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Colchester: Discovery of ‘hugely significant’ Roman coin hoard

PUBLISHED: 06:00 20 May 2011

Emma Surgeon an Archaeologist with the Colchester Archaeological Trust checks the vessel that held the Roman coin hoard.

Emma Surgeon an Archaeologist with the Colchester Archaeological Trust checks the vessel that held the Roman coin hoard.

Archant

A HOARD of more than 1,200 Roman coins has been discovered during an archaeological dig in Colchester.

"It goes without saying that this treasure will be gifted to the local community"

Simon Brown, Taylor Wimpey

The find has been described as a “hugely significant national discovery which brings even more life and colour to Colchester’s rich and fascinating history”.

The coins, which date back nearly two millennia, were discovered inside a small grey-ware pot which had been buried in the ground at a development site off Mersea Road.

The hoard, which could be worth tens of thousands of pounds, was discovered during the course of routine archaeological survey work by landowner Taylor Wimpey, at the former Hyderabad and Meeanee barracks site.

Simon Brown, managing director of the company, said: “It goes without saying that this treasure will be gifted to the local community.

“As soon as all the relevant formalities have been completed, Taylor Wimpey will be delighted to present the coins to Colchester Museum for the whole town to appreciate.”

The discovery was made in March, but has been kept secret until today so the coins could be examined and sent to the British Museum.

Philip Crummy, director of the Colchester Archaeological Trust, said the hoard is made up of issues of nine Roman emperors ranging from Gallus (AD 251-3) to Victorinus (AD 269-271), with the latest coins in the hoard suggesting it may have been deposited in the early part of AD 271.

It is thought the hoard was buried for safe keeping but the owner either was unable to find it again or died sometime afterwards without revealing its location.

“The burial of coins seems to have been more common in periods of unrest or uncertainty,” he said.

“The 270s was a difficult time in eastern England because of civil war in the Roman Empire and serious raiding along the coast by foreign peoples. This explains why the Hyderabad hoard is not the first hoard of this period to have been discovered in the Colchester area.”

The archaeological works at the former Hyderabad and Meeanae barracks form part of the major Colchester Garrison redevelopment which has included the release of about 60 hectares of the former garrison for residential redevelopment by Taylor Wimpey.

The associated archaeological project has already culminated in the nationally important discoveries of Britain’s only Roman circus and burial sites.

Archaeological project manager Robert Masefield, of RPS Planning & Development, said: “The Garrison project is undoubtedly one of the most important archaeological landscape scale studies to have been conducted in England in recent years.

“Taylor Wimpey has fully engaged with the archaeological process ensuring that the history of southern Colchester and its wider place in the history of Britain have been significantly advanced.”

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