Metal detecting enthusiasts have uncovered Worcestershire's largest ever archaeological hoard and people are being offered the exciting chance to grab a glimpse. Thousands of Roman coins, unearthed near Evesham, represent the biggest hoard ever uncovered in the county. A selection will be showcased at Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum from tomorrow (Saturday, October 22).
The hoard was discovered in June this year by amateur enthusiasts Jethro Carpenter and Mark Gilmore with their metal detectors. Since the exciting discovery, experts from Worcestershire County Council Historic Environment and Archaeology Service (WHEAS) have undertaken an assessment of the site and uncovered evidence of a Roman settlement and found that the hoard was buried nearly a century after it was accumulated - the only known such British example - meaning the Worcestershire hoard is of national significance.
Jethro Carpenter said:
"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. 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. Even more excitingly, the screen flashed up 'overload'. 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?' It's amazing that the Museums Service, archaeology experts and metal detectorists can work together to try and help us piece together this jigsaw.
Richard Henry (Finds Liaison Officer):
"This discovery of this coin hoard is really exciting news for Worcestershire and of major significance not only for the county but also the country. The 3784 coins span 38 years and are a fascinating little piece of history dating from a turbulent time during which the Roman Empire saw revolts, rebellions, plague and invasions. This project is a fantastic example of the ways different professional groups and the finders can work together to help preserve our nation's heritage. We really hope people will take the time to come and visit our exhibition where they will get a chance to see some of the coins and have the opportunity to find out more about the treasure process, from discovery to identification."
The majority of the hoard (3,700 coins) depict a total of 16 different Roman Emperors and it is currently with the British Museum for conservation and research. This information, when complete, will enable the local Coroner to decide whether the hoard should be declared as Treasure. If this is the case, a valuation will be set by the independent Treasure Valuation Committee and Worcestershire County Museum will have four months to raise the funding if they decide to acquire the find for long-term exhibition in the county.
The exhibition at Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum runs from Saturday, October 22 to Saturday, November 26, with a special introductory talk at 11am by Richard Henry.