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05.01.2021

Ipswich Hoard

There are two known hoards of Ipswich . The first was a hoard of Anglo-Saxon coins discovered in 1863. The second is a hoard of six Iron Age gold ends, discovered in 1968 and 1969. The latter hoard has been described as the second most important hoard from the Iron Age after the Snettisham Hoard and is kept in the British Museum .

The first hoard was found in a clay pot buried about 10 feet (3.0 m) from the threshold of a house on the corner of Old Buttermarket and St Lawrence Lane in Ipswich that had formerly belonged to the numismatist James Conder (1763-1823). When it was demolished during the widening of the road in 1863. It is reported to have consisted of 150 coins, although only 75 are now known. All the coins were silver pennies of the reign of Ethelred the Unready, minted in London and Ipswich. One is tempted to connect this find with the ruin of Ipswich, which occurred in 991. However, the keys in the coins indicate that the hoard may have been deposited between 979 and 985.

Five neck ornaments, called torsos, were discovered in 1968 by the operator of a mechanical excavator who was preparing the ground for a new dwelling in Belstead , near Ipswich, for which the driver received £45,000; a sixth torso of slightly different design was discovered a year later by the owner of a newly built house while sorting a pile of earth left by a building in his garden, for which he received £9,000.

The ends were made by twisting two strands of large diameter wire around each other and forming them into a close circle. The ends of the twisted wire are finished with terminal decorations. They are made of green gold, as there is less silver in them than in later finds. Leading experts at the British Museum date their manufacture to about 75 B.C. However, the torcs may have been used for many generations before they were hidden. The museum estimates that the maximum neck diameter of the people who wore these bracelets was 18.7 cm (7.4 inches).

They were created from wax around the ends of the wire. The wax is then coated at least once with a ceramic slurry and left to harden. The ceramic is then heated, allowing the wax to escape, and gold is poured into the cavity. This melting wax model process allows the terminals to incorporate the level of detail that was originally created on the wax. The terminals created for these ends were hollow. Each of the terminals has a slightly different design for the left and right terminals.

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