A HOARD of almost 900 metal-detected objects dug up by a treasure hunter have been handed over to the National Museum of Ireland.
Gardai from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation uncovered the collection of archaeological objects with the aid of police in the UK.
The items were collected by a British national, now deceased, who was operating in the Co Tipperary area with the aid of another man living in the UK.
The collection emerged following a tip-off from the British Museum to the National Museum of Ireland that an important hoard of medieval silver coins from Ireland had been exported illegally to the UK.
Ned Kelly, Keeper of Irish Antiquities with the National Museum, said there has been "an increase in activity" of treasure hunters using metal-detectors at archaeological sites.
"No site is safe from these people," warned Mr Kelly, pointing out they were breaching laws against metal-detector usage.
He said much of the background history of the objects has been destroyed as it is not clear where they were discovered. The museum is now hoping to interact with the dead man's associate in the UK to trace the origin of the objects.
The objects recovered by the Norfolk Constabulary in the UK included a hoard of 28 medieval hammered silver coins covering the reigns of Edward I to III dating from 1272 to 1377. The officers also recovered a flat copper axe dating back to the Early Bronze Age between 2,500 and 2,000BC.
A further 29 medieval silver coins were recovered by Gardai, along with a bronze looped-socketed spearhead in the collection dating back to the Bronze Age.