Treasure hunter finds hoard of 52,000 Roman coins

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A metal-detector enthusiast has found one of the biggest ever hoards of Roman coins. It is the biggest hoard ever found in a single vessel in Britain, numbering 52,500 Roman coins of varying denominations.

Dave Crisp was in a field near Frome, Somerset, when he found what turned out to be an earthenware pot full of coins from the third century AD. The coins, held in a metal jar weighing 160kg, is estimated to have been worth around four years' pay for a Roman legionary soldier.

The find was initially made at the end of May. Since then the site has been excavated and the British Museum has begun a conservation process. A total number for the coins was only reached last week.

Experts involved in the excavation have nothing but praise for Mr Crisp. “The discovery at Frome stands out as a story, mainly because Dave Crisp reported it immediately to his local coroner,” says Somerset Finds Liaison Officer Anna Booth.

“This meant we got to excavate the site in its original, undisturbed state. Mr Crisp took part in this process with us, even going to the extent of camping there one night with his grandson, to make sure that the site was safe over night.”

The 'coarse, average type of vessel' in which the coins were kept is made from black burnished ceramic ware, and measures around 50cm in diameter. Though the pot was intact in the ground, it had been cracked, making it easier to get the coins out.

“The pot was enormous, there is no way that anyone could have carried it, which we think makes it unlikely that the money was hidden by someone who intended to return to it,” adds Booth. “The pot has been carefully placed in the ground using packing material such as reeds and grass, so we think it could be a ritual offering.”

An inquest on 22 July will rule whether the find is classed as treasure or not. Under the 1996 Treasure Act (for England, Wales and Northern Ireland), objects that might be considered treasure, or are more than 300 years old, must be reported to the local coroner within 14 days of discovery.

In the case of coins, if there are more than 10 from the same hoard with a silver or gold content of at least 10 per cent, then it is classed as 'treasure' and must be offered for sale to a museum (the British Museum has first refusal) at a value determined by the Treasury Valuation Committee.

If the hoard is declared to be treasure, and it seems certain this will, then Somerset County Museum Service has declared its interest in buying it and a reward would be shared between the finder, Dave Crisp, and the owner of the field.

Last year's Staffordshire Hoard of Saxon jewellery earned finder Terry Herbert a cool £1.3m. Yet Booth insists that it is too early to tell how much Mr Crisp stands to make from his discovery. “I can't comment on the value of the coins, partly because I don't know and also because there are just too many variables. It will depend on how many rare coins there are and the condition they're in.”

The hoard will eventually go on display at Taunton Museum, which is undergoing refurbishment and will be reopened in spring 2011, when conservation work is complete.

Whatever the value of the haul, it is of great historical interest, including coins minted by 21 emperors and three emperors' wives. Famous rulers include Gallenius, Diocletian and Maximian, but perhaps more interesting is that 766 coins feature the notorious Carausius, a brutal usurper who ruled Britain and parts of northern Gaul independent of the empire from 286-293 AD. Coins of Carausius are rarely found in hoards.

Carausius also struck his own coins, and reinstated the silver denarius. There are up to ten of these in the hoard. The second half of the third century was a troubled time for Britain, with Carausius's play for power causing political instability. It was also the tail-end of the third century crisis, during which the empire was hit by disease, unrest and economic depression. It is possible this huge haul was actually deflated in value at the time. It could explain why such a large number of them were buried together.

Hoard of 10,000 Roman coins found in Shropshire

Top 10 metal detector discoveries

Roman mystery woman discovered near Hereford: not a female gladiator

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine