Treasure hunter finds hoard of 52,000 Roman coins
Friday 09 July 2010
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.
Life & Style blogs
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
A nap a day could save your life
Windows 10 automatically sends parents detailed dossier of their children's internet history and computer use
The antidote to Tinder? Majority of dating app users want relationship, rather than hook-ups, study finds
The truth behind who really buys sex dolls, from the man who makes the most realistic ones you can buy
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
- 1 Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
- 2 Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
- 3 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
- 4 News agency criticised for describing Amal Clooney as 'actor's wife' in coverage of human rights trial
- 5 David De Gea to Real Madrid: Real finally get their man with £29m bid for Manchester United goalkeeper
£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...
£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...
£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...