A hoard of more than 22,000 Roman coins found in Seaton in East Devon is the fourth-largest hoard of coins ever found in Britain.
Announced Sept. 26, 2014, the discovery was made in November 2013 by East Devon builder and metal detector enthusiast Laurence Egerton while operating under license on Clinton Devon Estates land near Seaton Down. The findspot is near the Honeyditches archaeological site, which includes a Roman villa and a possible Roman fort. Devon is located in the southwest part of England.
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In a press release, the coins are reported as copper by the authorities governing hoard finds, but collectors call the metal these coins are made from bronze.
The coins are not denominated but often called AE3 or AE4, reflecting their size, or simply bronze, indicating the metal.
After uncovering the coins, Egerton reported the find to the landowner, to Devon County Council archaeologist Bill Horner and to the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme through Devon’s Finds Liaison Officer Danielle Wootton. The hoard was then carefully removed in its entirety by a team of archaeologists and over the past 10 months the coins have been lightly cleaned, identified and cataloged by experts at the British Museum.
The Seaton Down Hoard was declared treasure at an inquest Sept. 12 — a formal process in Great Britain for found coin hoards.
Many of the coins found in the hoard are “very well preserved,” according to the press release issued by the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, which is trying to raise funds to acquire the coins.
Roger Bland, Keeper of Britain, Europe and Prehistory at the British Museum, said that while the hoard is one of the largest ever found within the former Roman Empire, “the [contemporaneous] financial value would not have been great, amounting to approximately four gold coins (solidi). This sum of money would possibly have provided the ration of four soldiers for one year or a worker’s pay for two years.”