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Detectorists discovery of Roman silver coins in Vale of Pewsey expected to fetch £40,000



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A hoard of late Roman silver coins discovered on a camping weekend in Wiltshire will go under the hammer at Noonans in London next week.

The hoard of 161 coins was discovered by three metal detectorists from Essex in September 2020.

The group were staying in a field near Pewsey when they found the treasure trove just six paces from their tent.

Mick Rae holding up one of the coins Credit: Rob Abbott
Mick Rae holding up one of the coins Credit: Rob Abbott
Vale of Pewsey hoard Picture: Noonans
Vale of Pewsey hoard Picture: Noonans

Mick Rae, a 63-year-old herds manager, Robert Abbott, 53, who owns a computer shop and Dave Allen, 59, a carpenter, were spending the weekend camping on a field in Wiltshire. Dave and Rob both live in Essex, and Mick, at the time, lived in Wiltshire.

As Rob explained: “Having finished breakfast first, I turned on my machine, a Minelab Equinox 800, and having walked around six paces from the tent, I found several tent pegs and just under the surface a late Roman silver siliqua in pristine condition. A few moments later beside it, I found another one!”

This prompted both Mick and Dave to grab their detectors and help in the search.

Vale of Pewsey hoard Picture: Noonans
Vale of Pewsey hoard Picture: Noonans
Vale of Pewsey hoard Picture: Noonans
Vale of Pewsey hoard Picture: Noonans

Over the course of the weekend they found 161 coins in total, comprising silver siliqua and miliarense dating from AD 340-402.

They had to keep them in their camping washing-up bowl as they didn’t have anything else to store them in.

Rob continued: “Ironically, we had been camping there two weeks previous for a week-long detecting outing. What we hadn't realised is we'd actually camped right on top of the area where the coins were found.”

He finished: “Unbelievably I don't actually have any photographs of myself finding any coins. I think everyone else was too excited to be taking pictures. We are looking forward to the forthcoming auction but at the moment, we have no idea how we will spend the money.”

Consultant (artefacts and antiquities) at Noonans Nigel Mills explains: “Virtually all of the coins are in mint condition and have not even needed to be cleaned since their discovery. The hoard was buried at a time when Roman rule in Britain under the Emperor Honorius was no longer viable with the army being recalled to protect other provinces. In AD 410 Britain was told to protect itself by Honorius.”

Vale of Pewsey hoard Picture: Noonans
Vale of Pewsey hoard Picture: Noonans

He went on to say: “As a result Britain has become a treasure island of late 4th-century and early 5th-century gold and silver Roman coin and jewellery hoards as the local population buried their valuables and then fell victim to Saxon raids. Detector finds in recent years include the Thetford and Hoxne hoards.”

The British Museum has studied the coins and is retaining just two for its collection from the hoard.

The auction will take place at Noonans in Mayfair, London, on Tuesday, May 17.



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