News

Acquiring History: Treasure Arrives at Dorset Museum & Art Gallery

May 31, 2024

Treasure items arrive at Dorset Museum & Art Gallery after the funding target was reached for purchasing the Stalbridge Middle Bronze Age Hoard and Charlton Marshall Gold Stater Hoard.

The Stalbridge Hoard and Charlton Marshall Hoard have arrived at Dorset Museum & Art Gallery after the funding target of £32,300 was reached to acquire them for Dorset.

John Belgrove and the Stalbridge Hoard
John Belgrove with the hoard. Image Credit: MaxWillcock/BNPS

The Stalbridge Hoard dates from the Middle Bronze Age and is made up of a palstave axe head, an uncommon bangle with incised decoration, and a rapier sword. The rapier sword is particularly interesting as it has a hilt shaped to mimic a wooden handle and appears to have been deliberately broken into three pieces.

The Charlton Marshall Hoard dates from the Late Iron Age and consists of 40 gold staters which are incredibly unusual as they were made by a Gaulish tribe called the Baiocasses and were imported from France.

Both hoards are considered nationally important. The items have considerable potential for future research into their origins, manufacture and use which will enable the Museum to deepen its understanding of life in ancient Dorset. If they had not been acquired by the Museum, they would have likely left the UK with the groups potentially broken up and all possibility of research lost. For this reason, we are delighted that with the help of grants from the ACE/V&A Purchase Fund and the Headley Trust, as well as generous contributions from Stalbridge Town Council and the local community, Dorset Museum & Art Gallery was able to raise the amount needed to keep these items in the county.

Elizabeth Selby, Director of Collections and Public Engagement says: “Dorset is a rich area for archaeology and these items will complement the Museum’s existing Bronze Age and Iron Age collections. The Museum plans to showcase them in a special exhibition on Treasure in the next few years, and they will eventually be integrated into the permanent galleries.”

Speaking to John Belgrove, finder of the Stalbridge Hoard, he says: “It’s incredible to think these beautiful objects of such skilled workmanship had lain buried in the Dorset mud for over 3000 years. Now I’m really looking forward to seeing these unique treasures publicly displayed in the Museum for all visitors to enjoy … I’m confident the highly professional team of experts there will do an amazing job and I am still pinching myself that I’m a part of the Stalbridge Hoard story.”

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