The collection of 1800-year-old bronze objects and was found by metal detectorists James Spark and Mark Didlick in a field near Ampleforth in Ryedale, North Yorkshire, in May 2020. It was sold at auction in Derbyshire on May 20, 2021 by Hansons for a hammer price of £185,000 (plus 30% buyer’s premium inc. VAT).
The buyer was London antiquities dealership David Aaron which is currently displaying the collection at Frieze Masters fair this week.
An agreement has been reached to sell the collection to the museum with the help of funding from US donor Richard Beleson alongside support from the Art Fund and a number of individual donors.
David Aaron did not disclose the price but the gallery chose to sell to the museum for a discounted price to ensure they would remain on public view.
The gallery added: “We are very proud to have handled The Ryedale Roman Bronzes and are delighted that they will be on permanently public display.”
Beleson, from San Francisco, who has supported the museum previously in the purchase of the Wold Newton Hoard, said: “I first read about the upcoming Hanson’s auction of the Ryedale Roman Hoard on Facebook, and the minute I saw the bronze bust of Marcus Aurelius, I knew there was only one place in the world it belonged – the Yorkshire Museum. I am really looking forward to visiting York and seeing it on display.”
Beleson has been interested in Roman Britain since his childhood and has visited York a number of times including in 2019 when he attended the Eboracum Roman Festival, run by Graham Harris. Beleson added: “We would like to make our donation in honour of Graham Harris and the participants of the Eboracum Roman Festival.”
Reyahn King, chief executive of York Museums Trust, said: “On behalf of York Museums Trust I am incredibly grateful to Richard Beleson, Art Fund, the other individual donors and David Aaron who have made the purchase of this incredible hoard possible.”
The hoard, known as the Ryedale Roman Bronzes, will be on display at Frieze Masters until October 17 and will then become part of the Yorkshire Museum’s existing Roman collection.
The collection, which includes a bust of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, is believed to have been buried as part of a religious ceremony. It also includes a statuette of the God of War, Mars, a handle of a knife shaped as part of a horse and a plumb bob used for engineering projects.