The Forncett Hoard - Iceni Treasure

(or The Romans Was 'ere!)

One of my favourite local walks takes me beside a large sweeping field running towards a boggy valley bottom that provides pasture for sheep and cover for deer. There is a wide green path leading towards the River Tas that runs a few fields beyond. A lone tree stands sentinel beside the path and I often wonder how old it is as it looks like a useful marker. For sure it can't be Roman although I understand that it was near here that between 1996-97 that a hoard of 381 silver coins was found.

This large and spectacular find was unusual as it contained not only iron age silver units but also denarii both of which can be associated with the revolt of Queen Boudica. Most of the population of Roman Norfolk, probably several hundred thousand, lived in the countryside and dotted among them were Roman-style villas, residences of officials, prosperous landowners or farmers. Perhaps one stood nearby?

336 coins from the Forncett hoard were Iron Age silver units issued of the Iceni tribe which under their King Prasutagus, had become a client kingdom enjoying considerable independence from the ruling Romans. But all that was to change on his death when the Emperor Nero enforced the return of the territory to his rule. The widowed Queen Boudica was having none of it and waged war, attacking and sacking several large Roman towns before defeat.

Only a few miles away from here lies what was then called Venta Icenorum (market place of the Iceni), a large Roman town founded around AD70. So it's fair to assume that hereabouts there were pockets of wealth. Perhaps the pot of coins in the field was the equivalent of our ATS facility at the bank, a convenient deposit for quick cash? Who owned such a vast amount of money and why such a valuable hoard came to be buried in 'my' field can only be guessed at but I know that as I walk, my eyes are constantly drawn to the ploughed earth alongside the grassy path in the hopes that I might just spot another piece of silver glinting through the crop...

 

                     Granny Bonnet