Huge Hoard of Ancient Roman Silver Coins Worth £200,000 Found During Treasure Hunt
Fisherman and amateur historian Mike Smale, was hunting for treasure with friends from the Southern Detectorists club when he found a hoard of ancient silver Roman coins potentially worth £200,000. Experts suggest that the discovery is very important as it will shed light on the history of Roman Britain.
Unexpected Discovery of Roman Treasure
The amateur treasure hunter and historian saw his dreams come true by using a simple metal detector. The 600 Roman Denarii were discovered in a field in Bridport, where Mike Smale and friends from the Southern Detectorists club were hunting in hope to find something big. The treasure “hunting” was organized by Sean MacDonald, who as hoping to witness the discovery of an important treasure. All of a sudden, Smale’s detector started beeping insistently, moments before Smale would discover the first of what turn out to be a huge quantity of coins. "It was incredible, a true once-in-a-lifetime find,” Smale said as The Herald reports.
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Mike Smale (left) detected the coins on farmland managed by Anthony Butler (right) (Image: SWNS)
Wasting no time, Smale called over the officials, who sectioned off the area, “I had a good idea about what it was. I had already found one or two Roman denarii that morning. When I dug a hole I saw two coins sticking out the bottom of it, so I called Sean over to have a look at it,” the man said as The Herald reports. “It's a great find, my biggest one, but I shan't be giving it up. It's great fun and I'm sticking with it,” Smale added.
Additionally, an ecstatic MacDonald, couldn’t believe that he had finally witnessed the discovery of a massive hoard, "Bridport is a cracking area anyway, it's very rich in history, but a find like this is unprecedented. I've never seen a hoard of this size before. We found one in Somerset last year but there were just 180, and they weren't of the same caliber. I was elated and shaking because this is a once in a lifetime find,” he stated at the The Herald reports.
The stash of over 600 coins were found during an organised metal detector hunt in Bridport, Dorset, UK (Image: SWNS)
Certain Objects Date Back to Mark Antony and Cleopatra’s Era
Some of the metal disks were minted during the era Roman general Mark Antony was allied with Cleopatra in Egypt and experts now suggest that an archaeological discovery of this size and variety is extremely rare. "The archaeologists excavating it couldn't believe what they were seeing because these coins are so rare. I personally think a find of this size and variety will never be found again," MacDonald told The Herald.
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The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra by Lawrence Alma Tadema (Public Domain)
Numismatist and coin expert Dominic Chorney, said after examining photos of the coins that some of them depict Gods, and were issued by the Roman Republic a few centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ. In a long and detailed statement, Mr. Chorney explains as The Herald reports,
"Others, which feature a distinctive galley - a type of Roman vessel - were minted by Mark Antony while he was allied with his lover Cleopatra in Egypt, between the Autumn of 32 BC to the Spring of 31. They each celebrate the various legions under his command. Antony's coins circulated widely in the Roman Empire, and have certainly traveled a long way.
Republican coins and those of Antony were issued before the Roman Invasion of Britain in AD 43, and would have drifted over in the pockets of Roman soldiers and citizens alike. Others were issued by emperors who ruled during the first century AD. One I can see in the photograph was struck for the ill-fated emperor Otho, who only ruled for three months in (January to April AD 69), during the civil wars which followed the assassination of the notorious emperor Nero.”
Ultimately, Mr. Chorney didn’t forget to mention that the discovery of these coins could possibly reveal new information about Roman Britain’s history, "Coin finds such as this are fascinating, and are incredibly important in shedding light on the history of Roman Britain," he said as the The Herald reports. The coins will be handed over to the coroner for valuation and then likely sold to a museum, with the profits split between the farmer and Smale.
Top image: A handful of the rare Roman coins that were part of the hoard (Credit: SWNS)