Treasure hunter Dave's record haul of Roman coins
An ancient crock containing the largest Roman coin hoard ever found in Britain has been discovered in a Somerset field by an amateur metal detector enthusiast.
For more than 20 years Dave Crisp has been out and about with his metal detector seeking buried treasure.
But little did he know that in a remote field outside Frome his treasure-hunting would lead him to uncovering one of the most significant hoards of Roman coins ever found.
What will forever be known as "the Frome Hoard" of more than 50,000 coins had not been disturbed for 1,800 years.
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The third century coins, thought to be worth up to £250,000, were found in a large, well-preserved pot – a type of container normally used for storing food.
Dave, secretary of the Trowbridge Metal Detecting Club, said: "I have been metal detecting since 1988 and this hoard is the most exciting and important find that I have ever made."
Realising he had found something important, Dave left the hoard where it was and notified Somerset County Council's Portable Antiquities Scheme.
Archaeologists then set about the delicate task of excavating the pot and its contents.
The hoard was taken to the British Museum, so the coins could be cleaned and recorded.
"Leaving it in the ground for the archaeologists to excavate was a very hard decision to take, but as it had been there for 1,800 years, I thought a few days more would not hurt," Dave said.
"My family thought I was mad to walk away and leave it."
The precise site of the discovery has not been disclosed and the landowner has been named only as Geoff. He said: "I have always loved history but I never expected anything as important, exciting or old as this to be found on my land."
The bronze coins range from the mid to late third century and include some unusual finds, including coins of the British usurper Carausius.
Somerset County Council is keen for the remarkable find to ultimately stay in the county and possibly become a major attraction at the new Museum of Somerset.
Discussions are under way between Somerset County Council's Heritage Service and the British Museum towards that goal.
Tony Williams, coroner for Somerset, will hold an inquest on Thursday, July 22, to rule on whether it qualifies as a treasure trove.
One of the most important aspects of the hoard is that it contains a large group of coins of Carausius, who ruled Britain independently from AD 286 to AD 293 and was the first Roman emperor to strike coins in Britain.
A selection of coins from the hoard will be on display in Gallery 68 at the British Museum from Thursday, July 22, until mid-August.