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The Water Newton Treasure

Updated on June 13, 2013

When I first moved into the south east of England, I must admit I was very unaware of the local areas history. My wife who was born and raised in Stamford, Lincolnshire kept going on at me about we must visit Stamford its got a rich and vibrant history and you will love it. In truth I have a very deep interest in my countries history, I can get a bit obsessive with it. ( On a visit to Norwich I read every plaque relating to its Viking settlement, and yes no surprise it annoyed my wife! ). I am currently in Peterborough and it surprised me to discover that not five minutes away is the site of an important find in Romano-British history. It is known locally as the Water Newton Treasure, the small village is now relatively ordinary in the modern age but in the past it was a much more important part of Roman Britain.

Roman coins
Roman coins

During ploughing in the Cambridgeshire countryside in February 1975, a hoard of 4th century Roman silver was discovered. They were probably buried by an inhabitant of the nearby Roman fortified garrison town of Durobrivae (now the village of Water Newton). The Water Newton find included silver plates,bowls, and an ornate standing two-handled cup. Experts believe this find also represents the earliest Christian themed silver found in the entire Roman Empire. Due to the importance of this find it is now on display at the British Museum. A copy of the find is also on display at the nearby Peterborough Museum.

The Roman settlement which is now Water Newton is located where Ermine Street crossed the River Nene. Ermine Street was the main Roman road up to York. Duribrivae was a town which specialized in pottery production until the industry closed down for unknown reasons (By the Saxon period most of the citizens had moved to the area that would become modern Peterborough ).Much of the surrounding area was used by the Romans for manufacturing and production. Neighbouring settlements such as Castor and Stamford have a heavy Roman archaeological history.

Known locations of Roman treasure in England and Wales,
Known locations of Roman treasure in England and Wales, | Source

The hoard consisted of 27 silver items and one small gold plaque. Due to the ploughing of the field, which discovered the treasure a few items were damaged. The big mystery is why was the treasure buried in the first place. Because of inscriptions found on some of the pieces in the collection it has been suggested that they may have been used in a local church. It may have been a Saxon raiding party was about to attack and the inhabitants buried the treasure to keep it safe. East Anglia was settled quite well by the Romans, the area has good natural resources and good farmland. So it is no surprise that Roman finds are quite frequent.

In the small village of Hoxne, Suffolk about one hours drive away from Water Newton. A collection of over 14,000 gold, silver and bronze coins were found by a local man with a metal detector. The find was valued at over 1.7 million pounds. So if you know that your local area was settled by the ancient Roman Empire, it maybe worth walking the rural area's. You never know, I think there is a lot left undiscovered. Whether or not there are hidden treasures still remaining to be found, is an answer many treasure hunters will enjoy solving in the future.


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    • Asp52 profile image

      Asp52 7 years ago from England

      It is fascinating, the amount of Roman settlements that just turn into little villages is amazing. There are ruins in Wales of what used to be Roman trading centres, once the Romans left they were abandoned and left to nature to claim back.

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 7 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Interesting Hub on the Water Newton Treasure. It's amazing what they are still finding beneath the soil in the UK, and how much we still have to learn about the Roman occupation.