A stash of ancient Roman coins buried throughout eastern England’s farmland has raised questions about the coins’ history.
In Norfolk, a rural county on the eastern coast of England, at least 11 ancient gold coins linked to Rome have been found by metal detectorists, a collective find known in the area as the “Broads Hoard,” because of local rivers and lakes.
“The coins were found scattered around in the plow soil, which has been churned up year after year, causing the soil to be turned over constantly and led to them eventually coming to the surface,” Adrian Marsden, a numismatist (coin expert), told Live Science.
Experts question how the coins ended up where they did because they were made before the Romans invaded and conquered Britain from roughly 43-84 A.D. Early theories suggest that the coins could have been part of a religious sacrifice or a trade deal of some kind.
“It’s apparent that [the coins] went into the ground before the invasion,” Marsden said. “It’s possible that they could’ve been part of some type of offering to the gods, but more likely someone buried them with the intention of recovering them later.”
“Gold was often used as trade, so it’s possible that a local tribe could’ve gotten ahold of the coins and perhaps planned to use them for other things, such as melting them down to make jewelry,” he added.
Back in 2017, the first coins were discovered by locals Damon and Denise Pye who were going through fields after they were plowed up by farmers after harvesting their crop. Marsden said that he expects more coins to be discovered as people continue to go through the fields hoping to be the next person to find a piece of ancient history.
In an article for The Searcher, Marsden detailed the specifics of the coins, several of which bear the image of the grandsons of Caesar Augustus. Augustus was the first emperor of Rome and largely responsible for turning Rome into an empire.
“In the second half of Augustus’ reign, when his position was consolidated, the types [of coins] with dynastic reference increased as an indication of his succession, as is the case here with the extensive coinage for his grandsons, Gaius and Lucius Caesar,” Marjanko Pilekić, a coin expert told LiveScience.
The coins found to date, worth about $25,000 collectively, have been placed in an exhibit in the British Museum. Other artifacts, like Roman copper coins and brooches, have also been found in the region.