A trio of treasure hunters armed with a metal detector discovered a trove of silver Roman coins dating back nearly 2,000 years in northern England — and the find may be evidence of a large Roman outpost waiting to be unearthed.
The 18 coins, which appear to date to the 1st century reign of the emperor Vespasian, were found in 2015, but the thrilling discovery was kept under wraps so archaeologists could investigate the area, according to The Telegraph newspaper.
In the years since, workers at the Yorkshire site have uncovered several more silver coins, along with hundreds of pottery fragments, multiple child burial sites and a small brooch — and experts think they’re just scratching the surface, the report said.
“There are decorated bowls and amphorae [ancient jars], which would have transported olive oil and wine from the Mediterranean. Lots of really fine pottery,” the excavation’s head, Chris Casswell, told The Telegraph. “We have discovered evidence for … a high-status site.”
The dig has also yielded foundation trenches, post-holes and even the time-worn remnants of stone walls, indicating a more permanent settlement.
Though ample evidence of Roman settlement in England has been found dating to later in the empire’s span, “It is rare to find one of such an early date,” Casswell added.
What has become an archaeologist’s dream excavation started humbly — with three history buff pals scanning the field with a metal detector, according to The Telegraph.
“Straight away we knew it was a hoard,” recalled Paul King of the moment he, Robert Hamer, and Robin Siddle discovered the coins.
The trio reported the find to museum experts, who praised them for acting in the best interest of history, the paper said.
Officials will determine who gets to keep the artifacts.
Even if he doesn’t end up with the coins, King says the thrill is all in the hunt and connecting with the past today.
“You just want to know about things. How did people live? What did they do?” he told The Telegraph. “When you pick up that Roman coin out of the ground, after it’s been there for 2,000 years, it still puts tingles up my spine that the last person to touch that coin was a Roman.”