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Looted Irish treasures recovered in England

Almost 900 artefacts illegally looted in the Republic by a treasure hunter with a metal detector have been recovered.

They include three 'gun money' coins, the emergency war money coined by James II from 1689-91 to pay his forces to fight William of Orange.

The items, including a Bronze Age axe and spearhead and hundreds of medieval coins, will go on display today, then be stored for research.

They were recovered after a tip-off from the British Museum to the National Museum of Ireland last year when an important hoard of medieval silver coins was exported illegally to the UK. Seamus Lynam, of the National Museum, said it underlines the threat posed to Ireland's archaeological heritage by metal detectorists.

The collection was amassed by a British man living in Co Tipperary who worked with an associate in the Norfolk area to pass the goods on. The treasure hunter died last year.

Treasure hunters in the Republic of Ireland need a licence to search or dig and are obliged by law to report any finds or face up to five years in jail and a fine of £53,600.

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