THE Yorkshire Museum re-opens today with an exhibition featuring a hoard of Roman artefacts found by metal detectorists in a field near Ampleforth.

The Ryedale Hoard: A Roman Mystery includes an 'exceptional and rare' bust, made to adorn the top of a sceptre,which is thought to show Marcus Aurelius, who was Roman Emperor from AD 161 – 180.

There is also an intricate figurine showing a horse and rider, thought to be made in Britain, as a representation of the god Mars.

The other artefacts are a horse-shaped handle for a key, which may have been deliberately broken before burial, for magical purposes and a plumb bob, which is particularly large and finely created, and made to be hung as a weight to establish a “plumb” vertical line.

A museum spokesperson said the story started on a sunny Sunday afternoon in May 2020, when two friends, James Spark and Mark Didlick, keen metal detectorists, were in a quiet field near Ampleforth.

"Digging down into the soil, four spectacular artefacts emerged," they said. "They had been buried together as a hoard some 1,800 years ago.

"In our new exhibition, visitors can see these remarkable objects and explore how The Ryedale Hoard poses an intriguing archaeological mystery; who buried them?"

Lucy Creighton, Curator of Archaeology at York Museums Trust, said the Ryedale hoard was a unique discovery containing some of Yorkshire’s most significant Roman objects.

"We are so excited to share this spectacular find with the public for the very first time in Yorkshire, where it was found," she said.

"In our new exhibition visitors will be able to get up close to the hoard and explore its story alongside Roman treasures from the museum's wider collection. We’re delighted to welcome people back to the Yorkshire Museum with something so special."

The spokesperson said the trust purchased the hoard from David Aaron, who originally acquired it at auction, and the purchase was made possible largely thanks to the generosity of American donor Richard Beleson, with additional funding through Art Fund, a number of individual donors and with the help of David Aaron Ltd.

Mr Beleson, from San Francisco,who supported the Museum previously in the purchase of the Wold Newton Hoard, said; “I first read about the 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.”

The museum will be opening every day for visitors during the Easter Holidays from 11am to 5pm. From 25th April, during term time, the museum will open Tuesday to Sunday.

Adult entry is £8, when purchased online. Concessions are available. Pre booking is advised.