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Man Finds Roman Gold Coin Hoard Worth £100,000 With Metal Detector 249

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'm-the-inspector-over-the-mine dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A novice metal detector has found one of the largest roman gold coin hoards ever unearthed in the UK. From the article: 'National newspapers reported on Wednesday that the man, from Berkhamsted, had been sold a beginner’s metal detector from the town’s High Street-based Hidden History for £135. He is reported to have gone back with 40 of the “solidi” coins, dating to the last days of Roman rule in Britain, and asked: “What do I do with this?”'"
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Man Finds Roman Gold Coin Hoard Worth £100,000 With Metal Detector

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 18, 2012 @05:03AM (#41690537)

    What else are you supposed to do with money? Of course, they may not be selling spears, shields and trebuches any longer.....

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      Learn Latin and Anglo Saxon. Find a time machine. Become extremely wealthy.

      The second part may be a little tricky but look for a strangely dressed eccentric and you might have some joy.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 18, 2012 @06:39AM (#41690849)

        Learn Latin and Anglo Saxon. Find a time machine. Become extremely wealthy.

        Don't forget to burry your treasures when you die in the past in order to close the loop.

      • Learn Latin and Anglo Saxon. Find a time machine. Become extremely wealthy. The second part may be a little tricky but look for a strangely dressed eccentric and you might have some joy.

        Filthy rich or rather filthy and rich in that order...
        Do anyone think it's worth it?

        • by 91degrees (207121)
          Well, this would be Roman era, so it's one of the cleaner civilisations of history. You'd have access to useful things such as baths, and not be seen as odd for washing regularly
          • by rednip (186217)
            Considering that soap hadn't been invented yet, ancient Rome wasn't as 'fresh smelling' as you'd seem to expect.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by 91degrees (207121)
              They did have an alternative though. They used oil. Oil binds to grease and dirt. It doesn't wash off like soap does because it doesn't bind with water but it can be scraped off with a strigil. No idea how effective this actually would be. Would be interesting to put this to the test.
    • by StoneyMahoney (1488261) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @06:44AM (#41690871)

      Money not going as far as it did? Pay not stretching to the end of the month? Well why not send your Roman treasure to http://www.cashforyourgold.co.uk/ [cashforyourgold.co.uk] for a free valuation! Just pop all your treasure in the freepost envelope with our address written plainly on the outside so any light-fingered postman can pinch it and drop it in the bin*ahem*post box! It couldn't be simpler! Even if*ahem*when your gold arrives at our foundry, we'll only quote you 10% of it's scrap value, so don't forget to argue on the phone and we'll double it instantly! We'll still bel ripping you off, but hey, we've got a great advert with lots of exclamation marks in it!!!

    • by whoda (569082)

      They are antiquities, so he will have to give them up.
      He will get a percentage of their value, not close to the real value.

    • Confiscate them! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sycodon (149926)

      I seem to recall, from reading about other similar situations, that the British government considers all finds of this nature to be the property of the government. Kind of like how in the U.S. the Feds now consider anything that falls from the sky and lands on Federal land to be federal property.

      For some reason the Feds were pissed meteorite collectors were making money off of rocks from the sky and they weren't.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I seem to recall, from reading about other similar situations, that the British government considers all finds of this nature to be the property of the government. Kind of like how in the U.S. the Feds now consider anything that falls from the sky and lands on Federal land to be federal property.

        The difference is that Federal property is public property -- the government owns that property, so of course if something falls there, they own it. But if that meteorite falls in your back yard, YOU own it. If it f

  • Illegal in Ireland (Score:5, Informative)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @05:16AM (#41690587)

    Using metal detectors without prior permission and a degree in archaeology is illegal here in Ireland, punishable by stiff fines and prison, as is wandering around the countryside with archaeological tools. Well technically the latter isn't illegal as such, but you'd better have a good reason for carrying them. Its understandable really given the quality and rarity of some of the treasures that have already been turned up I suppose, the government doesn't want looters making off with priceless artifacts to adorn their mantelpiece.

    • by Kokuyo (549451) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @05:30AM (#41690629) Journal

      So basically, not finding items of historical value is better than finding them and destroying a bit of historically valuable surroundings?

      Isn't the worth of historically relevant findings in the knowledge they provide rather than their existence? If that was the case, any dude coming up with this without totally destroying everything around the coins provides a net gain to our understanding of history. I can't help but think that would be better than never finding anything at all (which is very probable).

      Also, NOW they know where to go look for another archaeological site, right?

      • by petsounds (593538) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @05:47AM (#41690697)

        So basically, not finding items of historical value is better than finding them and destroying a bit of historically valuable surroundings?

        Yes. They will still be there for a proper archaeologist to discover at some future time. Given how many artifacts were damaged or ruined by bungling explorers in the 1800's and early 1900's, I'd say it is prudent to leave the task to experts.

        • by realxmp (518717) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @06:41AM (#41690859)

          So basically, not finding items of historical value is better than finding them and destroying a bit of historically valuable surroundings?

          Yes. They will still be there for a proper archaeologist to discover at some future time. Given how many artifacts were damaged or ruined by bungling explorers in the 1800's and early 1900's, I'd say it is prudent to leave the task to experts.

          Amusingly many of those bungling explorers were the "experts" of the time. Also in order for archeologists to know there's anything worth digging up, someone has to make a chance discovery. Proper archeology takes a lot of time and resources, and thus sites are only excavated if there's reason to suspect there's something to look for in the first place.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Screw that. This 'it's history so you loose everything becasue of it' attitude is bullshit.

          I'll let you in on a secret: Nothing we learn about the Romans will change a damn thing today. It's not really that important. We won't discover a new power source, we won't discover anything that changes out course in history, and we won't even learn everything new about the Romans beyond a piece of trivia.

      • by the_other_chewey (1119125) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @05:54AM (#41690717)

        So basically, not finding items of historical value is better than finding them and destroying a bit of historically valuable surroundings?

        Yes, in most cases.

        Isn't the worth of historically relevant findings in the knowledge they provide rather than their existence?

        No, because in archaeology, the context of a find is everything. Of course, valuable and beautiful objects make for
        great exhibitions, but context is really the main part of what is interesting. You'll see an archaologist become much
        more excited over an unusual and unexpected piece of wood than over "another roman gold coin. meh."

        We have tens of thousands of roman gold coins already, and I doubt any of the coins this guy found are of
        an unkown kind.

        However, an amateur will not know to care for some fibres around the gold coins that may have been a
        uniquely crafted bag, thereby proving trade contacts with $faraway_place. Of will discard a couple of shovels
        full of dirt with bone fragments or plant seeds in them which would make this a unique and invaluable find.

        If you find something, don't touch it and report it, but don't dig around yourself - you'll do way more
        harm than good, and may even commit a crime.

        • What I wonder about with all of these restrictions how many finds are simply ignored or destroyed because people don't want to lose the use of their land? Farmer X plows up a roman era treasure and is faced with the prospect of having his whole farm disrupted for who knows how long, perhaps permanently. You have to think that perhaps he isn't so thrilled with this. Makes you wonder just how many farmer X's go get a sledge hammer smash whatever it is up and put it out in with the trash. I guess it would depe
          • Where it's clearly accidental I don't think there have ever been any prosecutions, turf cutters occasionally haul up bog mummies (although I'd say they've probably dismembered many more unknowingly). There was a story in the news a while back about a woman who pulled a bronze age brooch out of her fireplace after burning through a turf fire. http://celticmythpodshow.com/blog/turf-fire-reveals-celtic-treasure/ [celticmythpodshow.com]

            What many people don't get about Ireland is its pretty much wall to wall historical sites, layered o

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Here in China they know where the Tomb of Qin Shi Huang is located, but they won't be actually excavating the site until such a time as they can figure out how to do so without destroying everything in there. Assuming that it's properly preserved.

        It's the responsible thing to do. Once something is damaged or destroyed, that's it. You can sometimes repair it, but it's never the same as if it weren't damaged or destroyed in the first place.

        As much as I'd love to see the tomb opened, it's more important that i

        • If you talk to archeologists, you'll hear that this is a very common occurrence. Technology is always improving, and over time it becomes easier to non-destructively examine a site. This makes it very difficult to decide when it's the correct time to start a dig. If you wait a few years, you'll probably get more information out, but if you wait forever then you won't get any. It's quite common to excavate a small part of a site and leave the rest for future archeologists.
    • Using metal detectors without ... a degree in archaeology is illegal here in Ireland

      Seriously? I can sort of understand the rest of it, but there are other uses for metal detectors besides digging up treasure. Or did you just mean to imply "Using metal detectors to find loot"?

      • I think you can go beachcombing on some beaches, but there's an exclusion zone around areas of interest, which in Ireland where you trip over someone's cairn every half mile basically means the whole island.

        As I understand it you require an individual Detection Device License to be issued for each and every time you plan to go metal detecting with the intention of finding any kind of historical object - and the law assumes that that is what you are doing whenever you are using a metal detector. Archaeologis

      • He wasn't quite accurate.

        It is illegal to dig for archeological objects and to use metal detectors for such a purpose without a special licence.

        You can use a metal detector to find bottle caps in your lawn or to locate pipes.

        but too many amature treasure hunters have fucked up sites.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      We don't have such silly laws! So, it will be a big help when I'm using a metal detector to find those ancient Roman and Gaylick treasures - especially in the South East US! And I'll have the means too. See, I took ALL engineering and math classes in college - none of that nonsense liberal arts stuff like history and art! Nope!

    • the government doesn't want looters making off with priceless artifacts.

      And that's the REAL reason Guinness was invented; to prevent unauthorized archaeological activity.Otherwise, the Irish would have categorized the the entire subterranean contents of the Emerald Isle by now...

  • "Are you the man who found the coins? Do you know who he is? Contact reporter David O’Neill on 01442 898451."

    Duh! - one might have expected the journo to get the name, or even an interview!

  • not the largest find (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rapiddescent (572442) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @05:21AM (#41690605)

    TFA is way out. The was a more valuable Roman find of Roman Torcs [wikipedia.org] 3 miles to the west of Stirling in Scotland which netted around £4m which he had a share of £500k [thesun.co.uk]

    What's interesting is that the Romans didn't last long in Scotland but there are still visible signs of our italian pals from 2000 years ago, such as the Fendoch fort in the Sma Glen [scran.ac.uk] north of Crieff and the fort at Braco some 5 miles south of Crieff.

    We found some tunic broaches with a metal detector in my parents field a few miles away. Still looking for the pot of Roman gold. There are legends that Fendoch had a large stash of gold but there just legends and no one has ever found them plus metal detecting is illegal on recognised Roman forts which is a bit of a set back!

  • by Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @05:24AM (#41690607)
    Man unearths 2000 year old bit-coin with metal-detector

    An anonymous reader writes
    "A novice metal detector has found one of the largest bit coin servers ever unearthed in the UK. From the article: 'National newspapers reported on Wednesday that the man, from Berkhamsted, had been sold a beginner’s metal detector from the town’s High Street-based Hidden History for £135. He is reported to have gone back with 40 of the bit coins, dating to the last days of 'Cameron' rule in Britain, and asked: “What do I do with this?”'"

    Read all comments.
    • Not only is that bad Data Protection policy (Not wiping a drive before disposal? The lunatic!) but I bet it wasn't disposed of in compliance with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive).

      Some people just want to watch the world burn.
  • by psholty2 (2696677) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @05:40AM (#41690657)
    Man Finds Roman Gold Coin Hoard Worth £100,000 With Metal Detector, Plans To Exchange Them For BitCoins - Slashdot
  • Sure he "found" them (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Quick Reply (688867)

    It sounds like he came across a fortune through illegal means, bought a beginner metal detector someplace (really who spends 135 quid on a beginner item, he must have been certain he would find something worth at least that value) and then played dumb when he says that he "found" it.

    He reports it in, nobody will claim, and he will get to keep it legally. Easy way to "legalise" something you shouldn't have. Works for bags of money some people "dig up" in their backyard too (which is really their drug money t

    • by Xest (935314)

      "He reports it in, nobody will claim, and he will get to keep it legally."

      AFAIK that's not how it works in the UK, I believe it defaults to museum or council ownership or something unless they explicitly state they don't want it.

  • I smell a rat (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GoodnaGuy (1861652) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @06:03AM (#41690753)
    am I the only one smells a rat here? Gold roman coins are worth a lot more than gold alone, therefore a tidy profit is to be made by printing you are own fake roman coins and then claiming to have dug them up.
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Mostly because roman gold coins were almost as thin as paper. There is no real weight in Gold in a Roman coin.

    • by sFurbo (1361249)
      It is quite hard to plausibly fake archaeological gold artifacts. We are much better at making gold today, so there is less silver in modern gold, which is pretty easy detect.
      • by ultranova (717540)

        It is quite hard to plausibly fake archaeological gold artifacts. We are much better at making gold today, so there is less silver in modern gold, which is pretty easy detect.

        Because silver can't be bought and mixed in.

  • by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @06:12AM (#41690781)
    Run buy a bunch of those metal detector makers shares, quick!
  • by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Thursday October 18, 2012 @06:53AM (#41690905) Homepage Journal

    The sad thing is that by digging it up he's destroyed the archaeological context which might have shown why it was buried, when, and, to some extent, who by. The end of the Roman period in Britain is a very interesting period of history, but one about which we have far too little information. Yes, it's great that these things get found, but when you've found something, for heaven's sake leave it in the ground and alert the county archaeologists (or, technically, the coroner who will in turn alert the archaeologists, but...). You'll still get the 'treasure trove' value as the finder, and the context will get recorded.

  • ...had been sold a beginners metal detector from the towns High Street-based Hidden History for £135.

    That reads like he had no choice in the transaction. I half-expected the sentence to end with 'at gunpoint'.

  • Judas, that you?

  • Not £100,000 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Danious (202113) on Thursday October 18, 2012 @08:10AM (#41691201) Homepage

    I seriously doubt it's worth £100,000, these stories always go over the top on the value quoting the price for mint coins in perfect condition in the existing market trading volumes. There was a recent very large hoard valued in the press at tens of millions of pounds, but the coins were so degraded they were worth only a fraction of their individual mint value, and there were so many coins in the hoard it would have depressed the market value if they had been sold.

    The real worry here is the guy apparently didn't know what to do once he had found the coins, there are legal requirements to be met, and archaeological best practice to be followed. No-one should be sold a detector without first having to take a one-hour training course in their legal and moral obligations. That said, I work with responsible detectorists all the time, many are very good, but there are also many like this guy who do terrible damage.

  • So, how long until metal detector sales increase?

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