The silver denarius (plural: denarii) was one of the standards of Roman coinage during antiquity. These silver coins circulated around the empire for centuries, and are often one of the surest signs (as artifacts) of the presence of a marketplace during the time of Ancient Rome.
In the small southern English town of Bridport, a massive cache of silver denarii has been unearthed by an astute metal detectorist—with a little help from his friends.
The 2,000-year-old Roman silver coins were found by Mike Smale, an avid member of a local metal detectorist club in his hometown of Plymouth, England. The group was searching near a local Bridport farm when Smale made his discovery. The hoard contains as many as 600 of these historic silver coins, which have not yet been valuated by an expert.
So long as the county coroner’s office declares the coins treasure—which will undoubtedly be the case, given the coins’ age and precious metal content—Mr. Smale will split the proceeds from the sale or auction of the ancient coins with the landowner. Individual silver denarii from this period can go for as much as £900, according to the Plymouth Herald, and some have speculated that the entire collection of coins could be worth up to £200,000 ($268,000).
You’ll find fantastic pictures of the coins, the dig operation, as well as interesting background about the event, at the link above.
Smale told reporters that he “shan’t be giving it up,” speaking about the hobby of metal detecting, now that he’s struck it big. The breadth and variety of the denarii in the hoard contributes to its rarity, in addition to the fact that the coins date back as far as the first century BCE.
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