British Museum now to examine the discovery

St Albans & Harpenden Review: The Roman coins. The Roman coins.

A large collection of gold coins dating back to late Roman times has been found in St Albans.

The 159 coins, known as solidus, were found on private land in the north of the district at the beginning of this month.

The collection, which is said to be in very good condition, dates back to the end of the fourth century.

It is believed to be one of the largest collections ever discovered in the UK.

The value of the gold is not yet known.

The coins were found scattered across a large area and experts believe they have been disturbed during the last couple of hundred years by quarrying or plough action.

The discovery was made by a team from the district council’s museum’s service.

David Thorold, prehistory to medieval curator at Verulamium Museum, said: "During the period of the Roman occupation of Britain, coins were usually buried for two reasons.

"They were buried as a religious sacrifice to the gods, or as a secure store of wealth, with the aim of later recovery.

"Threat of war or raids might lead to burial in the latter case, as may the prospect of a long journey, or any other risky activity.

"Gold solidi were extremely valuable coins and were not traded or exchanged on a regular basis.

"They would have been used for large transactions such as buying land or goods by the shipload.

"The gold coins in the economy guaranteed the value of all the silver and especially the bronze coins in circulation.

"If you saved enough bronze, you could exchange it for a silver coin.

"If you saved enough silver, you could exchange it for a gold coin.

"However, most people would not have had regular access to them.

"Typically, the wealthy Roman elite, merchants or soldiers receiving bulk pay were the recipients."

Independent experts from the British Museum’s panel will now examine the coins.

Councillor Mike Wakely, portfolio holder for sports, leisure and heritage at the council, said: "This is an exciting find of national significance, and one that our museums’ team is very excited about.

"We hope to have an opportunity to display these coins at Verulamium Museum in St Albans over the coming months, once the formalities have been dealt with."

Comments (8)

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8:39pm Tue 16 Oct 12

Panglossian says...

But apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, viniculture, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
But apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, viniculture, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us? Panglossian

11:13am Wed 17 Oct 12

Lemsfordalex says...

I would like to know more about how these coins were found. I can't believe a museum worker just happened to stumble on them while wandering across a field. Surely there must have been a metal detector or something.
I would like to know more about how these coins were found. I can't believe a museum worker just happened to stumble on them while wandering across a field. Surely there must have been a metal detector or something. Lemsfordalex

4:43pm Wed 17 Oct 12

crazy cyclist says...

It was a metal Detectorist who found the hoard and he reported the find to the st.albans museum. Lucky person, was a novice who had just taken up the hobby.
It was a metal Detectorist who found the hoard and he reported the find to the st.albans museum. Lucky person, was a novice who had just taken up the hobby. crazy cyclist

4:55pm Wed 17 Oct 12

Lemsfordalex says...

Thankyou Crazy Cyclist - you obviously have inside information. Isn't that the sort of question the reporter should have asked?
Thankyou Crazy Cyclist - you obviously have inside information. Isn't that the sort of question the reporter should have asked? Lemsfordalex

8:12pm Wed 17 Oct 12

trowelsedge says...

"But apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, viniculture, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?"

...They gave St.Albans Arc& Arc a perfectly acceptable reason to wander around digging holes in the immediate landscape 2000 years later of course!
"But apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, viniculture, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?" ...They gave St.Albans Arc& Arc a perfectly acceptable reason to wander around digging holes in the immediate landscape 2000 years later of course! trowelsedge

10:51am Thu 18 Oct 12

crazy cyclist says...

Lemsford Alex, if you search for the Sandridge Hoard online you will find more information. There is even a video I found of the dig, not the greatest entertainment though! Generally the locations are not revealed due to the problem of thieves called night hawks who go to archaeological sites at night typically to illegally metal detect and steal artefacts.
Lemsford Alex, if you search for the Sandridge Hoard online you will find more information. There is even a video I found of the dig, not the greatest entertainment though! Generally the locations are not revealed due to the problem of thieves called night hawks who go to archaeological sites at night typically to illegally metal detect and steal artefacts. crazy cyclist

8:41pm Thu 18 Oct 12

trowelsedge says...

Night hawks (or sh*te hawks as I prefer to term them) have certainly been observed in the St.Albans area operating in the dead of night, so indeed the Crazy cyclist's reasoning is bang on.
I do have reservations in relation to Mr Thorold's speculation as to how the hoard came to be there, however.
I personally view the dating evidence to be a potentially significant clue as to why these coins might have been buried. This was around the time of end game in terms of both Roman occupation and significant military presence. As a consequence of such a declining occupying police force perhaps elements of the less morally inclined citizens of Verulamium (and surrounding areas) began taking bolder advantage of this situation and as such forced the indigenous (and perhaps transient) wealthy to take drastic/panic induced steps to conceal the contents of their bank accounts. Fate may perhaps have conspired against this particular account holder though, and as such he sadly never managed to retrieve his hoard.
Night hawks (or sh*te hawks as I prefer to term them) have certainly been observed in the St.Albans area operating in the dead of night, so indeed the Crazy cyclist's reasoning is bang on. I do have reservations in relation to Mr Thorold's speculation as to how the hoard came to be there, however. I personally view the dating evidence to be a potentially significant clue as to why these coins might have been buried. This was around the time of end game in terms of both Roman occupation and significant military presence. As a consequence of such a declining occupying police force perhaps elements of the less morally inclined citizens of Verulamium (and surrounding areas) began taking bolder advantage of this situation and as such forced the indigenous (and perhaps transient) wealthy to take drastic/panic induced steps to conceal the contents of their bank accounts. Fate may perhaps have conspired against this particular account holder though, and as such he sadly never managed to retrieve his hoard. trowelsedge

10:41am Fri 19 Oct 12

crazy cyclist says...

This hoard is possibly bad news for land owners and legitimate metal detectorists in the st.albans area. No doubt there will be some tempted to engage in illegal activities, tresspassing and damaging land and archaeology. I am a beginner Metal Detectorist and have been denied permission in every occasion I have asked, probably due to the tresspassing antics of the night hawks. I dont know why these people think they will make money out of selling artefacts, it is illegal and probably very hard to do. I am just interested in finding historical items.
This hoard is possibly bad news for land owners and legitimate metal detectorists in the st.albans area. No doubt there will be some tempted to engage in illegal activities, tresspassing and damaging land and archaeology. I am a beginner Metal Detectorist and have been denied permission in every occasion I have asked, probably due to the tresspassing antics of the night hawks. I dont know why these people think they will make money out of selling artefacts, it is illegal and probably very hard to do. I am just interested in finding historical items. crazy cyclist

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