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Hundreds of stolen artefacts belonging to Canterbury Archaeolgical Trust recovered

By Gerry Warren

A tip-off has resulted in the recovery of hundreds of priceless artefacts stolen in a raid on the stores of Canterbury Archaeological Trust.

They were found in bags in a derelict house in Military Road and are now back in the possession of the trust whose members say they are "overjoyed".

The property was taken in January after thieves broke into the trust's stores in Kingsmead.

The recovered haul of archaeogical artefacts
The recovered haul of archaeogical artefacts

The group was devastated by the loss, which included Anglo-Saxon glass beads, axes, coins, metal items, pins and carved bone items which had been found during digs over the last 40 years.

But a tip-off to the trust led police and archaeologists to the empty property where many of the items were found in bags.

Their despair has now turned to joy, although some of the missing items, such as its educational outreach artefacts including replica metal axes and coins were not among the haul.

A police spokesman said: "Responding to information received, and working with the Rural Task Force, officers from the Canterbury Community Policing Team attended a property in Military Road, Canterbury , yesterday and recovered the items, which includes most of the 2,000 archaeological finds stolen from the Kingsmead store in January.

At this stage no arrests have been made and officers continue to make enquiries.

Sergeant Darren Walshaw from the Rural Task Force said: “We are delighted to be able to reunite the trust with the majority of their artefacts. These are irreplaceable pieces of heritage but we will continue to work to find those responsible for the theft of the items and to also find those items still missing.”

Canterbury Archaeological Trust members log the recovered artefacts
Canterbury Archaeological Trust members log the recovered artefacts

Trust director Paul Bennett said: "We are hugely relieved to have got back such vital material which is of huge importance to the history of the city.

"We were overwhelmed by the support we got from around the world after we were raided. To get back such a significant proportion is fantastic and we would like to thank the police for their quick response."

The raid on the store left property scattered about and a huge job for staff and volunteers to catalogue what was missing.

"The thieves probably didn't know what to do with it because many of the items don't have great monetory value. Some of the missing items may probably end up being sold at fairs.

"But we still hold out hope of getting some more of it back."

Later this year, the trust is planning to relocate from Kingsmead to new premises in Wincheap, with the help of the city council, where it hopes to make more of its artefacts available in a resource centre.

Anyone with information regarding the theft should call police on 01843 222289, quoting reference ZY/4200/18.

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