The largest hoard of Roman coins ever found in Britain has been discovered on a farm near Frome by a metal-detecting hobbyist The sheer size of the hoard – weighing 160kg – poses a bit of puzzle to archaeologists because such Roman stashes are normally small and buried to keep them out of the hands of bothersome invaders. But archaeologists say this money must represent the life savings of an entire Roman community. Might we hazard that this was the ancient world's equivalent of a cash machine?
One has to admire the ancient safeguards against inflation too. Making money out of precious metals ensured that it retained its value. A useful lesson for the Bank of England perhaps?
Another thought occurs. This is the second pile of ancient treasure that has been discovered in the past year. A huge Anglo-Saxon hoard – 1,500 gold and silver pieces – was found in a Staffordshire field last July by another metal-detecting enthusiast. It is hard not to notice the contrast between all these riches resting beneath the ground and the distinct shortage of cash above it at the moment. Memo to the Treasury: if Plan A for economic recovery doesn't work out, invest in metal detectors.