Great Dish goes on display in Suffok

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THE centrepiece of the Mildenhall Treasure has returned to Suffolk for the first time since 1946.

The Great Dish went on display at Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich, yesterday, and visitors will be able to see it free of charge until October 23.

The dish was discovered in 1942 by Mildenhall farmer Gordon Butcher, as he ploughed a field in West Row.

His boss, Sydney Ford, kept the treasure in his home until 1946 when an inquest declared it a treasure trove and it was put on display at the British Museum.

Stephanie Palmer, chairman of trustees at Mildenhall Museum, said she was pleased that the Great Dish was touring around the country and returning the county where it was discovered.

The dish, which is pure silver and dates back to the 4th century, is more than 60cm in diameter and weighs more than 8kg.

It is decorated with images related to the worship and mythology of the Roman god Bacchus. In the centre is the head of the sea god Oceanus, or Neptune, who is surrounded by figures from mythology including Hercules and Bacchus himself.

When the dish was last toured around the country in 2005 there were calls for it to go on display at Mildenhall Museum and Mrs Palmer said the museum remained interested in securing the loan of items from the Midlenhall Treasure.

She said: “If it came up we would discuss it, but at the moment our main thing is to get the development done then we will start thinking about securing loans - it’s only right and fair for it to come home.”

The British Museum has said it is committed to loaning its collection as widely as possible and that an application from the museum would be considered but all loans must be subject to certain conditions, such as the object’s condition and whether the environment in which it is to be housed in while on loan is suitable.