You wait ages to find one hoard of gold coins...

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

... and then Dave Crisp came across buried Roman treasure twice in one week

For 22 years, Dave Crisp had tramped out every week with his metal detector slung across his shoulder in the hope of finding a hoard of buried treasure that he promised his wife he would one day bring back home to her. After waiting for over two decades for the discovery that had so far eluded him, he stumbled across not just one rare Roman treasure trove of coins but two in the space of a single week.

His first discovery – 61 silver Roman coins scattered in a Somerset field, along with a child's bangle – was exciting enough after such a long wait. But it was easily eclipsed by his second – a pot of coins so extraordinary it is set to provide new insights into the history of Roman rule on the British Isles.

Yesterday, the British Museum announced the fruits of Mr Crisp's extraordinary second find: some 52,000 coins dating to the 3rd century AD – a period barely touched in most history books – uncovered one sunny afternoon in April.

The pot – a type of container normally used for storing food – contained a large number of coins from the reign of Carausius, who ruled Britain from AD286 to AD293 and was the first Roman to strike coins in Britain.

Mr Crisp, 63, a part-time hospital chef from Devizes in Wiltshire, said: "I couldn't believe it when I found the second hoard because when I found the first, I thought 'this is it!' The second discovery knocked the first one into touch. People go for 20 or 30 years never finding a hoard of coins. I found two in a week," he said.

On finding the second buried treasure in a field in Frome, Somerset, he said his detector emitted a "funny signal" which piqued his curiosity. He began to dig down and found 21 coins, followed by a 2ft high pot with 160kg (360lb) of coins stuffed inside.

Thrilled by the glimmer of the buried treasure, he phoned his local council who sent archaeologists to help with its excavation.

Roger Bland, the head of portable antiquities and treasure at the British Museum, said 766 of the coins found were from the reign of the "lost" British emperor Carausius – the largest amount ever to be found from this period – who ruled without the authority of Rome.

Carausius fell out of favour with the Roman emperor Maximian after he used his Channel fleet to amass enormous wealth by capturing pirate ships. Maximian ordered his execution, but Carausius, now regarded as a rebel, refused to submit and carried on ruling Britain and northern Gaul in defiance of Rome.

Before his eventual defeat, he became the first emperor to strike coins in Britain to give his reign legitimacy. Five of the Carausius coins are solid silver, the first such pure coins minted anywhere in the Roman empire in over 150 years. Most of the other coins are a relatively common denomination known as "radiates", made of debased silver and bronze.

Mr Bland said the hoard "has a huge amount to tell about the coinage and history of the period as we study over the next two years".

"This find presents us with an opportunity to put Carausius on the map. Schoolchildren across the country have been studying Roman Britain for decades, but are never taught about Carausius – our lost British emperor," he added.

A coroner is set to declare the find a treasure trove at an inquest on 22 July, paving the way for Somerset County Council to buy it from Mr Crisp and the landowner. Each is entitled to a 50 per cent share of its value under the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Its worth is not yet known.

Mr Crisp's discovery is only slightly smaller than the largest ever British Roman coin hoard, of 54,912 pieces, found in two pots near Marlborough, in 1978. A selection of the Frome coins, found in April, is to go on display at the British Museum from 22 July.

The largest ever hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold was found last year in Staffordshire in a farm field by Terry Herbert, an amateur metal detector who lived alone on disability benefit. It was valued at £3.3m, containing more than 5kg (11lb) of gold and 1.3kg (2.9lb) of silver.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all