Saturday, November 29, 2014

The St Albans Hoard

In October 2012, a novice treasure hunter who bought a basic metal detector returned to the shop in Hertfordshire weeks later, clutching part of Englands' finest ever hoard of Late Roman gold coins.
The man stunned staff by showing them 40 gold solidi, before asking: 'What do I do with this?' They contacted local experts and together got the permits they needed, headed back to the scene and pulled up another 119 pieces.

Roman wall in St Albans.

The man had bought a Garrett Ace 150, retailing at around £135 and described as "the ideal metal detector for parent-child expeditions or for adults interested in exploring a potential hobby".

Local heritage officials described the hoard as 'nationally significant.' The coins are a rare example of the solidus, dating from the last days of Roman rule in Britain. The last consignments of them reached UK shores in 408 AD.
The hoard is believed to be one of the largest Roman gold coin hoards discovered in the UK. The 159 coins date to the end of the 4th Century AD during the final years of Roman rule in Britain.

They were mostly struck in the Italian cities of Milan and Ravenna and issued under the Emperors Gratian, Valentinian, Theodosius, Arcadius and Honorius.
According to the St. Albans & Harpenden Review, Wesley Carrington took his newly bought metal detector out into a field near St. Albans in Hertfordshire, England, last October. After finding a spoon and then a half penny, Carrington's machine beeped a third time, and he dug seven inches down to uncover a coin that was gold in color with a Roman figure on it.
The coin was an ancient Roman solidus, and there were 158 more buried with it, a hoard with an estimated worth of at least 100,000 pounds sterling, or $156,000, according to The Daily Mail.

"I’ve been in the job for ten years and it is certainly the most spectacular find," Julian Watters, the finds liaison officer for Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, told The Daily Mail. "Just to put it in context, I had only previously seen four Roman gold coins out of 50,000 finds" explained Watters, who helped excavate the remaining coins.

Carrington told the St. Albans & Harpenden Review that he did nothing to prepare for his treasure hunt besides watching a few YouTube videos about using a metal detector, and that he chose his location by driving to "the closest area of woodland to where I live."
A large sapphire ring found by metal detector enthusiast Michael Greenhorn in a field near Escrick, England is thought to have originated in the 5th or 6th century and may have even belonged to a king. Greenhorn sold the ring to the Yorkshire Museum for $50,000.