Metal Detector Makes Dream Come True With The Finding of An Ancient Hoard of Roman Coins
By Jean Ward
I have always been interested in history. Going to museums and old places such as churches and castles would send my thoughts racing back through time. The coins in the museums always had me green with envy, but buying such as them would have been too much for my pocketbook.
So, I bought a BFO detector and joined the local metal detecting club. My finds with the inexpensive detector were fairly good, and I accumulated quite a selection of coins and artifacts. But, I seemed to find little from the Roman period, much less the elusive hoard of coins that is every metal detectorist’s dream.
Then, I upgraded to a VLF detector – and, my dream came true! I was just getting familiar with my new Garrett Freedom detector when I phoned this farmer to learn if he had any fields I could search. He was glad to hear from me, for he wanted a favor…the favor being to find a part from a potato machine that his son had lost whilst engaged in a plowing match on a neighboring farm.
It took an hour and a half, but my trusty Garrett found the metal disc that his son had lost. My farmer friend was indeed delighted when I handed it to him. My reward was the opportunity to search a field that had been in pasture for years without being plowed.
Giving me some of the some of the history of his land, the farmer said that a great battle had once been fought nearby. Furthermore, an aerial photo of the land showed a big circle which he called “dead man’s ring.” He had allowed school children to dig under supervision on an adjoining field where they found part of a sword.
My detector and I went to work. It was still somewhat of a “trial run” for me, but the detector was so easy to use that my treasures were easily found. And, interesting treasures they were…Victorian coins, George II, George III, a hammered silver coin of Henry III that had been double-stamped cross on both sides, part of a spur and musket and pistol balls. Some of this had certainly come from the battle on the hill above this field.
Of course, these finds came over a period of months, but I was unable to find anything from the Roman period. Still, I kept looking, and finally my perseverance was rewarded. I got a very good signal at the top of the field, and it was a silver denarius of the Emperor Hadrian, clean and in very fine condition.
Over the next two weeks I found three more denarii and could not believe how clean they were with so little discoloration. In the back of my mind I believed this to be a scattered hoard that had been stored in some receptacle. These coins were so clean! They were unlike other old silver I had found that had been discolored by surrounding soil.
After the field was plowed I could not wait to get started, and I diagramed my finds on a map of the field. This would help me search the proper area because I wanted to find the entire hoard ! I dug a total of 29 denarii, with most of them in one general area. Some had been dragged across the field by the action of plowing. The farmer and I submitted these finds to a Coroner’s Jury, and it was determined to be a treasure trove, which is now on display at the museum which acquired the following denarii:
1 Vitellius, AD 69
2 Vespasian, AD 69-79
3 Domitian, AD 81-96
10 Trajan, AD 98-117
7 Hadrian, AD 117-38
2 Antoninus Plus, AD 138-61
2 Faustina I
1 Faustina II
1 Marcus Aurelius, AD 161-80.
This may not have been a big hoard, but to me it meant achieving something that most detector hobbyists can only dream of. My Garrett Freedom has since found numerous silver and copper coins and other relies. Lasf year I was able to donate a large biscuit tin of them to a local hospice appeal.
Of course, I continue to look in the field where my hoard was located. 1 know that more coins may be there and I will search for them. Who knows what kind of other finds I may make with my metal detector and a little bit of luck!