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Frome Hoard

The Frome Treasure is a hoard of 52,503 Roman coins found in April 2010 by metal searcher Dave Crisp near Frome in Somerset, England. The coins were stored in a ceramic pot 45 cm (18 inches) in diameter and date from 253 to 305 AD. Most of the coins are made of depreciated silver or bronze. The treasure is one of the largest ever found in Britain and is also important because it contains the largest group of coins ever found, issued during the reign of Carausius, who independently ruled Britain from 286 to 293 and was the first Roman emperor. The Somerset Museum in Taunton, using a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Foundation (NHMF), acquired the treasure in 2011 for £320,250.

The treasure was discovered on April 11, 2010, when Crisp was conducting a metal search in a field near Frome, where he had previously found Late Roman silver coins. The Late Roman coins, which eventually totaled 62, were probably the remains of a scattered hoard, 111 of which had been found on the same farm in 1867. While searching for additional coins from the scattered hoard, he got what he called a "funny signal," and after digging about 35 cm (14 inches) deep, he found a small shining coin and the top of a pot. Realizing it must be an intact hoard of coins, he stopped digging and backfilled the hole he had made. In 22 years of discovery, Crisp had never made such a significant find. 

The coins consist of 67 separate types and date from 253 to 305. The vast majority of the coins are made of bronze, but five are of pure silver.

Of the 52,503 coins found, 44,245 have been identified and the remainder are classified as "unintelligible" pending completion of cleaning and preservation. Of the identified coins, 14788, were minted under the central Roman Empire, 28377, were minted under the precipice of the Gallic Empire and 766 were minted under the Britannic Empire of Carausius, as shown in the table below. About 5% of the identified coins are from the period of Carausius, who ruled Britain from 286 to 293, and the hoard includes five silver denarii issued by Carausius, which at the time was the only type of silver coin minted anywhere in the Roman Empire.

It is traditionally thought that most hoards of Roman coins were buried by their owners for preservation with the intention of eventually being recovered, but Sam Moorhead of Portable Antiquities Scheme suggests that in this case the pot was so large and fragile that it could not easily be recovered without breaking it, and so the hoard may represent general offerings to the gods by vow.

Frome Hoard