Huge hoard of Roman coins discovered
A HOARD of Roman coins unearthed in a Suffolk field is the largest discovery of its kind ever to be made in Britain.Experts say the rare find of 621 copper alloy coins, made by a metal detector enthusiast in October, could have been buried for safe-keeping during times of political turmoil.
A HOARD of Roman coins unearthed in a Suffolk field is the largest discovery of its kind ever to be made in Britain.
Experts say the rare find of 621 copper alloy coins, made by a metal detector enthusiast in October, could have been buried for safe-keeping during times of political turmoil.
John Newman, from Suffolk County Council's Archaeological Service, said the treasure, which would originally have been adorned with a silver wash, was of the usurper emperors Carausius (287-293 AD) and Allectus (293-296 AD).
“This appears to be the largest hoard of legitimately minted coins of the two usurpers from Britain to date,” he said.
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“The coins are made up of 258 of Carausius, and 347 of Allectus, minted at London and possibly Southhampton or Colchester, which was the first time official mints were set up in Roman Britain.”
During a treasure trove inquest in Bury St Edmunds yesterday, coroner for Greater Suffolk Peter Dean heard how metal detectorist Paul Flack contacted Suffolk County Council after discovering 30 of the coins, which he correctly identified as being of Roman origin.
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“We were able to mobilise a small team of archaeologists - funded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme - who excavated the area and found the remaining coins,” said Mr Newman.
“We ascertained the coins had originally been placed in a pottery jar and then buried on the edge of a Roman period ditch, close to an area of known settlement - probably a moderate farm - but had been scattered by the plough lines running through the field.
“A pile of flints was also discovered which may have been used to mark the spot where the coins were.”
The coins, which are currently being kept at the British Museum where they will be cleaned and conserved ready for valuation by the Treasure Valuation Committee, were probably worth around four or five months wages for a labourer at the time they were buried.
Dr Dean commended Mr Flack for helping to save the “great historical value” of the coins by reporting his find to the council immediately. “This is a find that should be considered treasure under the Treasure Act,” he said.
Local museums have now expressed interest in buying the coins. Peter Merrick, chairman of Friends of Mildenhall Museum, said he would be making enquiries to determine exactly where the coins were discovered.