21st Mar, 2019

Cash boost to keep Roman coins in Warwickshire

Ian Hughes 12th Mar, 2019

A BID to keep a major hoard of Roman coins discovered in Warwickshire in the county has received a major cash boost.

The hoard made up of 440 silver denarii coins was unearthed during an archaeological dig at a Roman site at Edge Hill in 2015. They were buried in a ceramic pot over 1900 years ago under the floor of a building.

As with all finds of gold or silver of this date, the hoard was declared ‘treasure’ and has been with the British Museum for formal identification and valuation.

As The Observer revealed last month, Warwickshire Museum has until early summer to raise £62,000 to acquire the coins to display them at the Market Hall Museum in Warwick.

And heritage chiefs this week announced they had secured £44,000 – £30k from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and £14k from the Art Fund – towards the purchase of the hoard

The big push is now on to raise a further £18k to meet the £62,000 target. Applications have already been submitted for further grants, and condition of the purchase is a minimum of £3,000 needs to be raised locally.

To help reach the target a fund-raising evening will be held at Market Hall Museum on Friday April 5.

For one night only the pot the coins were found in, together with some examples from the previous Roman hoard, will be on display, along with other Roman treasures found in Warwickshire. Experts will also be on hand to answer questions about the coins.

During the evening a raffle and auction will be held with all proceeds going to the campaign, along with all profits from the tickets and the bar. Tickets cost £20, and are available by calling 01926 412500.

County heritage spokesman Coun Dave Reilly said: “This is an amazingly important find for Warwickshire and our Roman past. I am delighted with the response so far from Warwickshire residents and businesses they have really got behind the campaign.

“I am also very grateful to the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Art Fund for their generous contributions.

“We still have some way to go but, with the fundraising evening and the donations at the museum, I am confident that we will bring the hoard home for Warwickshire’s residents and visitors to enjoy for generations to come.”

Origin of the coins

The coins were probably brought over by the Roman administration shortly after the invasion in AD43 – there was no proper monetary system in Britain before then and they needed coins to pay the legions which came over at the time to ‘quell’ the Britons.

The soldiers would have spent them locally wherever they were stationed, so the hoard gives us a sense of where those coins ended up.

Denarii were the only silver coin in circulation at the time. A Roman legionary soldier was paid 225 denarii a year, so the hoard equates to two years’ salary.

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