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EDITIONS
Sunday, 3 November, 2002, 10:48 GMT
Detector man finds buried treasure
Roman brooches
The silver Roman brooches are treasure trove
London's Inside Out team meets an amateur archaeologist who may have hit the jackpot by using his metal detector in a field just outside London.

For David Phillips, it began as just another trip to a field outside London with his trusty metal detector.

But, after stumbling on a huge signal from under the rich earth, he began digging and found a haul of pottery, bronze, glass vases and bottles in what is now believed to be a Roman grave.

Museum experts reckoned the objects dated from about 140AD and would have belonged to someone who was very wealthy.

Two silver brooches found in the grave are being examined by experts from the British Museum, who say they are very unusual for the period.

Metal detector enthusiasts
Enthusiasts say they are knowledgable amateurs

"The heart was pounding," said Mr Phillips, who was with a friend when he made the discovery.

"We both looked at each other in astonishment. We'd been detecting together for about 10 years - we'd found some fabulous stuff but this was outstanding."

The find is so important it is going to museums, but Mr Phillips' wife Carole says this is unusual because normally he never gets rid of anything.

Expert valuation

"We have boxes of the stuff all over the place - lumps of unidentified lead through to quite nice coins."

Mr Phillips' find could make him a rich man. Any ancient find containing silver or gold is classed as treasure trove.

Museums have the right to buy the items based on a valuation by independent experts. The finder keeps the cash.

Roman finds
Glass vases and pottery were found in the grave

"I'd like to think it would be worth money because we're working people. My friend who found it with me, has three young children. Everybody could do with a few more pennies.

"Hopefully - 50,000... 100,000... maybe 200,000, I really don't know."

It may have been an amateur who found the Roman grave but the site is now of great interest to archaeologists.

The site, whose location is not being revealed to prevent people from swarming to the area, also contains large post holes which may be a late Iron Age hall or a Roman barn.

Archaeologists cannot excavate the whole site because it would cost too much, but are hoping to raise the money for a couple of trenches.

Inside Out is on BBC One at 1930 GMT on Mondays.


Click here to go to BBC London Online
See also:

05 Apr 02 | England
28 Mar 02 | Wales
14 Jan 00 | Science/Nature
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