Sunday, October 30, 2011

Coin find sparks national interest | Evesham Observer

Gary Smee

27 October. Updated: 27 October 14:51

A METAL detecting enthusiast has described the moment his heart raced as he uncovered Worcestershire's largest ever archaeological hoard. Jethro Carpenter was enjoying a walk with friend Mark Gilmore on Bredon Hill near Pershore with their metal detectors when they unwittingly stepped upon thousands of Roman coins. In a scenario that is every metal-detectors' dream within minutes of putting their devices to the ground their screens reported an 'overload' and it was clear the pair had stumbled across something more unusual than a tin can. For two hours the pair excavated the area by hand, unearthing coin after coin, and upon realising the magnitude of the find they contacted the relevant authorities. In total 3,784 coins were found, believed to be from 244 AD to 282 AD and spanning 16 different emperors. Mr Carpenter, who lives in Redditch, said he thought it was something you only dreamed about as a child. "You watch pirate films and dream of finding buried treasure being uncovered in chests but the truth is that as a metal detector enthusiast you can hunt for months on end and find nothing so much as a dropped penny," the 43-year-old said. "I've known the Bredon Hill area for more than twenty years and taken my detector there countless times so never in a million years did I expect to come across a such a find. "On the day of the discovery, my detector was down for no more than five minutes when it started to make a high-pitched noise, indicating a lot of buried metal below foot. "Mark and I started digging and uncovered coin after coin. 

It was so exciting, my heart was racing as they just kept on appearing and I could see the head of an emperor visible indicating they were Roman. This find offers a window into a completely different world and it makes you wonder 'who buried these coins and why?'" Since the exciting discovery experts from Worcestershire County Council's historic environment and archaeology service have looked at the site further and uncovered evidence of a Roman settlement. Additional research undertaken with the British Museum indicates the hoard was buried nearly a century after it was accumulated - the only known British example. Richard Henry, finds liaison officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, said the find was of major significance. "The coins are a fascinating little piece of history dating from a turbulent time during which the Roman Empire saw revolts, rebellions, plague and invasions," he added. "It is too early to say the value of the hoard, but I've heard of similar finds in the region of £1.5 million." The majority of the stash is currently with the British Museum for conservation and research but it is hoped the coins will return to the county once the work is finished. Once a market valuation is set by the British Museum, Worcestershire County Museum will have four months to raise the funding if they want to display the coins.

An exhibition of a small number of them is running at Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum until Saturday, November 26.