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Issue 323 – Frome Hoard of Roman coins to stay in Somerset

The Frome Hoard will remain in Somerset after the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) announced a grant of £294,026 to the Museum of Somerset.

A total of £320,250 was needed to keep Britain’s largest collection of silver and bronze Roman coins ever to be unearthed in a single container in Somerset. A further £100,000 has also been raised for its conservation. News of the NHMF grant marks the end of an intensive fundraising campaign led by the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for works of art, which kick-started the appeal in November 2010 with a grant of £40,250.
Members of the public donated £13,657, which the Art Fund matched with a further £10,000 through its first ever match funding appeal. The acquisition was also made possible thanks to funding from the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Headley Trust, one of the Sainsbury Family charitable trusts, and other generous donations.
Heritage minister, John Penrose said, “Making sure the Frome Hoard stays in Britain is great news, but ensuring it can stay in the very county in which it was discovered is even better. The fantastic work of all the organisations involved including the NHMF, along with the generosity of the public, will mean an important part of our Roman heritage will be enjoyed for years to come.”
Dame Jenny Abramsky, chair of NHMF said, “What fantastic news. This is exactly the kind of precious heritage the National Heritage Memorial Fund was set-up 31 years ago to protect. This glorious collection is a truly inspirational discovery which has captured the public’s imagination.”
Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund said, “We are thrilled that the campaign has been a success. The Roman coins will go on display in Somerset and provide experts with the opportunity to carry out vital research. Most importantly it will mean that generations can learn, enjoy and be inspired by the coins.
The Frome Hoard is the second largest collection of Roman coins ever found in Britain and the largest ever found in one single container. Comprising 52,503 coins dating between 253 and 293 AD, they cover the issues of 26 different Roman emperors and some have never been seen before.
Over 760 of the coins belong to the reign of Marcus Aurelius Mauseus Valerius Carausius, known as Britain’s Pirate Emperor. Carausius led a revolt against the Empire declaring himself Emperor of Britain and Northern Gaul. This is the largest group of his coins found anywhere.
Stephen Minnitt, Head of the Museum of Somerset said, “The Frome Hoard has received a tremendous amount of public interest and I am delighted that the campaign to acquire it was successful. The story will not end there however. As the hoard undergoes study over the next year or two many more of its secrets will be unlocked.”
The Frome Hoard was discovered by metal detectorist, Dave Crisp near Frome last April. Following conservation, the collection will go on permanent display at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton, when it reopens in the summer of 2011 following a £6.9m refurbishment.

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