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Ancient tools and weapons over 3,500 years-old displayed in Halesworth

PUBLISHED: 08:54 10 May 2018 | UPDATED: 08:55 10 May 2018

Brian Howard with the Wissett Hoard at Halesworth Museum.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Brian Howard with the Wissett Hoard at Halesworth Museum. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

A hoard of metal tools and weapons which lay hidden beneath the ground for more than 3,500 years have gone on display in Halesworth.

The Wissett Hoard at Halesworth Museum.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Wissett Hoard at Halesworth Museum. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Discovered in a field in the nearby village of Wissett in 2011 by detectorists Chris Frost and Marilyn Throsell, a total of 15 bronze pieces were found buried deep in the ground after the county archaeological team fully excavated the area.

The tools and weapons included axe heads, spears and rapier blades, which they were able to date back to the Middle Bronze Age, around 1500-1150BC.

The hoard was described by Faye Minter, senior archaeological officer for Suffolk, as “one of the best of its kind ever discovered in the area.”

The local treasure was kept by the British Museum, before being bought by Halesworth and District Museum following a funding appeal.

The Wissett Hoard at Halesworth Museum.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Wissett Hoard at Halesworth Museum. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

And after further years of work to raise enough funds to conserve and display the objects properly, a new display case has now been purchased thanks to numerous donations and a grant from SHARE Museums East.

The museum reopened to the public on Monday after being forced to close for essential structural repairs, with the tools and weapons now on display for visitors to see in all their precise detail.

Museum treasurer and trustee Brian Howard said: “We showed them off for the first time in the Wissett Plough in around 2013 which was rather wonderful as we had about 200 people turn up to see them.

“Since then we’ve been working to raise the money to buy the cabinet to put them in.

The Wissett Hoard at Halesworth Museum.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Wissett Hoard at Halesworth Museum. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“It is hugely exciting and a great relief to now have it in place.

“They are very significant in the area and Faye Minter said they are in the top 10 items found by metal detectors in Suffolk.”

Most of the display case is taken up by the Wissett hoard, with space left for a second hoard found at Bramfield in 1839 which the museum is in the process of acquiring.

Pauline Wilcock, chairman of the museum trustees added: “This is a jewel in the crown for the museum and its display marks a new phase in the presentation of our remarkable local holdings.”

The Wissett Hoard at Halesworth Museum.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Wissett Hoard at Halesworth Museum. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Museum displays

Visitors to the museum this summer will also be able to see two displays focused on the First World War – one honouring the men of Halesworth who fell during that war and the other on the work of the Red Cross in treating wounded soldiers at the Patrick Stead Hospital and at Henham Hall.

A third display explores the story of the de Argentein family, mediaeval lords of Halesworth manor who, as well as being cup-bearers to many kings, took part in many of the major events of mediaeval history, including the Battles of Agincourt and Bannockburn. The story of the family will be told more fully later in the year in a book written by local historian, Dave Wollweber and published by the museum.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, May 24, Mr Wollweber will be giving a talk on the meaning of the mediaeval carvings on the house in the Thoroughfare, recently renamed ‘De Argenteins’ restaurant, which have puzzled historians for centuries.

The Wissett Hoard at Halesworth Museum.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Wissett Hoard at Halesworth Museum. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Halesworth and District Museum is in the station building in Halesworth and is open, with admission free, from 10am to 12.30pm Tuesday to Saturday, and from 2pm to 4pm on Wednesdays.

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