Ryedale Ritual Bronzes: Hoard of Roman treasure found by amateur metal detectorists near Ampleforth sells for £185,000 at auction

An incredible collection of Roman treasures found by two metal detectorists in Ryedale has been sold at auction for £185,000.

The Ryedale Ritual Bronzes
The Ryedale Ritual Bronzes

James Spark and Mark Didlick, who are from the York area, found the treasure in a field near Ampleforth in May 2020 and reported their find to the government's Portable Antiquities Scheme for verification.

Experts who examined the pieces were amazed to discover that they included a 'unique' 2,000-year-old bronze bust of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, an equestrian statuette of the god Mars, a horse-head knife handle and a large bronze pendulum.

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Hansons Auctioneers held a sale in Derbyshire on Thursday and predicted that the items could go for £100,000.

Yet strong competition between bidders meant a London collector had to pay £185,000 for the entire hoard.

Hansons owner Charlie Hanson said: “It was an extraordinary result for an extraordinary lot. It was honour to auction these fascinating historical items - antiquities which had not been seen for 1,800 years. This was a lot like no other. It provided a tantalising insight into Roman life centuries ago.”

Expert Adam Staples added: “I’m thrilled for the finders and landowner who watched the auction. It was a fantastic result.

“This hoard of artefacts was probably buried as a religious offering which marked the closure of a rural shrine or the death of a priest. The artefacts would have formed a suite of ritual implements to be utilised when performing religious ceremonies and for predicting the future.

“The hoard was taken to York Museum and recorded through the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme.”

Mr Spark, Mr Didlick and the unidentified landowner will now split the proceeds between them.