A hoard of late Iron Age and early Roman vessels, which was discovered in a pasture in Llantrisant Fawr Community, Monmouthshire, was recently declared treasure. It is hoped that the analysis of these unique vessels might be able to tell us more about this period of political and cultural upheaval.
Jon Matthews, a metal-detectorist, uncovered the hoard in March 2019 and quickly contacted the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales (PAS Cymru) as soon as he realised the significance of his discovery. A team from PAS Cymru and Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales then carried out a small excavation of the find site, where it became apparent that some of the vessels were quite delicate, with some wood still surviving from some of them. So, to maintain preservation as best as possible, the whole hoard was block-lifted and brought back to the museum for analysis.
Once in the lab, the block was carefully excavated and cleaned by Louise Mumford, the Senior Conservator, Archaeology, for Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales, revealing two complete and six fragmentary vessels. These included a wooden bucket with copper-alloy fittings and two stave-built wooden tankards, as well as a copper-alloy cauldron, a strainer, two saucepans, and a bowl with an exceptionally well-crafted ox-head handle (pictured above). While most of the items appear to date to the late Iron Age, the two saucepans are Roman in style. As all the vessels seem to have been buried at the same time, this could suggest that it dates to the second half of the 1st century AD, soon after the Roman conquest. Analysis of the soil as well as the contents of the vessels is ongoing, but it is thought that they might represent part of a drinking set.
Also recently declared as treasure in Wales was a hoard of Roman coins, found between 2014 and 2022 by metal-detectorists Colin Price and Rhys Cadwallader in Caerwent Community, Monmouthshire. All of the copper-alloy coins date to the late 3rd-4th centuries AD and, intriguingly, they were found in the same field as Wales’ first-discovered hoard of Roman siliquae (a very late Roman silver coin type). Thus, while the Llantrisant Fawr vessel hoard will hopefully inform us about the late Iron Age to early Roman transition in Wales, these coin hoards have the potential to tell us more about the end of Roman occupation in the region.