Articles

The Seaton Down Hoard – 22,888 Roman coins

March 6, 2020


I used to do a lot of fishing; quite often see guys metal detecting on the beach, and was quite interested in what they had found. Did a bit of research, found out that you could actually find stuff in fields, which never really occurred to me, so I just started trying to get permission to go in some fields and started from there really. It’s got the same appeal, it’s the same with fishing, you never quite know what size fish is around the corner; it’s the same with the hobby of detecting, you never quite know what you’re going to find next – most of the time it’s rubbish and ring pulls, but every now and again you find something quite special. We’ve got thousands of years of history…the last 2,000 years, with…with metalwork of course. We, you know, we’ve had invaders, we had Vikings, we’ve had Saxons, Normans etc and each little piece of metalwork is part of this country’s history really and it’s, er, it’s just fascinating. It’s a field like any other big field, there’s a little bit of luck involved, you know with a metal detector you’ve actually got to walk over the object to find it. And I did a bit of research beforehand, just fancied the look of the field, it just seemed like it was the sort of place that people may have used for hundreds of years, and off I went. It’s rare in this country, but even rarer in Devon to find a…to find a Roman coin in Devon, it’s pretty unusual. And to find so many in such good condition. The British Museum described it as one of the biggest fourth century collections of coins found in the entire Roman Empire which is absolutely fantastic, especially for Devon. Could I, could I find something more important? I’m not sure I could really – I think it’s as good as it gets. For me the significance of this hoard is that it’s a brilliant object to tell stories with, and that, as I see it, is one of the main jobs of the curator. We take these objects that are stored in the museum, and then we try and research what stories they can tell, and then communicate those to as wide a public as we can. This hoard is, in a way, a dream for doing that – 22,888 coins – it’s by far the biggest to ever have been found in Devon, and it’s the third biggest in Britain. So, it is, you know, it’s a really significant archaeological find: it’s got the human story, a mystery of who buried it and why, and then it’s got big geopolitical stories, you know: what was going on in the Roman world; how big was the Roman world at that time? RAMM is in Exeter, Exeter is the, you know, the local big city for this part of the world, and that was the case in, in Roman times as well, so you know almost certainly the coins were in some way connected to Roman Exeter; they’re now connected to modern Exeter. I think it’s very lovely that we found something that important in this area here, and it’s also really great that we can keep it in the area, so we can show it to the people of East Devon, where it was found. It’s really interesting, because there’s a challenge of how do you conserve it? There’s a lot of coins fused together; you have to be quite careful moving it around because it is quite possible that some of the coins will, kind of, fall off the big clump and also it’s quite tricky cleaning it, because you’ve got a lot more undercuts and little corners that you need to get into. Keeping these clumps together is sometimes quite interesting because it either can indicate this was one bag of coins so they kind of are ‘one unit’ that was buried. For example the clump that I’ve been working on you can see quite nicely that some are little stacks that have just slided across. So, it might tell you something about how it was kind of buried, and in what kind of unit. On a personal level it’s really interesting getting the experience of doing these kind of public engagement workshops. We will clean those coins with the help of a lot of volunteers: A Level students, metal detectorists, members of the public, here in RAMM. So that’s going to be really interesting…it’s also kind of me getting out a little bit of my lab because normally I work behind the scenes and people rarely see me, so I’m looking forward to that.

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15 Comments

  • Reply Ray Piper March 29, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    we found? no….found by a detectorists….typical archaeologists claiming the prestige of detecting finds.

    .

  • Reply Actèon Nature January 4, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    Hello superb video congratulations for the sharing subscribes welcome to my chain Actéon nature France

  • Reply jay long February 22, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    Wanted to see the coins

  • Reply julle huu March 23, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    fake made in china actually

  • Reply bill smith April 1, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    i would boil that clump in water or bang it on the table to break them up.

  • Reply Alex Z April 1, 2019 at 9:59 pm

    What solution did she use on 5:10 ?

  • Reply Md.sazzzad Kabir April 3, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    I have old coin 1793. sales for

  • Reply Erik Scothron April 30, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    How many times does she say 'kind of''?

  • Reply just whenyouthought May 9, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    I'll have a little bet with you RAMMuseumExeter if you care to take the challenge ?

    I could clean/conserve one of those GLORIA EXERCITUS coins to a far better and less destructive standard than any of your conservators could.

  • Reply Dollar 1935 September 13, 2019 at 5:28 am

    6:01. I could understand if she handled a proof or a clean Ms coin… But why using gloves for cleaning an ancient coin !? If the coin never developped a strong patina to resist to his hostile environement it wouldn't be there today…

    The only way i see glove could be used is because she use a solvant like acetone and she don't want to have her skin dried by it…

  • Reply Jude Xavier September 17, 2019 at 4:58 am

    as a detector myself that guy at the beginning is either not very experienced, or just acting for the camera, based on the speed, angle, and area covered by his swings. most experienced, detectors go much slower and in much tighter grids. and it is the most important thing to have the coil parallel to the ground. Its also very wrong to rub coins with your finger like that, especially if they are old.

  • Reply Jose López September 21, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    Too much work for a bunch of cheap and common coins. Put them in water for a while and good part of dirt will disappear. And I think the gloves is for not touching the dirt…

  • Reply Disa Ez October 10, 2019 at 4:27 am

    👍🤗🤗🤗

  • Reply mick owen January 23, 2020 at 1:56 am

    I carry the same gear as u but I also take a kneeling mat

  • Reply ertuğrul koçak February 22, 2020 at 8:33 pm

    No

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