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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 July 2007, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
Reward wait after Roman coin find
Roman coins
The coins represented about two years' salary for a soldier
A metal detector enthusiast who discovered a treasure trove of nearly 600 Roman coins in a field is waiting to hear how much he will receive.

After four hours' digging near Newport, Brian Stephens found 587 silver denarii dating back some 2,000 years.

Fragments of a pottery container were also found nearby. The haul has been declared treasure and will be held at the National Museum Wales in Cardiff.

Mr Stephens, 45, will have to share his reward with the owner of the field.

At the treasure trove hearing, Gwent coroner David Bowen described it as "a particularly significant find," and the small coins were showing little wear.

The total haul at Llanvaches eventually comprised 599 silver denarii, buried in the years around AD160.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Stephens, a metal detector enthusiast of 25 years, said he had never found anything as significant before.

"I knew what it was straight away," he said. It took about four hours to get out because the ground was so hard."

Brian Stephens
I was a bit excited to say the least
Brian Stephens

He said the coins showed various Roman leaders, including Nero and Marcus Aurelius.

"We found 587 but then we found another 12. I was a bit excited to say the least.

"I couldn't believe that had been buried for 2,000 years.

'A considerable sum'

"They were only about 4in (10cm) below. I found one and then another and then there was a whole lump of them," he added.

Edward Besly, a numismatist at the museum, said: "Llanvaches lies between the fortress of the second Augustan legion at Caerleon and the local tribal capital, Venta Silurum, at Caerwent.

"At the time, these coins would have represented about two years' wages for a legionary soldier - and would have taken much longer to save.

"Whether the life savings of a retired soldier who settled locally, or the proceeds of commerce relating to Caerleon or Caerwent, the Llanvaches find represents a considerable sum of money and is one of the largest 2nd Century silver coin hoards recorded from Roman Britain."

But Mr Stephens will have to wait to discover the value of the coins. They will be assessed by experts before he finds out how much reward he will receive.

"What happens is that the hoard will now go for valuation by an independent committee which establishes what it regards as a fair market value and that's the basis of the reward," said Mr Besley.

Coins unearthed by a metal detector enthusiast are declared treasure

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