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Tuesday, November 9, 1999 Published at 19:37 GMT


Farmer's son keeps Roman treasures

The coins provide more evidence about the Romans in Britain

A farmer's son who found thousands of silver Roman coins when he used a metal detector for the first time is to be allowed to keep the huge haul.

Kevin Elliott, 33, used milking buckets to collect the 9,310 coins dating from 31 BC after finding them 10 inches below the surface of a field of barley stubble.

The BBC's Jane O'Brien: It was the first time the metal detector had been used
An inquest has ruled that the nationally important discovery - Britain's biggest find of Roman silver denarii coins - is treasure and belongs to the finders.

Mr Elliott and his cousin Martin, 33, found the coins on the 400-acre Northbrook Farm at Shapwick, near Glastonbury, Somerset, in August last year.

[ image: Kevin, left, had never used a metal detector, but Martin is a fanatic]
Kevin, left, had never used a metal detector, but Martin is a fanatic
Now Kevin, whose family owns the farm, and Martin, from Seend, near Melksham, Wiltshire, could make hundreds of thousands of pounds from the sale of the haul.

After the hearing in Taunton, Kevin said his cousin, a metal-detecting enthusiast, had to show him how to use the detection device.

He said he found a coin in a gateway within three or four minutes - and just 30 minutes later they had turned up a huge hoard of thousands of similar coins.

His father Graham said the family had been farming the land as tenants for 36 years until they bought it in January last year - allowing them to use metal detectors there for the first time.


Of the day of the find he was milking and went on: "Kevin came back and said he wanted a bucket - and was back in quarter of an hour with it full of these coins.

"He said he wanted another bucket, and I thought it was about time I went to see what they were doing. We filled another bucket from this mass of coins in the ground, it was amazing," said Mr Elliott.

[ image: Some of the coins were made in Rome - others came from Syria and Egypt]
Some of the coins were made in Rome - others came from Syria and Egypt
Martin said his father built him his first metal detector when he was 10 - and this was his first big find.

"The odds of finding something like this in such a short space of time are phenomenal, mindboggling," he said.

The coins range in age from some issued by Mark Antony before the battle of Actium in 31 BC, to those minted for the emperor Severus Alexander, who reigned until 224 AD.

Somerset County museum spokesman Steve Minnitt said the hoard had been buried beneath the floor of what surveys had established was a previously unknown courtyard villa.

Dr Richard Abdy, from the British Museum, said most of the coins were produced in Rome, Syria and Egypt.

The coins were buried in approximately AD 230 and were equivalent to about 10 years pay for a Roman soldier.

Their value will be decided by the Treasure Valuation in the coming weeks.

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