Mildenhall Treasure or West Row Treasure?
A major archaeological find unearthed in a West Row field nearly 70 years ago could be re-named if a campaign is successful.
Villagers are calling for the world-renowned Mildenhall Treasure to be known as the West Row Treasure to reflect the fact it was found buried in a field in the parish.
It was in 1942 that farmer Gordon Butcher’s plough unearthed what has come to be known as the Great Dish. He called in his boss Sydney Ford and together they found a further 34 pieces of Roman silverware, later found to date from the fourth century. An inquest was held in July 1946 at Mildenhall police station which heard that the dish had during the intervening years occupied pride of place propped up on Mr Ford’s sideboard.
The haul was eventually declared treasure trove and became the property of the Crown. The two men received a reward of £2,000 around £90,000 at today’s prices with their find then being valued at around £50,000, around £2.4m today. It is currently displayed in the British Museum with a replica in the Mildenhall Museum.
Campaigner John Smith, said: “We don’t want the Mildenhall Treasure back but we think it has got the wrong name. It is part of our West Row heritage and it was found here. It is our treasure and it is from West Row. Its name should reflect that. This is our village’s identity. It is the Sutton Hoo of West Row.”
An online petition – www.change.org/p/west-row-parish-the-west-row-treasure – calling for the name change has been launched, however so far it has only gained 43 signatures, while MP Matt Hancock has been asked to lobby on the village’s behalf.
“Everybody I have spoken to about the change says the treasure is part of our history, they are very enthusiastic. I think people always thought something like this would be impossible, but getting our own parish makes you realise you can achieve impossible things,” said John.
Ruth Bowman, chairman of Mildenhall Town Council, said: “West Row’s call to rename the Mildenhall Treasure is certainly an ambitious goal. No one locally would dispute where it was discovered, but given the original designation more than 70 years ago, it seems unlikely history will be rewritten because of a boundary change now, but it is for West Row to make the case if they feel they have local support for taking action on this.”