Club news: Society hears of Roman coin discovery

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Berkhamsted and District Archaeological Society

The society welcomed Dr Sam Moorhead from the Department of Portable Antiquities and Treasure at the British Museum to speak on The Frome Hoard of 52,501 Roman coins, at the March meeting.

Found by a metal detectorist in 2010, the hoard dates to around AD 290 and was the largest single pot hoard found from Roman Britain. The coins range from AD 253 to around AD 290 and were mainly of the usurper emperors of the Gallic Empire. The pot had been filled all at one time, but the coins had been gathered over a period apparently in separate bags and poured in because some of the later coins were in the middle of the pot and earlier ones at the top. These were mainly of the emperor Carausius, AD 286-293. There were none of Allectus, his finance minister, who had him assassinated and succeeded him.

The coins of Carausius, presently over 800, with conservation still going on so more may be recognised, is the largest group ever found in Britain and included five of his very rare silver denarii coins, each with a different reverse type. Many of the reverse types on the bronze coins are the first examples known.

Declared as Treasure, the hoard was valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee at the British Museum for £320,250, but the conservation costs of cleaning and separating the coins are currently in excess of £120,000. There is still much work to be done here as well as in the interpretation and publication of the hoard that has thrown new light on the history of Roman Britain.

Contact the programme secretary on 01442 257414.