Our Top Ten Treasures

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Our Top Ten Treasures
Sutton hoo helmet room 1 no flashbrightness ajusted.JPG
Genre Documentary
Directed by Patricia Wheatley
Presented by Adam Hart-Davis
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s) Patricia Wheatley
Distributor BBC
Original network BBC Two
Original release 1 January 2003
External links
Website www.bbc.co.uk/history/archaeology/excavations_techniques/launch_tl_ages_treasure.shtml

Our Top Ten Treasures was a 2003 special episode of the BBC Television series Meet the Ancestors which profiled the ten most important treasures unearthed in Britain, as voted for by a panel of experts from the British Museum.


The programme was commissioned for broadcast on New Year’s Day 2003 to tie in with an exhibition at the British Museum as part of new director Neil MacGregor’s attempts to popularise the museum.[1]

Following the broadcast viewers were invited to vote for their favourites in a poll that was won by the Vindolanda Tablets, with the Sutton Hoo ship burial in second place.[2][3]


Richard Morrison writing in The Times criticised the British Museum for co-operating in an, "unashamedly populist television archaeology venture,"[1] and another article in the same title stated, "You may not like the idea of a league table of treasures that pits one priceless object against another, but television has its own logic."[4]


Every year thousands of precious things are dug up in Britain and many of them find their way here to the British Museum in London, together they represent an amazing amount of history. We’ve asked the museum to look out their top exhibits, both single objects and whole hoards, and we’re going to go behind the scenes down into the treasure room to have a look at the top ten treasures of Britain.

— Adam Hart-Davis's introduction

Hart-Davis presents the top ten treasures as voted by the expert panel in reverse order.

Image Number Object Date Finder When found Where found
Ringlemere Cup detail.jpg 10 The Bronze Age Ringlemere Gold Cup Bronze Age metal-detectorist Cliff Bradshaw 2001 near Dover
Cuerdale hoard viking silver british museum.JPG 9 Cuerdale Silver Hoard 10th century stoneworkers 1840 banks of the River Ribble
Fishpool Hoard jewel.jpg 8 Fishpool Hoard 15th century workmen 1966 Ravenshead, Nottinghamshire
Mildenhall treasure great dish british museum.JPG 7 Mildenhall Roman Dinner Service Roman Gordon Butcher, a ploughman 1942 near Mildenhall, Suffolk
Mold cape.jpg 6 Mold cape Bronze Age stoneworkers 1833 Mold, Flintshire, Wales
UigChessKing rightfront.jpg 5 Lewis chessmen 12th century Malcolm Macleod, small tenant of Pennydonald, Uig 1831 Uig, Isle of Lewis in 1831 but originating in Scandinavia
Snettisham Hoard.jpg 4 Snettisham Hoard Celtic Iron Age 1948 onwards outside King’s Lynn, Norfolk
Hoxne Hoard 1.jpg 3 Hoxne Hoard Roman metal-detectorist Eric Lawes 1992 near Eye, Suffolk
2008-05-17-SuttonHoo.jpg 2 Sutton Hoo ship burial Early Anglo-Saxon, 7th century Basil Brown and Edith Pretty 1940 Woodbridge, Suffolk
Roman writing tablet 02.jpg 1 Vindolanda tablets Roman Robin Birley 1973 near Hadrians Wall


  • Robin Birley (Director, Vindolanda Trust)
  • Roger Bland (Head, Portable Antiquities Scheme)
  • Alan Bowman (Centre of Ancient Writing, Oxford University)
  • Cliff Bradshaw (metal-detectorist)
  • Christine Carpenter (Historian, Cambridge University)
  • Martin Carver (Director, Sutton Hoo Research Trust)
  • Barrie Cook (Curator of Coins & Medals, British Museum)
  • Angela Evans (Curator, Anglo-Saxon Collections, British Museum)
  • Irving Finkel (Asst Keeper, Cuneiform Collections, British Museum)
  • J.D. Hill (Curator, Iron Age Collections, British Museum)
  • Richard Hobbs (Curator, Romano-British Collections, British Museum)
  • Catherine Johns (Former Senior Curator, British Museum)
  • Neil MacGregor (Director, British Museum)
  • Ian McIntyre (Metal Conservator, British Museum)
  • Stuart Needham (Curator, Bronze Age Collections, British Museum)
  • Keith Parfitt (Canterbury Archaeological Trust)
  • Jude Plouviez (Suffolk Archaeological Unit)
  • James Robinson (Curator, Medieval Collections, British Museum)
  • Leslie Webster (Formerly Keeper, Medieval & Modern Europe Dept, British Museum)
  • Gareth Williams (Curator of Coins & Medals, British Museum)
  • Jonathan Williams (then Curator of Iron Age and Roman coins (now Keeper, Medieval & Modern Europe Dept), British Museum)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Morrison, Richard (6 July 2003). "Saint goes marching on". The Times. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  2. ^ Naish, John (28 December 2002). "This is treasure talking". The Times. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  3. ^ Beard, Mary (4 October 2006). "How people lived in Roman Britain". TLS. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  4. ^ "Play choice: Wednesday January 1". The Times. 28 December 2002. Retrieved 16 July 2008.