The Hoard in the Humerus The Sedgeford gold hoard was found at Sedgeford, located in the East Anglian region of England. England is dominated by a wealth of archaeological finds, from prehistoric, through Roman and Anglo-Saxon, to more recent military archaeology from the first and second world wars. Sedgeford itself is located in a very flat landscape, which is dominated by Anglo-Saxon archaeology, featuring such famous figures as Boudicea, Queen of the Iceni (Moshenka, 2005). The Find The gold hoard at Sedgeford is one of only two in the United Kingdom to have been found preserved inside a piece of animal bone. Although it is unsure why precisely it was stored here, it seems safe to assume that this was some sort of treasure hiding mechanism because the hoard was found in a context that would allow for easy finding and retreival of the object. Aside from the rarity of finding such a large hoard of 39 coins, plus the excitement of finding the hoard inside a well preserved animal bone, the site is also interesting because coinage is usually found by metal detectorists who will generally not record a context or any information about the location. This hoard, however, was found in general meticulous archaeology and therefore can be studied in the context of the site, the soil and other information which is widely available on the internet for the dig site (Faulkner, 2009). The hoard in question has been dated to around 60-50BC because of similar coin finds across England and France. The coins
themselves are of a type known as Gallo-Belgic E staters, and many of them have been found previously, although none in a cow humerus as in this case. The dating on this hoard was made much simpler by previous dating of similar coins of the same type, brought across to England by soldiers or mercenaries who may have received them as payment for their work. The coins themselves were buried very soon after this later date of 50BC; this date was known because the coins themselves were in very good condition without much evidence of wear (Sommer, 2007). The precise culture represented by these coins is not made clear by the research, although the timing suggests that it was around the time when France was a Roman province known as Gallia Lugdunensis and Britain itself was inhabited by various tribes such as the Gaels, Brythons and Picts. Due to the geographical style of the coin, it can be safely assumed that the coins were brought back to Brtain from Gallia Lugdunensis just before they were stashed in the cow humerus and buried. The Team & The Site Sedgeford is a very interesting archaeological site for many reasons. Firstly, the digging is done entirely by volunteers who have a say in all the workings of the site, something the volunteers themselves refer to as 'democratic archaeology'. The archarologists here come from all over the world, with a particularly large contingent coming from United Kingdom Universities that provide a steady stream of undergraduates and graduates to the area. Amateurs and people with a passing interest in the subject can also partake in the digging after undergoing a short course. The hoard in question was in fact discovered by an undergraduate from Nottingham University, who had previously had little digging experience (Faulkner, 2009). The site itself is considered to still be an active site because there are still areas of the village that are yet to be excavated. As recently as last year, interesting Bronze Age burials were being found underneath Anglo-Saxon settlements, suggesting that the site still has much to offer to the archaeological world (Faulkner, 2009). Conclusions Several interesting conclusions have been made about the hoard and the site from this find. Firstly, it shows that Sedgeford was being inhabited even at this early stage, whereas previously it had been assumed that the site was predominantly Anglo-Saxon (Sommer, 2007). Finds of similar coins have been found in neighbouring villages such as Fring, suggesting that the entire area was populated with people who would have travelled to and from Gallia Lugdunensis as part of their work as soldiers or missionaries. Found in the same context as the hoard were four shards of Iron Age pottery, suggesting that this oval pit itself had been used for more than just storing coinage. It has been suggested that the whole pit was dedicated to storing objects of interest to the people that lived in the area, although it is yet to be ascertained why these settlers would decide to do such a thing (Sommer, 2007). There are several areas which could be explored to find more data on this find. Firstly, DNA analysis of the humerus could lead to more bones being found from the same cow, perhaps leading to more coinage or at least an illustration as to whether the find was part of a wider cultural ritual. The cow could also be aged to see if the humerus itself was much older than the coinage, illustrating whether the cow was killed for this purpose, was left over from previous activities, or merely a by-product of carnivorous eating habits. Carbon-dating could help to give a more precise date to the coin. References Faulkner, N. 2009. “The Sedgeford Crisis.” Public Archaeology 8 (1): 51–61. Moshenska, G. 2005. “The Sedgeford Village Survey: digging for local history in the back garden.” LOCAL HISTORIAN-LONDON- 35 (3): 159. Sommer, U. 2007. “Review of: The Sedgeford Hoard, by M. Dennis and N. Faulkner for Public Archaeology.” Public Archaeology 5 (4): 259–261.