Is Norwich a gold mine for buried treasure?

Barrie Sharrock, 67, has been a metal detector for the last 26 years and is chairman of the local gr

There are plenty of metal detectorists in Norfolk. - Credit: Archant

People exploring Norfolk are the second most likely across the country to stumble upon a piece of buried treasure - thanks in part to Norwich's medieval roots.

New analysis shows there have been 8,775 pieces of buried treasure found in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 2012 to 2019, according to government data.

Norfolk has long been a haven for treasure hunters, with the county seeing the highest number of finds in the seven-year period - 917. 

A study by jewellerybox.co.uk, using the data and population figures from the Office for National Statistics, found people on the Isle Wight are most likely to come into contact with treasure, with 129 finds per 100,000 people. 

Coins from the Hoxne hoard - the richest find of treasure from Roman Britain Picture: British Museu

Coins from the Hoxne hoard - the richest find of treasure from Roman Britain Picture: British Museum - Credit: Archant

Norfolk came in close second, with a rate of 100. Suffolk's figure was 76.3.


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Notable finds in Norfolk since 2012 include a Medieval chandelier and Bronze Age sword, as well as the pendant and necklace discovered by a student detectorist.

The biggest hoard of late Roman silver and gold in Britain was on the Suffolk-Norfolk border at Hoxne, in 1992.

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It included 14,865 gold, silver and bronze Roman coins and 200 pieces of silver tableware and gold jewellery.

In February, six gold aurei of Augustus coins found by Damon and Denise Pye on land near Norwich in 2017 were declared as treasure by the British Museum.

Dr Helen Geake, who looks after treasure finds for Norfolk, said there were three main reasons for the area's high rate.

"We have a lot of metal detectorists," she said. "We have been working very closely with people who find things for longer than anywhere else.

Metal detectorist Damon Pye who found some gold Roman coins.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Metal detectorist Damon Pye who found some gold Roman coins.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

"We have a lot of arable land so there's land for them to go on, and a lot of people who knows farmers."

She said the third reason came from the county's history - Norfolk was historically a rich county, with Norwich once the biggest city in medieval England, meaning that there were more items of interest for people to leave behind or lose over the years.

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