Top 20 spot for Museum collection

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News release: 03 May 2017

An ancient burial site discovered in the St Albans District has been named as one of the 20 most important archaeological finds of the last two decades.

Medusa head on burial jug from Turners Hall Farm

The objects unearthed in 2002 at Turners Hall Farm, Marshalls Heath, Wheathampstead, date back to the second century AD when Britain was under Roman rule.

Now the discovery has made it onto a list of the UK’s most significant finds reported under the Treasure Act over the last 20 years.

Six leading experts in Celtic, Roman, Medieval and early modern archaeology compiled the list which was published by the Telegraph newspaper group.

Readers are being asked to vote online for their favourite one with the contest being highlighted on social media under the hashtag #Treasure20.

Among the Turners Hall discoveries were two graves, almost certainly those of the wealthy owners of a roman Villa and bath house that stood nearby.

Around 150 objects, many of the highest quality, were also unearthed following the site’s discovery by two metal detectorists.

Many of the objects are on display at the Verulamium Museum, run by St Albans City and District Council.

The detectorists complied with the Treasure Act which obliges finders of precious metal objects that are at least 300-years-old to declare them to the Coroner. The finds were declared Treasure Trove.

Archaeologists who then excavated the Turners Hall Farm site first found evidence of the graves and later came across the villa and bath house.

They extracted household objects which showed the villa’s owners had collected examples of the best goods available in the Roman world.

These included bronze jugs from Campania, Italy, glassware from the Rhineland, Germany, Samian jugs from France and silver from Spain.

Many recognisably British objects were also found, suggesting that the owners were the Romanised descendants of local landowners, members of the Iron Age’s elite.

The larger grave included a complete hunting kit with arrows and a set of knives for butchering and skinning prey.

Both bodies were cremated, making identification difficult, but it appears that they may have both been women. 

The objects were purchased by the Verulamium Museum with help from several funding bodies.

Richard Shwe, the Council’s Head of Commercial and Development, said: “The appearance of the Turners Hall Farm site on this list is recognition of its national importance. 

“Discoveries like this enable archaeologists and historians to gain a greater insight into the lives of our ancestors and piece together the story of Britain’s development.

“Many of the objects that were unearthed are on display at the Museum with people being able to see them close up. I hope the interest that the Telegraph competition creates will encourage more people to visit the Museum to see all this for themselves.”

Voting for the Telegraph list closes on 15 May and is being held on online at: www.telegraph.co.uk/wellbeing/mood-and-mind/treasure-20-vote-favourite/

Picture: Medusa head on a burial jug found at the Turners Hall Farm site.
  
Contact for the media: 
John McJannet, Principal Communications Officer, St Albans City & District Council, Tel: 01727 296130, E-mail: john.mcjannet@stalbans.gov.uk