Essex

Hoard of Roman coins unearthed at Colchester dig

  • 20 May 2011
  • From the section Essex
One of the Roman coins found in Colchester
Image caption The collection is made up of coins issued under nine Roman Emperors

A collection of Roman coins has been unearthed by archaeologists excavating a former barracks in Colchester.

Two pots, one of them containing 1,247 coins, were discovered on the site of the former Hyderabad and Meeanee barracks, which are being redeveloped.

The coins, known as antoniniani, date back to between 251 and 271 AD.

Philip Crummy from the Colchester Archaeological Trust said the find would shed light on how people looked after their money in Roman times.

The coins have been sent to the British Museum for analysis and will then be donated by developer Taylor Wimpey, which owns the land, to Colchester Museum.

Mr Crummy said: "What you're looking at is how somebody managed their savings, taking some out and putting some back in probably over a number of years.

"It does look as if there's no difference in terms of the dates of the coins at the bottom than at the top.

"In other words, the coins were probably put in the pot as one lump all at once.

"There was an identical pot right next to the one that was filled with coins which was empty.

"I think what happened here was it had coins in it and had been emptied and put back in the ground again in readiness for more coins."

Significant find

The discovery is not the first example of buried coins to have been found in the Colchester area.

More than 6,000 similar coins were found in the Gosbecks area of the town in 1983 and another stash of 600 was discovered in East Mersea in 1980.

Mr Crummy explained the coins were originally buried at a time of public unrest and civil war.

Image caption The coins have been sent to the British Museum for analysis

He said: "Today we rather take banks for granted but in those days of course there were no banks, so they had a problem.

"If you kept it in your house it might get broken in to and stolen, so what many people did if they had lots of money was bury them in their garden or nearby field."

The coins are the latest significant finds to to be unearthed at the nine-hectare (22-acre) site.

In April, the bones of two Anglo-Saxon soldiers were found and in 2005 the site of a Roman chariot circus was found in the gardens of the former sergeants' mess.

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