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Two for One Deal - Finding the Frome Hoard

Explorer II

September 14, 2010 11:00am
Metal Detector Finds - Frome Hoard

Winner of Find of the Month - September 2010

It was a warm sunny day in April when I had a day off from my job as a hospital chef, here in the West country, I decided to go out for the day. Arriving at one of my farms down in Somerset, I could see that my farmer had ploughed, and was rolling one of the far fields. That’s the one for today I thought. So after kitting up, and checking the batteries on my Minelab Explorer II, I started to cut across two grass fields, detecting as I went. Coming into the second field I got a sharp clear signal on my Explorer II that meant a good find. Digging down, there in my hand was a silver Roman Siliqua.

Now I had had one of these the year before further up the field. Now I had a second, so without giving it much thought I went on detecting, and then bang, I had another.

Metal Detector Finds - Frome Hoard

This could only mean one thing, a hoard, probably a purse loss. In the next six hours I found over thirty. Each one giving me a great signal, even though some of them were ten inches down. Mixed in with the whole ones were a few bits, some only quarters. After showing and telling my farmer that I had to report them, I got off home and let my Finds Liaison officer and the local Coroner know. During the next week I went twice more and found another twenty odd, but by now the only signals were very faint and just deep bits, but the Explorer was still giving a good signal, and I was getting further and further away from the area of the coins.

Then on the third day I had a funny signal very faint, and not very clear, and the display was jumping around not locking on at all. Now the Explorer II is a really great machine, but like all machines it can be fooled by deep iron, and that’s what I thought it was, but after twenty two years detecting experience I just had to check it out. Six inches down in a small hole, nothing, then another six inches and still nothing, time to get out the probe, still nothing. By this time I am convinced it’s a bit of deep iron, and I am cursing large horseshoes ploughshares, and Ironsmiths in general.

Metal Detector Finds - Frome Hoard

Then it's time for another spade full, and nothing in the spoil heap, except clay, showing I am well into the sub soil. So down on my knees and try the probe again, at last a signal, its only two inches away at the most. Time for the gentle approach, out comes the knife. Gently prising up a large chunk of clay I find a piece of black pottery, but no metal. Another chunk, and as I turned it over there stuck in the clay is a small Roman radiate coin. I quickly pull out another handful of clay, and on this piece are about ten coins.

It's at this point I realise I had found another Roman hoard, and I just sat back on my heels and shouted “I have done it“. Twenty two years detecting and I have found two hoards in three days. When I had got over the shock, I decided to leave it to the archaeologists, that was the hardest decision I have ever made. I did not know what exactly I had found, it, could have been a small pot of a few hundred coins, but in the end it was the size of a beer barrel containing 52,503 Roman coins.

Metal Detector Finds - Frome Hoard

The biggest ever hoard of Roman coins were found in 1978 at Cunetio by Marlborough in Wiltshire, and that was 55,000 coins, but these were apparently in two pots, before they were mixed up and taken home.

Seeing the coins coming out over a three day period was fantastic. They were all covered in thick green gunk, and you had a hard job to tell what type of coins they were. But it was fairly obvious that the majority of them were going to be bronze Radiates.

So with fifty two and a half thousand Roman coins under my belt, this means I am the finder of the biggest single hoard of Roman coins ever.

I never did get to detect in that ploughed field, but that will still be there next year.

Would I have found the hoard with one of my other detectors? No, I don’t believe I would have, it was just too deep.

The full story is on Our Clubs website

Good Luck, Dave - UK

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