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Issue 305 – Frome Roman coin hoard comes to town

POSSIBLY the largest Roman coin hoard ever to be found in Britain has been unearthed near Frome – and people will be able to marvel at the ‘Frome hoard’ when it goes on display in the library this week.

Frome Library will be displaying a selection of the third century coins at a special event on Thursday 22nd July from 10.45am.
Representatives from the British Museum and Somerset County Council will be present, as will Dave Crisp, the metal detector enthusiast from Wiltshire who discovered the hoard of over 50,000 coins during one of his regular metal detecting trips. The third century coins were found in a large, well-preserved pot – a type of container normally used for storing food. The bronze coins range from the mid to late third century and include some unusual finds, including coins of the British usurper Carausius.
Dave, who is a member of the Trowbridge Metal Detecting Club, said, “I have been metal detecting since 1988 and this hoard is the most exciting and important find that I have ever made.”
“I didn’t realise I was onto something big at first. I got this funny signal, and that’s usually a piece of iron or a horseshoe. But I’ve been doing this 22 years, and something just told me to dig it.”
He added that his choice of location was down to luck. “It was just being in the right place at the right time. I’ve got permission from different farmers across Wiltshire and Somerset, and it was just luck.”
Realising that he had found something important, Dave left the hoard where it was and notified Somerset County Council’s portable antiquities scheme straight away. Archaeologists then set about the delicate task of excavating the pot and its contents. The hoard was then taken to the British Museum, so that the coins could be cleaned and recorded.
“Leaving it in the ground for the archaeologists to excavate was a very hard decision to take, but as it had been there for 1800 years, I thought a few days more would not hurt. My family thought I was mad to walk away and leave it,” said Dave.
Dave was invited to the three-day dig when archaeologists excavated the hoard, and even slept at the site with his grandson to guard the hole. “It was just as enjoyable seeing the coins emerge from the dig as finding it,” he said.
Discussions are well underway between Somerset County Council’s heritage service and the British Museum, and it has been agreed that subject to funding, the hoard should stay in Somerset.
Stephen Minnitt, head of museums said, “This is a find of great national importance. The finder and the landowner will be entitled to a reward and we are determined to raise the sum when it is agreed to retain the hoard in Somerset. Hopefully the coins will be able to go on display in the new Museum of Somerset when it re-opens in 2011.”

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