Looted artefacts recovered in UK to go on display

Treasure trove of 900 items apparently collected in Co Tipperary

A hoard of late Bronze Age gold ornaments that was found at Mooghaun North, Co Clare, in 1854. The newly recovered treasure trove found in the UK includes medieval silver coins, military items and a Bronze Age axe and Bronze Age spear-head, all believed to have been illegally removed from Ireland between 2009 and 2012. Photograph: National Museum of Ireland

A hoard of late Bronze Age gold ornaments that was found at Mooghaun North, Co Clare, in 1854. The newly recovered treasure trove found in the UK includes medieval silver coins, military items and a Bronze Age axe and Bronze Age spear-head, all believed to have been illegally removed from Ireland between 2009 and 2012. Photograph: National Museum of Ireland

Mon, May 20, 2013, 17:50

Treasure hunters using metal detectors are believed to have been behind the removal of nearly 900 artefacts, including a bronze age axe and medieval coins, from Ireland that have now been recovered in the UK.

“We know for a fact that metal detectors were used,” said Dr Ned Kelly, keeper of antiquities with the National Museum of Ireland, where the items will be displayed to the media tomorrow.

In confirming the recovery of the 899 items, the National Museum referred to them as having been looted and said, “The collection was amassed by an individual, now deceased, who operated in the Co Tipperary area with assistance from another person who did not reside within the jurisdiction.”

The treasure trove found in the UK includes medieval silver coins, military items and a Bronze Age axe and Bronze Age spear-head. All are believed to have been illegally removed from Ireland between 2009 and 2012.

“The most striking part is probably the coin hoard. It includes 28 medieval coins that were all found together as well as 30 silver coins that are also medieval. There are coins dating from the reign of King John to Elizabeth I and from Georgian and Victorian times all of which suggests a range of finds were made,” Dr Kelly added.

The recovery of the items, which are believed to have been taken from a number of sites in Tipperary, was the culmination of an investigation that began last year after the British Museum was alerted to messages on the internet where metal detecting in Ireland was being discussed.