Last Wednesday nearly one hundred Volunteers and special guests crowded in to the Lecture Hall for a special Volunteer event. Richard Henry, Wiltshire Finds Liaison Officer, presented one of our Collections in Focus Lectures – Hoards from Wiltshire, prior to our forthcoming exhibition: Hoards: A Hidden History of Ancient Britain (13 October). It included a rare opportunity to be up close (but not to touch!) some pieces from the museum’s Wylye Hoard.
Richard introduced things by talking about hoards in general, touching on his work over a number of years in Wiltshire. The Wylye Hoard was discovered by two metal detectorists, near the village of that name, in 2012. It consisted of 41 copper alloy objects, mostly jewellery, from the Bronze Age, and included the two magnificent torcs which Richard had brought with him. He also had on display an enormous pin, surprisingly delicate for its size, which, it is assumed, was indeed used as as a pin for clothing but surely in some ceremonial way, being so large and presumably rather unwieldy.
As members of the audience crowded around at the end of the talk there was much discussion of what the pin might otherwise be used for, and whether the torcs could ever actually be worn, being so heavy. Richard pointed out that they had broken just where you would expect them to break if they had been worn…
Salisbury Museum purchased the hoard in 2014.
It was a special occasion as Richard is leaving the Portable Antiquities team, and The Salisbury Museum, to take up a new post in charge of collections at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Quite a change for him, and a sad one for all who have worked with him here at Salisbury. It was good to see so many of ‘his’ Volunteers at this talk, and also for the museum to welcome for the afternoon, Bruce Eagles, Visiting Research Fellow at Bournemouth University and Richard’s long-time mentor, and to see members of Richard’s family there too.