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Wednesday, 10 January, 2001, 14:38 GMT
Gold coin hoard unveiled
Discovered Roman coin
The Roman coins lay undiscovered for 1,800 years
A rare hoard of Roman gold coins dating back 1,800 years have been unveiled after being unearthed in the City of London.

The 43 22-carat gold coins - in mint condition - range from the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero in about AD 65 to the reign of the Roman Emperor Aurelius in AD 174.

The "find of a lifetime" is the first of its kind in London and only the third such coin type dating from the period to be unearthed in the UK.

Archeologist Joe Severn
Archeologist Joe Severn found the hoard
The coins go on public display at the Museum of London from Thursday.

Archaeologist Joe Severn discovered the hoard inside a leather bag during an archaeological dig in the heart of the City.

Building work at the site in Plantation Place, due to be developed into an office block, revealed a Roman villa and the coins were found under its floor.

Under the 1996 Treasure Act the find was notified to the City of London coroner and the owners of the site, the British Land Company, then donated it to the Museum of London.

Rebellion

The coins amount to four years' salary for a Roman soldier and would have been worth the equivalent of 100,000 in today's money but has been valued as a historical find at about 70,000.

Museum director, Dr Simon Thurley, said he was delighted the discovery would be on show to the public.

"Never before have we found anything quite like this," he said.


At first we thought there might be a dozen but they kept on coming, this is the find of a lifetime

Archaeologist Joe Severn
He said that the coins were probably saved over many years.

"Normally hoards are buried because there is some fear of rebellion or loss of life," he said.

"In fact London in the late Second Century was really rather a safe place so it can't have been that. It seems to have been possibly someone's life savings."

Mr Severn said he never expected to find anything so significant.

"You just do not expect this on an archaeological site," he said.

Religious offering

"I was merely cleaning an area after removing the remains of the floor of the room when a few of the coins appeared.

"We could see they were gold and that more were present, but first needed to record the context of the find accurately before excavating them.

"At first we thought there might be a dozen but they kept on coming, this is the find of a lifetime."

The site in the City of London
The site will eventually be developed in to offices
The coins are just the latest in a long line of Roman currency unearthed in the UK.

Schoolboy John Philpotts found a hoard of 50,000 worth of Roman coins, including three gold solidi, in a Wiltshire field last month.

In August 1999, 123 Roman coins worth 200,000 and thought to have formed part of a religious offering were found near Shefford, Bedfordshire.

The most significant find of late Anglo-Saxon coins in England in this century came two years ago when 500 silver pennies were found at Appledore, Dungeness, Kent.


Silver hoard going on show

Britain's biggest hoard of Roman silver denarius coins is also to go on show to the public in the near future more than two years after coming to light.

The 9,213 early Third Century coins were discovered by treasure hunting cousins Kevin and Martin Elliott, both 33, on farmland at Shapwick, near Glastonbury, Somerset, in September, 1998.

They received 265,000 from Somerset county museum for the haul, which they found in a field of barley stubble using metal detectors.

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