There has been much discussion by archaeologists in recent years of the reasons for which ancient hoards may have been deposited and not recovered. There is an apparently clear Roman definition of treasure in the Digest: Thesaurus est vetus quaedam depositio pecuniae, cuius non extat memoria ut iam dominum non habeat. There have been increasing difficulties, however, in interpreting this statement and the versions of it which have been incorporated into modern law. In England and Wales, for example, the uncertainties have even led to a replacement of the medieval law of Treasure Trove with a Treasure Act more suited to present-day conditions. In spite of the fact that most discoveries of treasure were made by chance, without adequate records, much of the argument revolves round the details of the deposits, from which attempts are made to infer the motives of those who made them. This speculation cannot be supported by direct evidence, and so, because our own particular interest is in hoards of Roman silver plate, we felt that it might be helpful first to review briefly some of the ancient documentary evidence for hoards of silver plate which the owner intended to recover, from literature and papyri, and then to publish two such hoards with detailed documentation, one from England in the seventeenth century and one from Germany in the twentieth century, which reveal some of the motives, hopes, actions and accidents which actually occur in such circumstances.