Last ditch plea to save Lindisfarne treasure hoard for the North East

Public fundraising plea to keep Lindisfarne coins, discovered by Richard Mason, for North East reaches its final week

Richard Mason and his father Tom, from Rothbury, who discovered a jar containing ancient coins, while working on Holy Island
Richard Mason and his father Tom, from Rothbury, who discovered a jar containing ancient coins, while working on Holy Island

A last ditch bid has been launched to save a treasure hoard found in Northumberland for the North East.

The pot of gold and silver coins, ranging in date from the 1420s to 1562, was discovered by Richard Mason while renovating a house on Lindisfarne in 2003 - but he did not realise what it contained until 2011.

The hoard ­has been valued at £30,900 by a committee of experts of experts in London and has been declared as treasure.

That gave the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne (SANT) the chance to buy the coins, with applications being made to various national funding bodies.

But a grants condition is that a proportion of the price must be raised locally.

The coins are currently held in the British Museum, and following an appeal in The Journal in June, a total of £1,700 in public donations flowed in.

SANT has now confirmed a £13,000 award from the V & A Purchase Grant Fund, and the Headley Museums Archaeological Acquisitions Scheme has also granted a further £13,000 towards the purchase.

But because the grant conditions stipulate that some of the funds must be raised locally, another £3,300 needs to be raised in the next two weeks so that the hoard can go on permanent show at the Great North Museum in Newcastle.

Dr Rob Collins, portable antiquities finds liaison officer for the North East, said: “To be awarded £26,000 of funding from various sources is tremendous and the end is in sight to secure this remarkable find.

“But I would urge everyone to donate what they can to keep this unique discovery in the North East. We don’t want to lose this find.”

The hoard is a mixture of English and foreign coins, including a gold scudo coin of Pope Clement VII (1523-34) which is only the third such coin known in the world.

That makes up half of the valuation of the hoard and Dr Collins said that if the money is not raised to buy the treasure for the North East, the Papal coin would be quickly snapped up.

“This extremely rare coin is part of the hoard and should stay in the North East,” he said. “The hoard is very important because its shows the position of the region in England and in Europe.”

The Great North Museum already has a similar jug containing a hoard of 50 silver English and Scottish coins, of Tudor date, which was found in 1962 at the same property on Lindisfarne.

“We very much want to reunite the two finds,” said Dr Collins.

People can donate by sending a cheque to Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, Great North Museum, Claremont Road, Newcastle upon Tyne (cheques to be made out to SANT), or by visiting www.newcastle-antiquaries.org.uk to donate online, or in person in the allocated box at the museum.

Dr Collins said that the latest coin in both pots was dated 1562, indicating that they were placed in the ground by the same person. At the time the island was both a port and military garrison.

“There would have been a lot of traffic and these pots may have been the equivalent of separate funds, possibly created by a merchant for trading in this country and across the North Sea,” said Dr Collins.

The coins in the most recent find stretch across the reigns of Henry VI, VII, VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. Others come from France, the Netherlands and Saxony.

Dr Sarah Glynn, Manager of the Great North Museum: Hancock said: “We are so close now to being able to secure this fantastic hoard of coins and we are extremely grateful for all the support we have received so far.

“It will be wonderful if the hoard can become part of the Great North Museum: Hancock collection and put on display for the people of this region to enjoy.”

Lindsay Allason–Jones, Keeper of the Collections for SANT, said: “It will be tremendous if we can add this to the collection – not just for the society but for the region too.”

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