Some 720 silver coins, found in the Leicestershire village of Whitwell, are expected to fetch about pounds 10,000. To a Roman legionary, they were probably equivalent to 18 months' salary.
They coins were found in 1991 by Janet Holmes, 55, and Victor and Thelma Stubbs, both 62. Mrs Holmes recalled the occasion: 'I picked one up and thought 'very nice', and then went a bit further. The detector suddenly went mad . . . pipping everywhere . . . The plough had brought them up.' Although the coins were either on or near the surface, they were scattered and it took more than a month to locate them all.
The coins date from the time of Constantantius II (AD 337-361) to the joint reign of emperors Arcadius and Honorius (circa AD 350-400). Tom Eden, Sotheby's ancient coin specialist, believes that the hoard was buried before 410AD, 'when the Romano- British were in constant struggle with their barbarian invaders'.
Like all gold and silver coins which appear to have been buried with a view to being retrieved later, the Whitwell coins were initially declared treasure trove - the property of the Crown. Eventually, only 64 coins were retained by the British Museum and Leicester Museum: the finders will be paid the full market price.Reuse content