A hoard of silver coins, the latest about 1700 (British Museum)

In archaeology, a hoard is a collection of valuable objects or artifacts, sometimes purposely buried in the ground. This would usually be with the intention of later recovery by the hoarder; hoarders sometimes died before retrieving the hoard, and these surviving hoards may be uncovered by metal-detectorists, members of the public and archaeologists much later. Forgetfulness and physical displacement from the location of the hoard may contribute to failing to retrieve it.

Hoards provide a useful method of providing dates for artifacts through association as they can usually be assumed to be contemporary and therefore used in creating chronologies. Hoards can also be considered an indicator of the relative degree of unrest in ancient societies. Thus conditions in 5th century and 6th century Britain spurred the burial of hoards of which the most famous are the Hoxne Hoard, Suffolk; the Mildenhall Treasure, the Fishpool Hoard, Nottinghamshire, the Water Newton hoard, Cambridgeshire, and the Cuerdale Hoard, Lancashire, all preserved in the British Museum.

Prudence Harper of the Metropolitan Museum of Art voiced some practical reservations about hoards at the time of the Soviet exhibition of Scythian gold in New York, 1975. Writing of the so-called "Maikop treasure" acquired from three separate sources by three museums early in the twentieth century, the Berliner Museen, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and the Metropolitan Museum, New York, Harper warned

"By the time "hoards" or "treasures" reach museums from the antiquities market, it often happens that miscellaneous objects varying in date and style have become attached to the original group."[1]

Such 'dealer's hoards' can be highly misleading, but better understanding of archaeology amongst collectors, museums and the general public is gradually making them less common, and more easily identified.



Hoards may be of precious metals, coinage, tools or less commonly, pottery or glass vessels. There are various classifications depending on the nature of the hoard.

A founder's hoard contains broken or unfit metal objects, ingots, casting waste, and often complete objects, in a finished state. These were probably buried with the intention to recover at a later time.

A merchant's hoard is a collection of various functional items which, it is conjectured, were buried by a traveling merchant for safety, with the intention of later retrieval.

A personal hoard is a collection of personal objects buried for safety in times of unrest.

A hoard of loot is a buried collection of spoils from raiding and is more in keeping with the popular idea of "buried treasure".

Votive hoards are different from the above in that they are often taken to represent permanent abandonment, in the form of purposeful deposition of items, either all at once or over time for ritual purposes, without intent to recover them. Furthermore, votive hoards need not be "manufactured" goods, but can include organic amulets and animal remains. Votive hoards are often distinguished from more functional deposits by the nature of the goods themselves (from animal bones to diminutive artifacts), the places buried (being often associated with watery places, burial mounds and boundaries), and the treatment of the deposit (careful or haphazard placement and whether ritually destroyed/broken). However, it should be noted that valuables dedicated to the use of a deity (and thus classifiable as 'votive') were not always permanently abandoned. Valuable objects given to a temple or church become the property of that institution, and may be used to its benefit. [2]

Hoards with individual articles

North American



England, Scotland and Wales



See also


  1. ^ From the Lands of the Scythians; special edition of The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin xxxii no. 5, 1975.
  2. ^ C.Johns, 'The classification and interpretation of Romano-British treasures', Britannia 27 (1996), 1-17: see especially pp.9-11

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  • Hoard — (engl. für Depotfund) ist der Name folgender Personen: Leroy Hoard (* 1968), US amerikanischer Footballspieler Charles B. Hoard (1805 1886), US amerikanischer Politiker William D. Hoard (1836 1918), US amerikanischer Politiker Orte: Hoard (Texas) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hoard — Hoard, n. [OE. hord, AS. hord; akin to OS. hord, G. hort, Icel. hodd, Goth. huzd; prob. from the root of E. hide to conceal, and of L. custos guard, E. custody. See {Hide} to conceal.] A store, stock, or quantity of anything accumulated or laid… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Hoard — Hoard, v. i. To lay up a store or hoard, as of money. [1913 Webster] To hoard for those whom he did breed. Spenser. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Hoard — Hoard, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Hoarded}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Hoarding}.] [AS. hordian.] To collect and lay up; to amass and deposit in secret; to store secretly, or for the sake of keeping and accumulating; as, to hoard grain. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • hoard´er — hoard «hrd, hohrd», verb, noun. –v.t. to save and store away: »The squirrel hoarded nuts for the winter. The miser hoarded his money. SYNONYM(S): treasure, amass, accumulate. –v.i. to save and store away money, goods, etc. –n. what is saved and… …   Useful english dictionary

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  • hoard — I noun accumulation, acervus, aggregation, amassment, cache, collection, copia, cumulation, fund, heap, mass, repository, reserves, riches, saving, stack, stock, stockpile, store, supply, treasure II verb accrue, accumulate, acquire, agglomerate …   Law dictionary

  • hoard — hoard, horde A hoard is a large stock or store of money or accumulated objects (in archaeology, for example); a horde is a large collection of people or animals, and is used in the singular or plural, often disparagingly: • A horde of football… …   Modern English usage

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  • Hoard — (engl., spr. hōrd), Schatz (Hort); Hoards, Vorräte, insbes. im englischen Bankwesen die Summen von Edelmetall, die sich an der Bank anhäufen, ohne augenblicklich geschäftliche Verwendung zu finden …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • hoard — vb amass, *accumulate Analogous words: collect, assemble, *gather: pile, *heap, stack, mass Contrasted words: dissipate, disperse, *scatter: *distribute, divide, dispense …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

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