carefully extracted over the next week in the specially constructed lab at La Hougue Bie Museum in Grouville, Jersey.
Neil Mahrer said, “When we began the disassembly of the hoard we didn’t know how much jewellery it contained as we could only see a couple of pieces poking out. The hoard is too thick to x—ray so we literally found each piece one by one as we removed the coins atop and around them.
“We have revealed them all over a twelve month period, but we have left them in place until the whole layer was clear and we could laser scan them in situ before removing them. The laser scanner is incredibly accurate and it will enable us to incorporate the data from the jewellery into a bigger 3D computer model we are building”
Olga Finch, Curator of Archaeology at Jersey Heritage said, “The gold torques are important to us because they were important to the Celts. They were the equivalent of royal jewellery to these people and would only have been worn by individuals of high status.
“The torques will be analysed for further clues about the lives of the Celts. As well as engravings on the jewellery, samples can be taken from their hollow cores to get organic material that might reveal more about what was going on at the time, why the hoard was buried and to study the materials used in their manufacture to identify where they came from, giving insights in to travel and trade.”
As well as the torques, the team has recently discovered a number of other items of significance, including a beautifully crafted silver ring, a small blue bead and a 1cm square fragment of woven cloth.
In amongst the largely French coins have been a number from the south coast of England that have helped show links between the two countries, and also re-dated the find to 30 – 40BC.
Jon Carter, Director of Jersey Heritage said, “This is clearly one of the most exciting phases of the work Neil and his team of volunteers has been undertaking. The Le Catillon II Hoard is immensely important to our understanding of what was happening in the Channel Islands at this time, as well as the wider European context.”
La Hougue Bie will be open for one week from the 21st November to enable members of the public to visit and watch the conservation team at work. As each piece is analysed and then cleaned, the hope is to place them on display at Jersey Museum until the end of the year, though no timetable has been set for this yet.
At Easter 2016 a new exhibition of the coin hoard will open at La Hougue Bie, combining the most up-to-date findings from the project and artefacts already removed from the hoard, as well as material from the same period discovered at other Channel Island sites. ENDS