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13 November 2014

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You are in: Berkshire > History > History links > UK's oldest Roman Coin found in Thatcham

UK's oldest Roman Coin found in Thatcham

Imagine finding a 2,000 year old Roman coin near the ancient path of the Ridgeway that had slipped from the fingers of a Celt in 207BC. Thatcham metal detectorist Malcolm Langford has discovered the UK's oldest Roman coin.

The UK's oldest Roman coin.

The UK's oldest Roman coin.

Driven by his love of history, retired electrician Malcolm Langford has been metal detecting for seven years, always with the permission of the relevant landowner.


Treasure Trove was originally defined as gold or silver in any form, whether coin, plate or bullion which had been hidden and rediscovered, and which no person could prove he or she owned.

The Treasure Trove law was replaced by the Treasure Act in 1996.

If you find treasure there is a legal obligation to report it.

The British Museum decides if a found item falls under the treasure act, and then the local coroner holds an inquest to decide who is the legal finder of the treasure.

If the museum decides to buy the treasure, it must pay the finder its full value.

However, most metal detectors agree to split any money from treasure found 50/50 with the landowner where the treasure was found.

He has found everything from stone age artefacts to Roman coins, and enjoys taking his finds to schools to pass on his passion for the past.

But his latest find, the UK's oldest Roman coin, has amazed archeologists.

Malcolm told BBC Berkshire's Henry Kelly: "It was in a pasture field, near the ancient Ridgeway and it was probably six  to eight inches into the ground.

"I dug it up and I could see it was a Republican denarius because there was a Roman head on it.

The Ridgeway

The Ridgeway

"It came out of the ground all brown, and I used a bit of spit and a bit of sheep's wool to clean it and it came up silver."

Malcolm said he discovered the age of the coin when he took it, along with another Iron Age silver coin of Eppillus to the West Berkshire and Oxfordshire Finds Liaison Officer, Anni Byard, so she could record them.

Anni immediately confirmed the Iron Age coin was only one of 11 that have been recorded in the UK and suspected the Roman coin, a Republican silver denarius, was quite rare.

She said: "I almost fell of my chair when I found out what date it was, it's in almost mint condition, which shows it was here much earlier than other Roman coins.

"Historically it's a wonderful find and I think Malcolm should be very proud.

L to R: Malcolm Langford, Henry Kelly and Anni Byard.

Malcolm Langford, Henry and Anni Byard.

"This coin is very important. It means that these Republican denarii were around in Britain before the Claudian invasion in AD 43 and possibly even before Caesar.

"At that time there was a lot of trade going on. It could have been a Celtic trader or a mercenary back from the wars."

"A find like this could update all of our history books."

The silver denarius depicts the helmeted head of Roma on the obverse and the galloping Dioscuri on the reverse.

The coin was struck in Rome during the Republican period, just two years before the Roman general Scipio defeated Hannibal near Carthage.

Republican silver denarii are often found in Britain, and although the coins began to be struck in Rome in 211 BC, this new coin appears to be the earliest denarius recorded from Britain, earlier than any of the 600 similar coins which have been recorded.

Malcolm said: "I was so excited I was like a dog with six tails, I didn’t know which one to wag first!"

last updated: 03/08/2009 at 12:28
created: 24/07/2009

Have Your Say

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Nektarios Barounis
Congratulations Malcolm! Wish you more and more findings. Imagine the degree of the history it carries! From its minting somewhere in Rome to that Celt's finger slipping! Priceless...(Nek - Greece)

ive got a cool coin that dates back to 1 million bc. and i found it digging in my back yard! :D :D

Tracey & Phil Edwards and the Ferals
Hey Anni,Great stuff. Congratulations from your family in Australia. Who said you shouldn't be playing in the dirt at your age?

Juan Moreno
Excellent! The article shows that archaeologists and responsible metal detectorists can work together amicably! Well done Malcom!

Peter Langford
Well done & congratulations on an amazing find. With love from your cousin.

'slipped from the fingers of a Celtic warrior in 207BC'Now that's what I call artistic license!

Arthur & Mandy mills
congratulations malcolm keep on looking your be even more excited on your next find good luck

Shirley Guglielmo
Congratulations on your find and a big thank you for sharing it with the world.

BRAVA! Excellent.

Pierre R.Monney
This coin may be the oldest Roman coin found in Great Britain, but, as these were also used much later, it does not necessarily mean that it reached Great Britain before the Roman conquest.

Eddie Langford
Well done Dad, I'm so proud of you. You derserved to find this coin. Congratulations to you with love from all your family.

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