Walkers Stumble upon Valuable Silver Coin Hoard

14/01/2016 11:16  |  Silver Coins

In November 2015, two friends out for a walk in a Welsh field made a remarkable discovery; they unwittingly found a hoard of silver coins dating all the way back to Roman times. The stash of 91 coins is thought to be worth tens of thousands of pounds and has officially been declared ‘treasure’. The oldest coins are from the year 31 BC; the era of renowned Roman general, Mark Anthony, famous for his love affair with Egypt’s legendary Pharaoh, Cleopatra.

The youngest of the coins feature a portrait of the renowned emperor, Marcus Aurelius, 161 – 180 AD, whose collection of stoic philosophic musings, Meditations, are still revered today. How this important discovery came to be left in a remote corner of a Welsh field is a mystery, especially since each of the 91 coins represented roughly a day’s wages for an average Roman soldier.  

This isn’t the only hoard of silver Roman coins to be discovered recently. In September 2015, a metal detectorist uncovered 26 coins dated between 154 BC and 37 AD in a farmer’s field near Norwich. Again, this collection represented a huge amount of money to an average Roman and one can only speculate as to why such a vast amount of money was abandoned.

The metal used for Roman coins was usually bronze or copper, with the use of silver reserved for larger cities and gold used for commemoratives to mark special events, games or people. Due to the technique used to make them, Roman coins did not have the uniformity of today’s modern coins. Each coin had subtle differences as they were hand-crafted using an early minting technique called hammering. Hammering involved heating the blank metal for the coin, placing it between two dies (hand-crafted templates bearing the images for the coin), and then striking the upper-most die with a hammer, creating an image on both sides. Incredibly, during the 2nd Century an estimated 17 million Roman coins were stuck in this manner each year. 

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