An amateur fisherman snared himself an unusual catch – a haul of Roman and Iron Age coins, hailed by the British Museum as a ‘very excting discovery’.
Jason Hemmings usually spends his time plucking sea bass from the ocean. But, having recently bought a metal detector and taken up treasure hunting as a hobby, he struck gold in a field in Owermoigne, Dorset, finding 15 bronze and silver coins that may have been lying there for 2,000 years.
Mr Hemmings, 41, began his hobby when he purchased the detector for £300 from a friend who wanted to upgrade his own.
After scouring the field, he unearthed the first coin and, initially, that seemed to be it. ‘I had a quick search and couldn’t find anything else,’ he said.
‘I had to go home for Sunday roast. But I went back the next day, and that’s when I came across more.’
The machine was giving off such faint, intermittent signals that his friend did not think it was worth the effort of digging, but he persevered,. and the rest is history.
He followed the required procedure in reporting the discovery under the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which encourages the voluntary recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales.
Eleanor Ghey, a British Museum expert, said the moeny is likely to have been dropped by a soldier at the time Romans first came to the country.
‘These coins are likely to be close in date to the conquest of Britain in AD 43. They almost pinpoint the time when the Romans were first in Britain. It’s one of the earliest things we have. This is a very exciting discovery.’
The coins – three different currencies all circulating in Britain in the middle of the first century AD – include large bronze coins of the Roman emperor Claudius issued between AD 41 and 50.