It has been over a year since an ancient hoard of Roman coins—for purposes of this article referred to as the “Barlaston Hoard”— was unearthed in a Staffordshire village. Discovering the hoard was metal detectorist Stephen Squire, who has since awaited receiving word on the significance of his find. Finally on Tuesday, the coroner’s office declared the hoard treasure.
Squire was alone when, having thoroughly tested his patience and faith in a Barlaston field, his metal detector went off. He immediately got his wife and son on the phone, told them to join him outside. By the tone of his voice, they could infer that something remarkable had happened. When they arrived outside they found instead that Squire had happened upon something remarkable.
Buried in ceramic vessels one meter below the surface were over 2,000 ancient Roman coins dating back to 37AD. Objects of a later date include an iron tool, a lead crucible and an item of struck of a copper alloy.
Under the Treasure Act of 1996, anyone who discovers an object that might legally qualify as treasure must report their find to a local coroner within two weeks. Squire wasted no time getting into contact with finds liaison officers.
Councillor Terry Follows, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for the greener city, development and leisure division, commended Squire on “treating the discovery so responsibly and reporting it correctly.”
Teresa Gilmore of the Finds Liaison office suggested that the hoard might have been the life savings of a farmer, buried with hopes that the coins would appease the gods. So how much would that farmer’s life savings be worth today? That is still to be ascertained by the Portable Antiquities Scheme's Treasure Valuation Committee, after which compensation will be divided equally between Squire and the landowner.
“We don't get many finds like this in the Staffordshire area," said Gilmore. Staffordshire is a county in the western Midlands of England. The last big find occurred in Lichfield in 2009. Over 3.3 million dollars in gold and silver pieces of Anglo-Saxon armory were found.
Both the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Hanley and the British Museum have expressed interest in exhibiting the Barlaston hoard. If adopted by the former, it will join the Staffordshire Hoard on display. It is Gilmore’s hope that Squire will help the Potteries Museum by waiving some of his fees.
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