Sunday, July 19, 2009

SPECTACULAR ROMAN COIN FIND IN BRITAIN

A West Berkshire metal detectorist, Malcolm Langford, has discovered a silver Roman coin that dates back to 207 BC, making it the earliest known Roman coin yet found in Britain. Mr Langford, who has been detecting for seven years, took the coin, along with a rare Iron Age silver coin of Eppillus, to Oxfordshire & West Berkshire Finds Liaison Officer Anni Byard for recording under the Portable Antiquities Scheme, a national voluntary identification and recording service administered by the British Museum.

The silver denarius depicts the helmeted head of Roma on the obverse and the galloping Dioscuri on the reverse. The coin was struck in Rome during the Republican period, just two years before the Roman general Scipio defeated Hannibal near Carthage. Republican silver denarii are often found in Britain, and although the coins began to be struck in Rome in 211 BC, this new coin appears to be the earliest denarius recorded from Britain, earlier than any of the 600 similar coins which have been recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Sam Moorhead, National Finds Adviser for Ancient Coins with the Portable Antiquities Scheme, was contacted by Miss Byard and confirmed the date of the coin. Mr Moorhead, who is conducting research into new records of Republican coins at the British Museum, says that this is one of the most exciting finds he has seen in the last three years. ‘What makes the coin even more interesting is that it is in almost mint condition. Most Republican denarii found in Britain are very worn as they could be in circulation for up to 300 years. This new coin suggests that some of these Republican coins were arriving in Britain before Claudius invaded with his legions in AD 43’.

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