The Shrewsbury Hoard

The ‘Shrewsbury Hoard’, 9315 Roman coins in a clay pot. © Portable Antiquities Scheme.

It has just been announced that the largest hoard of Roman coins ever found in Shropshire will be returned to the county, where it will take pride of place in a new Roman Gallery at the Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery. The so-called Shrewsbury Hoard, comprising 9,315 bronze Roman coins, were discovered near Shrewsbury in August 2009 by a novice metal detectorist.

Besides being the largest ever hoard of Roman coins found in Shropshire, the Shrewsbury Hoard is also one of the most intact Roman hoards yet found in Britain. Usually when hoards of coins are discovered, they have already been ripped apart as a result of ploughing or other destructive activities. When the detectorist discovered this particular pot it had remained undisturbed for the last 1700 years, and he did little to disturb the archaeological deposit around the pot and the coins inside it. As a result, specialists have been given a unique research opportunity and been able to study how this collection of coins accumulated through time.

Most of the coins date to a period between 313 and 335 AD, with some being as old as 260-293 AD. Also in the pot were fragments of cloth, the copper in the coins would have been responsible for creating conditions for its preservation. There was also a nail. Examining the dates of the coins in layers within the pot, we find that the later coins (333-335 AD) were only found towards the top, leading archaeologists to suggest that some coins at least were added after the hoard had been buried.

Thanks to financial assistance from various bodies, including the Headley Trust, the Victoria & Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, The Association for Roman Archaeology, the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society, and the Friends of Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, this locally and nationally significant hoard will be on display in the new Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, due to open towards the end of 2013.

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