Roman treasures set for North Herts Museum thanks to grant funding

The Egyptian mosiac-patterned glass bowls found near Kelshall, dating back to AD 200. Picture: NHDC

The Egyptian mosiac-patterned glass bowls found near Kelshall, dating back to AD 200. Picture: NHDC - Credit: Archant

The team at North Hertfordshire Museum are celebrating after they won £60,000 of grant funding that will ensure Roman treasures stay in the district.

The prospective entrance to the North Hertfordshire Museum in Hitchin, where the artefacts will go o

The prospective entrance to the North Hertfordshire Museum in Hitchin, where the artefacts will go on show. Picture: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

The artefacts date back to the second century and were found in a farmer’s field between Baldock and Royston. They have been described as making up one of the most significant UK finds in recent years.

Staff from the Hitchin-based museum will shortly arrange for the artefacts’ transfer from the British Museum – in whose care they had been placed due to their historical significance.

Councillor Tony Hunter, responsible for community engagement at the district council, said: “We are delighted that these important historical treasures will be staying in North Hertfordshire permanently, and incredibly grateful to the funders for awarding these grants.

“Securing the funding has been a real testament to the tenacity, passion and determination of the museum staff who understand the true significance of these wonderful relics.

The archaeological dig site near Kelshall. Picture: NHDC

The archaeological dig site near Kelshall. Picture: NHDC - Credit: Archant

“We look forward to sharing these finds with visitors to the museum in the future.”

The artefacts were discovered near Kelshall in 2014, with metal detectorist Phil Kirk, from Hitchin, making the initial find before North Herts District Council archaeology officer Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews led a dig.

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The find, dating back to about AD 200, includes colourful mosaic glass dishes thought to have been made in Alexandria, as well as precious metals including a bronze coin dating from around AD 174. There are also copper alloy vessels, jugs and more.

Keith, who is the museum’s curator and heritage access officer, said: “These are once-in-a-lifetime finds, both for the finder and the archaeologists involved.

One of the Roman jugs found at the archaeological dig site near Kelshall. Picture: NHDC

One of the Roman jugs found at the archaeological dig site near Kelshall. Picture: NHDC - Credit: Archant

“It is good to know that, thanks to these grants, we will be able to keep them in North Herts and show them to the wider public.”

The funding to bring the artefacts to Hitchin has come from the Headley Trust, the Arts Council England V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Art Fund, and the Hertfordshire Heritage Fund. There was also a donation of £1,000 from a private donor.

After the artefacts come back from the British Museum, the team in Hitchin will carry out conservation and restoration work before they go on display in permament display cabinets.

To find out more, have a look at northhertsmuseum.org.

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