Milton Keynes Hoard

Coordinates: 52°02′08″N 0°42′32″W / 52.0355°N 0.709°W / 52.0355; -0.709

Milton Keynes Hoard
Reproductions of the Milton Keynes Hoard of torcs and bracelets
Material Gold, bronze, pottery
Size 2 gold torcs,
3 gold bracelets,
bronze rod fragment,
pottery bowl
Period/culture Bronze Age Britain (middle to late)
Discovered Monkston, Milton Keynes by Gordon Heritage and Michael Rutland in September, 2000
Present location British Museum, London
Identification 2000 (Fig 5)
P&EE 2002.7-1.1-7

The Milton Keynes Hoard is a hoard of Bronze Age gold found in September 2000 in a field near Monkston, Milton Keynes, England. The hoard consisted of two torcs, three bracelets, and a fragment of bronze rod contained in a pottery vessel. The inclusion of pottery in the find enabled it to be dated to around 1150–800 BC.

Weighing in at 2.020 kg (4.45 lb), the hoard was described by the British Museum as "one of the biggest concentrations of Bronze Age gold known from Britain". The find was deemed important for providing a "social and economic picture" for the period. The hoard was valued at £290,000 and now resides at the British Museum. The metal detectorists who found the hoard were rewarded with 60% of the value after the authorities decided that the landowners' claim that the finders had searched without permission was unfounded.[1]

Milton Keynes has also been the locality of many other finds of antiquity, including several Romano-British hoard finds within a 10–12 miles (16–19 km) radius of the centre of Milton Keynes.



On 7 July 2000, Michael Rutland and Gordon Heritage were metal detecting in a field in Monkston, Milton Keynes at the invitation of local archaeologists who were closing a nearby dig, when they discovered the hoard. They immediately informed the archaeologists, (Brian Giggins, and Paul and Charmian Woodfield) – an action which was later cited as imperative in preserving the historical context of the find. Hayley Bullock of the British Museum was also praised for acting quickly to preserve the site and expedite excavation.[1]


The hoard in its entirety comprises two large gold torcs, three smaller gold bracelets, a fragment of bronze rod or wire, and an undecorated fineware post-Deverel-Rimbury type bowl, standing 100 mm (3.9 in) high and covered with a brown fabric.[1]

The heaviest item (see specifications below, item 1) weighed 626.9 g (22.11 oz); the second torc and bracelet (items 2 and 4 respectively), following X-ray fluorescence analysis at the British Museum, contained the largest amount of gold at 85% each.[1]

The total weight is 2.020 kg (4.45 lb),[2] and the British Museum described it as "one of the biggest concentrations of Bronze Age gold known from Britain and seems to flaunt wealth."[2]

The finders' reporting the hoard in good time ensured "certain association between a gold hoard and pottery for the British Middle to Late Bronze Age (about 1500–800 BC)"[2] could be established. However, the inclusion of pottery in the find confirms and maybe refines the hoard dating. Furthermore, the British Museum stated, "The find provides an invaluable link between gold types and the broader social and economic picture for Bronze Age Britain."[2]

Valuation and disposition

A coroner's inquest declared the finds treasure and valued them at £290,000.[1] Heritage and Rutland were entitled to a share of this with the landowners, English Partnerships. However, because the owners of the land disputed the finders' right to search the land the Treasure Valuation Committee increased the finders' share to 60%, after finding this claim to be unwarranted.[1]

The British Museum acquired the hoard, although replicas (pictured) were made and displayed at the independently run Milton Keynes Museum to commemorate the origin of the find spot.

Item specifications

Item № Description Shape Cross-section Diameter Max bar thickness Weight Gold content (approx)
1 Torc 1 penannular elliptical 143.5 × 135 mm (5.65 × 5.3 in) 15.1 × 11.4 mm (0.59 × 0.45 in) 626.9 g (22.11 oz) 76%
2 Torc 2 penannular elliptical 145.9 × 134.5 mm (5.74 × 5.30 in) 12.9 × 10 mm (0.51 × 0.39 in) 441.3 g (15.57 oz) 85%
3 Bracelet 1 C-shaped elliptical 84.7 × 65 mm (3.33 × 2.6 in) 14.5 × 10.8 mm (0.57 × 0.43 in) 382.6 g (13.50 oz) 84%
4 Bracelet 2 C-shaped elliptical 81.4 × 68.5 mm (3.20 × 2.70 in) 14.4 × 11.2 mm (0.57 × 0.44 in) 408 g (14.4 oz) 85%
5 Bracelet 3 D-shaped octagonal 73.6 × 62.5 mm (2.90 × 2.46 in) 9.2 × 7 mm (0.36 × 0.28 in) 162.5 g (5.73 oz) 84%
6 Bronze fragment rod or wire n/a unspecified unspecified unspecified 0%
7 Pottery vessel n/a n/a Body: 210 mm (8.3 in)
Base: 100 mm (3.9 in)
Height: 100 mm (3.9 in)
n/a unspecified 0%

Other hoards from Milton Keynes and surrounding area

Before the Roman conquest of Britain of 43 the Catuvellauni tribe controlled this area from their hill fort at Danesborough, near Woburn Sands. Under Roman occupation, the area thrived due mainly to the major Roman road, Iter III – later known as Watling Street – which runs through the area, giving rise to an associated Roman town at Magiovinium – now Fenny Stratford. Possibly the oldest known gold coin in Britain was found here, a gold stater of the mid-2nd century BCE.[3] The history of Milton Keynes shows that before its designation as a new town, settlement can be traced back to 2000 BC; therefore, it is perhaps unsurprising that many other hoards have been found within a 10–12 miles (16–19 km) radius of its modern centre.

The Stony Stratford Hoard

Part of the "Stony Stratford" Hoard, on display in the British Museum

52°03′22″N 0°51′52″W / 52.056°N 0.8645°W / 52.056; -0.8645

In 1789, at Windmill Field in the parish of Old Stratford, Northamptonshire (near Stony Stratford in Milton Keynes), an urn was uncovered which contained three fibulae and two headdresses. It also contained around thirty fragments of silver plaques which were decorated with images of the Roman gods Mars, Apollo and Victory. There were also inscriptions to Jupiter and Vulcan leading to theories that this was a votive hoard at a Roman temple.[4]

1849 find on Whaddon Chase and the Little Horwood Hoard

Whaddon: 52°00′00″N 0°49′41″W / 52.000°N 0.828°W / 52.000; -0.828 Little Horwood: 51°58′05″N 0°51′00″W / 51.968°N 0.850°W / 51.968; -0.850

In 1849, while ploughing land near Whaddon, farm workers discovered a hoard of Iron Age gold staters. The amount found, depending on reports, varies between 450[5] to 800[6] and 2,000,[5] but the lack of precision in quantifying the hoard was because "[t]he discovery attracted many persons to the spot, some of whom contrived to get possession of nearly 100 specimens... About 320 reached the hands of [landowner] Mr Lowndes".[7] It was also poorly recorded in the first instance.[5]

In December 2006, in Little Horwood, three metal detectorists found 73 staters, dated from 60–50 BC,[5] of the type that had come to be known as the Whaddon Chase type.[8] Ian Leins, from the British Museum Department of Coins and Medals, stated in the 2005–06 Treasure Annual Report that the proximity to the Whaddon Chase find spot and the type found made it "likely" that this find "represent[s] part of the original hoard that remained undiscovered in 1849." The 2006 staters were valued at a total of £25,000[5] and are now in Buckinghamshire County Museum.[8]

The 2006 staters were discovered by Andrew and Edward Clarkson, and Gordon Heritage – coincidentally one of the discoverers of the Monkston Bronze Age gold hoard. In October 2007, the three men found a further two staters in the same area, also deemed to be part of the original 1849 hoard.[9]

The Whaddon Chase hoard remains the largest of its kind, with only the discovery of the Wickham Market Hoard in 2008 – where 840 gold staters were uncovered in Suffolk – coming close thereafter.[10]

1858 coin hoard at Weston Underwood

52°09′36″N 0°45′18″W / 52.160°N 0.755°W / 52.160; -0.755

On New Year's Eve, 1858 near Weston Underwood, Milton Keynes, an earthenware vessel was found in Whites Close. It contained 166 denarii from the 1st and 2nd century AD, 4 legionary coins, 1 brass coin, an Augustus from 42 BC and 4 of Mark Antony from 30 BC. Also found was a complete 2nd century Samian bowl and other pieces of pottery, including many broken sherds, and even human and horse bones. The Samian bowl now resides at Buckinghamshire County Museum.[11]

1879 Bronze Age hoard at New Bradwell

52°03′53″N 0°47′52″W / 52.0646°N 0.7978°W / 52.0646; -0.7978

In 1879, at New Bradwell near Wolverton, Milton Keynes, a Bronze Age hoard of weapons was found in a "deep cist filled with black earth" where nowadays stands the County Arms Hotel. The hoard comprised nine socketed axes, three broken axes, one palstave, two spearheads and a leaf-shaped sword which had broken into four pieces. The collection now resides at Aylesbury Museum.[12]

Little Brickhill excavations 1962–1964

51°59′46″N 0°42′37″W / 51.996°N 0.7102°W / 51.996; -0.7102

In July 1962, a Romano-British hoard of coins was found in Little Brickhill (just south of Milton Keynes), in very close proximity to Watling Street. It consisted of 251 loose coins and an estimated 400 more which were corroded and had become somewhat amalgamated. The coins, dated 360–365, are now in the possession of the Bletchley Archaeological Society.

Two years later, excavation work nearby uncovered a stone and timber building. The building had been destroyed by fire and 4th century pottery was found on a cobbled floor, along with various sherds from the 4th and 11th to 12th centuries, remnants of a 13th century jug, glass and jet beads, and around 43 coins from Tetricus I (270–273) to Gratian (375–383). The excavation also revealed the burial place of at least 44 people.[13]

More coins at Little Brickhill in 1967 and 1987

51°59′32″N 0°42′00″W / 51.9923°N 0.7001°W / 51.9923; -0.7001

On 20 May 1967, at a site not far from the 1962–1964 Little Brickhill finds, a mechanical digger uncovered a hoard of 296 denarii from the 1st to 2nd century. Hearth tools, pottery, and a fragment of whetstone were also found. Five of the coins are now at the British Museum and the remainder are at the Buckinghamshire County Museum.

After excavation, more finds included a bronze brooch and terret ring. The wider implications of the excavation were that it was discovered that occupation of the area had passed through five phases from the 1st to 4th century of the Romano-British empire.

627 coins were found in 1987 which were ascertained to be from the same hoard.[14]

1987 Walton hoard

52°01′11″N 0°42′42″W / 52.0198°N 0.7117°W / 52.0198; -0.7117

In 1987, metal detectorists found 97 bronze coins spanning 307–317 at a Walton, Milton Keynes building site. It was speculated that this was not the entire sum of the hoard.[15]


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Treasure Annual Report 2000". Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2001. pp. 13–15; 133. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  2. ^ a b c d "The Milton Keynes hoard". British Museum. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  3. ^ "Object 2234: "Gold stater ('Gallo-Belgic A' type)". British Museum. Retrieved 2010-07-27. 
  4. ^ "Monument no. 343084". Pastscape. English Heritage. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Treasure Annual Report 2005-6". Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2007. pp. 95;123. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  6. ^ "Huge Iron Age haul of coins found". BBC. 17 January 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-19. 
  7. ^ "Buckinghamshire Historic Environment Forum – 28th March 2007". Buckinghamshire County Council. p. 70.$ Retrieved 2010-07-27. 
  8. ^ a b "Little Horwood Hoard by Iron Age". The Art Fund. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  9. ^ "Treasure Annual Report 2007". Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2008. p. 87. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  10. ^ Keys, David (17 Jan 2009). "Boudicca's gold hoard unearthed". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-07-27. 
  11. ^ "Monument no. 345364". Pastscape. English Heritage. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  12. ^ "Monument no. 345096". Pastscape. English Heritage. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  13. ^ "Monument no. 344783". Pastscape. English Heritage. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  14. ^ "Monument no. 344788". Pastscape. English Heritage. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  15. ^ "Monument no. 1303067". Pastscape. English Heritage. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 

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