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The Frome Hoard – The largest pot of Roman coins ever found in Britain

Sam Moorhead
Silver siliqua of Gratian (AD 367-83) found by Dave Crisp © Somerset County Council

Silver siliqua of Gratian (AD 367-83)  © Somerset County CouncilIn April 2010, Dave Crisp started to find some late Roman silver coins scattered across a field near Frome – these 62 coins represent a scattered hoard, probably from the same find as 111 similar coins found on the farm in 1867.

However, in pursuit of these coins he had an unusual signal.  He dug down 18 inches to find some pottery and coins; he realised that this was the top of a coin hoard so he stopped and filled the hole in.  This was incredibly responsible behaviour that cannot be praised enough.

Dave immediately contacted his Finds Liaison Officer in Wiltshire, Katie Hinds, who then contacted her opposite number in Somerset, Anna Booth.  Somerset County Heritage Service quickly organised for a local archaeologist, Alan Graham, to lead on the excavation of the hoard.  Between April 23rd and 25th, Alan, the FLOs, Dave Crisp and members of the landowner’s family excavated the hoard.  I first heard about the hoard during the excavation, when Katie Hinds informed me that the pot was about 25 inches in diameter – it was then that we realised that this hoard was comparable with the Cunetio hoard of 54,951 coins (found in Wiltshire in 1978).

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AD 410 The Year That Shook Rome

David Stuttard

David Stuttard

Our book, AD410 The Year That Shook Rome, will be published by the British Museum Press in March 2010.  It  celebrates (if that’s the right word) a hotly debated event, whose 1600th anniversary is being marked this year: the sack of Rome by Alaric and his Goths.

AD 410

In the week which sees the launch of the British Museum’s excellent series for BBC Radio 4, A History of the World in 100 Objects, it’s salutary to remember that objects and artefacts, while contributing so much to our knowledge of antiquity, call tell only part of the story.

If our book succeeds at all, it will be in good part down to the different backgrounds from which Sam and I approached the subject.  Sam’s background is principally that of an archaeologist and numismatist (at the British Museum), while I am a classicist with a fair experience of translating, adapting and staging ancient Greek drama.  Together, then, we bring to the story not only a rigorously scholarly approach, but – as importantly – an understanding of the human dimension.

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