6,000 Roman coppers in court order.

BBC News

One of the largest deposits of Roman coins ever recorded in Wales, has been declared treasure trove.

Nearly 6,000 copper alloy coins were found buried in two pots in a field at Sully, Vale of Glamorgan by a local metal detector enthusiast in April.

After the ruling by the Cardiff coroner, a reward is likely to be paid to the finder and landowner.

It is hoped the coins will be donated to National Museum Wales, which has called the find “exceptional”.

Two separate hoards were found by the metal detectorist on successive days, one involving 2,366 coins and the other 3,547 coins, 3m away.

The 1,700-year-old coins dated from the reigns of numerous emperors, notably Constantine I (the Great, AD 307-37), during whose time Christianity was first recognised as a state religion.

Edward Besly, the museum’s coin specialist called it an “exceptional find”.

He said: “The coins provide further evidence for local wealth at the time. They also reflect the complex imperial politics of the early fourth century.”

‘Time of danger’

It is thought the two hoards were buried by the same person, possibly two years apart. A similar find was uncovered in the area in 1899.

“There was quite a bit of Roman activity in the area at the time, southwards from Cardiff Castle, where there was a Roman fort, to the Knap at Barry where there was an administrative building and there were farms in the Sully area,” said Mr Besly.

“There’s a human story there somewhere but it’s intangible, we can’t really get to it but certainly somebody buried two pots of coins.”

“It could have been they were buried for safe keeping, possibly at a time of danger.”

It is hoped the coins will be given over to the museum for further study and to go on public display.

Also declared treasure by the coroner were two bronze axes from Llancarfan, Vale of Glamorgan.

Discovered in June 2008, they were buried together as a small hoard. The two complete bronze socketed axes have ribbed decoration and are examples of the south Wales type, dating to the late bronze age (1000-800 BC).

Newport Pagnell Roman coin find declared treasure

MK News (with pictures of the happy finders and a few coins.

Treasure hunters set to coin it with Roman haul


As the credit crunch hits pensioners across the country one pair have hit the jackpot by finding buried treasure.

The finders of a hoard of thousands of Roman coins agree with the words inscribed on them; ‘happy times are here again’.

The collection of bronze coins, which may be worth hundreds of thousands in sterling, were discovered in a field north of Newport Pagnell and have now been declared as treasure.

It was discovered by a pair of experienced metal detectorists on ploughed farmland on December 1, 2006.

An investigation into the find was concluded by the Milton Keynes Coroner yesterday.

The court heard that pensioners Dave Phillips, from Dunstable, and Barrie Plasom, from Aspley Guise, were searching together using metal detectors with permission from the land owner.

The pair, who have been detecting together for three years, were on opposite sides of a field when Mr Plasom ‘struck gold’.

Mr Phillips, who has been involved in nine previous significant finds, said: “Barrie found the first six stuck together and rang me on my mobile.

“Ten minutes later he called again and said he had 22 now.

“I said hang on and ran across the field.”

They continued to dig a hole three feet deep and found more than 1,400 bronze coins and pieces of pottery.

“It was about 5.30pm at this time of year so it was pitch black and we couldn’t see a thing,” added Mr Phillips.

“We laid on our bellies and kept pulling out coins.

“It is difficult to explain how you feel when you are finding coins left, right and centre.

“We are a couple of old men and we suddenly became like young men.

“For me it is just finding the history, that is what I love.”

The hoard has since been identified by the British Museum as dating from the 4th century AD.

Mr Phillips believes some could fetch up to £500 each and the collection may be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds in total.

The coins are inscribed with the heads of various Roman emperors and leaders and some with words translated as ‘Happy times are here again’, which date from around 348AD and was meant to reassure Roman citizenry of their safety against barbarian raids.

It is believed the hoard was deposited on a Roman rubbish pit.

The pair, who have both been metal detecting for 30 years, declared their find to Bedford Museum, though later realised the site was 250 yards inside the Buckinghamshire border.

An investigation by the coroner was called for as the Buckinghamshire County Museum, in Aylesbury, wants to acquire it.

Coroner Rodney Corner declared the hoard and its ceramic holder as treasure under the Treasure Act 1996.

The collection will now be valued by a committee of experts and the museum will then decide if it can afford to buy it.


A certain Jack Bray, writing about Halloween in the St Petersburg Times, tries to push all the right American buttons by giving credit to the Irish, the Romans and the Christian Church. Trouble is, I used to live in Ireland and I never saw evidence that the Romans ‘conquered most of the Irish lands.’ Unless he means that Britain is part of the Irish Empire. Now there’s a nice thought…

From Tampabay.com

Around A.D. 43, the celebrations got bigger when the Romans conquered most of the Irish lands. The Romans combined their feasts of Feralia (the passing of the dead) and Pomona (the goddess of fruit and trees) with the Celtic feast of Samhain. Pomona was symbolized by carrying fruit and wearing a crown of apples, which might explain “bobbing for apples” at Halloween.

Mary Beard is suspicious of HEAR

If you haven’t HEARd about it yet, as I hadn’t, HEAR stands for Higher Education Achievement Record.

Have a look at Mary Beard’s reaction, speaking from long experience. Her blog post is here.

I was interested in the first comment logged on The Guardian website that she links to. It begins:

A move away from the classification system is indeed to be welcomed. It is tired and anachronistic.

Many years ago, C.S. Lewis warned us to beware the person whose only criticism of something is that it is not modern.  Perhaps the Olympic Committee should look again at the tired and anachronistic system of awarding a gold medal to the sprinter who crosses the line first, and instead take into account all the times the athlete recorded while in training.

Places available for AS/A2 lecture day

I received this via the OCR community. There are a few places left for the lecture day (programme below). Cost £12.50. Lunch provided. Staff places free. Contact gburton(at)harrodian.com. Matteo Rossetti, Head of Classics, writes: ‘The Harrodian is easily accessible by a variety of means of transport. Lonsdale Road follows the south side of the Thames between Hammersmith and Barnes Bridge.

Harrodian AS/A2 Level Lecture Day

Schedule for Friday 14th November 2008

9.30 – 10.00 am                                          Welcome coffee and tea in the theatre
10.00 – 11.00 am                                        Ways of seeing in Aeneid 4, 10 and 12
                                                                  Professor M. Leigh of St. Anne’s College, Oxford
11.00 – 11.15 am                                     Coffee and tea in the theatre
11.15 – 12.15 am                                        Rule 1: Don’t eat your guests
                                                                 The politics of hospitality in the Odyssey
                                                                 Doctor R. Cowan of Balliol College, Oxford
12.15 – 1.15 pm                                        Lunch will be served in the theatre
1.15 – 2.15 pm                                           Teenagers in Greek tragedy
                                                                 Doctor R. Wyles of NUI Maynooth
2.15 – 2.30 pm                                           Coffee and tea in the theatre
2.30 – 3.30 pm                                           Face to face with the Roman emperor
                                                                 Doctor C. Vout of Christ College, Cambridge
3.30 pm                                                   End

Caroline Lawrence BM talk ‘A Day in the Life of a Roman Child.’

Salve, David! 

I’ll be doing a talk at the British
Museum called A Day in the Life of a Roman Child. It’s not till January
but it’s booking fast. Every child who books a ticket gets a free copy
of The Pirates of Pompeii.


Gratias maximas ago tibi!

Archimedes drives river generator on Dartmoor

The Archimedes Screw has been put into reverse, as it were. Instead of ‘energy in, water level rises’, it’s ‘water level falls, energy out.’
There’s a video.


An activity centre on Dartmoor is generating electricity using a device which dates back to ancient Greece.

The hydro-electric generator at the River Dart Country Park, near Ashburton, employs an Archimedes screw.

Water flows through the screw to turn it and the motion turns a turbine to produce electricity.

About 1.5 tonnes of water passes through the screw a second and the screw in turn allows fish and eels to pass through it safely.

Fish migration

The Environment Agency said the River Dart was an important salmon river, so the ability for fish to pass through the screw has been described by those involved in the project as an important aspect of its green credentials.

Mark Simpson, from the River Dart Country Park, said: “There are so many sites in the South West where small hydro-power schemes like this could be utilised.

“This screw has proved that it is a very environmentally-friendly with regards to fish and migrating salmon.”

The turbine will be able to produce an estimated £35,000-worth of electricity a year.

Archimedes was a Greek mathematician, philosopher and inventor who lived from about 287BC to 212BC.

He wrote important works on geometry, arithmetic and mechanics and is credited with inventing the hydraulic screw for raising water from a lower to higher level.

The country park generator uses a reversed screw, with water running along it from higher to lower ground.

What are your top eight Latin lyrics?

Coming across Mackail’s book of the hundred best lyrical poems in Latin – you can find the link on the new Page called ‘Books on Line’ – set me wondering what Desert Island Discs selection of Latin poems I’d make.

The Desert Island Discs format suggested asking for eight Top Poems. (Note to non-UK readers: D.I.D. is a very (very, very) long-running BBC radio programme on which eminent people are invited to choose the 8 pieces of music they would like if cast away on a D.I.)

My eight would have to include Catullus 101 (multas per gentes) and at least one other, a love poem, of his. The choice is terribly hard. Should it be ille mi par esse deo, or the one with the haunting last line, nox est perpetua una dormienda ? By the way, I’m aware that multas per gentes is in elegiac couplets, and so isn’t technically a lyric, but I’m going to have it anyway. And I shall probably sew odi et amo into the hem of my shirt and smuggle it onto the island. It’s so small that no one will notice.

From Horace, I suppose o fons Bandusiae will have to come with me – it brings back not only happy schooldays long ago, but also a happy visit to the villa – and maybe diffugere nives along with AE Housman’s translation. But then there’s donec gratus eram tibi, with its happy ending. Or exegi monumentum. What a torture!

And then? Should I take animula vagula blandula ?  If I do, then I have only 3 niches left for the whole of the rest of Latin-speaking civiisation.

Could I take the whole of dies irae, dies illa ? That would sober me up if I ever became too light-hearted on my island! As an alternative ultra-serious lyric, there’s solus ad victimam procedis – and I’d need the Helen Waddell version with it. There would have to be one of the mediaeval Spring songs, too – they are so immediate and joyful; probably we would feel more strongly about Spring today if we lived in a Mediterranean country with ultra-short Spring, and if we had lived, like the people of the Middle Ages, in draughty, dark, almost unheated houses all winter. So, Alcuin’s Cuculus ? No, I’ve just looked it up and my memory had failed me; Alcuin wrote in hexameters. So levis exsurgit Zephyrus ? Or salve, ver optatum ?

I think I shall choose as Number 8 Abelard’s o quanta qualia. It’s partly the hypnotic rhythm, partly Abelard’s scholarly skill with the possibilities of Latin, partly the fine tune that goes with the English version O what their joy and their glory must be. And as an old man I do look forward ….

Anyway, would you care to share your Eight Desert Island Latin Lyrics with the world? Or criticise mine? Please use the Comment button (labelled No Comments if you are the first!).

Note: links are to readings of the lyrics, on the ARLT Podcast channel.

Ancient History podcasts

Some teachers may enjoy the Ancient History podcasts on the campaigns of Caesar and on the age of the trireme.

I have also found audio pieces on the make-up of the Legion and the Greek phalanx and the Roman legion.

Where did the Romans land in AD43?

Osprey Publishing, a military history site, has had an article on this ever since 2000, but I’ve just read it for the first time and commend it to those teaching Roman Britain. Neil Grant, who seems to have done his homework, puts the case for and against Richborough and Fishbourne as chief invasion sites.