Joy as Kelshall’s Roman treasures go on show at North Herts Museum

PUBLISHED: 14:57 12 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:05 12 March 2018

Nine-year-old Art Milligan and Clemmie Milligan 11, enjoy looking at the treasures. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Nine-year-old Art Milligan and Clemmie Milligan 11, enjoy looking at the treasures. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Archant

Roman treasures found between Baldock and Royston went on show for the first time at the weekend – and visitors were queueing out the door.

The Kelshall treasures. Picture: Karyn Haddon The Kelshall treasures. Picture: Karyn Haddon

The North Hertfordshire Museum in Hitchin’s Brand Street was the venue as the artefacts, one of the most significant UK finds in recent years, were finally shown to the public.

There were also activities for children during the day, themed on BBC series Civilisations – with kids dressing up as Romans, watching a film about Egyptians and building the Seven Wonders of the World.

Ros Allwood, who runs the museum, told the Comet there were people queueing outside Hitchin Town Hall before they even opened on Saturday.

“The interest was really fantastic,” she said.

“We had 567 people clicked in – and I think that’s an underestimate, because the person clicking was also talking to people and selling books.

“Most of the day, people were having to queue.”

Hitchin's Phil Kirk, who made the initial Kelshall treasure find, with his grandchildren Clemmie Milligan, 11, and Art Milligan, nine.   Picture: Karyn Haddon Hitchin's Phil Kirk, who made the initial Kelshall treasure find, with his grandchildren Clemmie Milligan, 11, and Art Milligan, nine. Picture: Karyn Haddon

The treasures were discovered near Kelshall in 2014 by amateur metal detectorist Phil Kirk, from Hitchin, with North Herts District Council archaeology officer Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews then leading a dig.

The find, dating back to about AD 200, includes colourful mosaic glass dishes thought to have been made in Alexandria, as well as precious metals including a bronze coin dating from around AD 174. There are also copper alloy vessels, jugs and more.

Keith has described it as a “once-in-a-lifetime” discovery. Ros said that to find one of these millefiori glass dishes was rare enough, but two together was unprecedented in this country.

Janet and Robert Sunderland from Little Wymondley enjoy looking at the Kelshall treasures.  Picture: Karyn Haddon Janet and Robert Sunderland from Little Wymondley enjoy looking at the Kelshall treasures. Picture: Karyn Haddon

The artefacts were put in the care of the British Museum due to their historical significance, but returned to North Herts in January after the Hitchin-based museum raised £60,000 in grants.

This weekend was the only time the public will get to see the items as they were found, before they go off for conservation and restoration work. They will then return to Hitchin for display in permanent display cabinets.

Ros said visitors were grateful to be able to see the artefacts just as they were discovered.

Royston sculptor Paul Bainbridge enjoys the treasures. Picture: Karyn Haddon Royston sculptor Paul Bainbridge enjoys the treasures. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Starting this weekend, the museum will host First World War-themed art from Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum until June 16. To find out more, have a look at northhertsmuseum.org.

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