Three metal detectorist friends have discovered Roman treasure worth tens of thousands of pounds while spending the weekend camping in Wiltshire.
The party were staying in a field near the ancient village of Pewsey when they found the treasure just six paces from where they had pitched their tent.
Computer shop owner Robert Abbott from Essex turned on his metal detector after having lunch one morning and soon came across something.
While at first the 53-year-old found only discarded metal tent pegs, he dug a little deeper and hidden underneath was a valuable piece of silver Roman silique believed to be around 1 600 years.
His friends: herdsman Mick Rae, 63; and the carpenter, David Allen, 59, sprang into action and helped dig up dozens more pieces.
By the end of the weekend, they had found 161 coins, including siliqua and miliarense silver coins dating from AD 340 to 402.
With so many coins and nowhere to keep them, they resorted to storing them in their camping dish bowl since they had nothing else to store them.
Mr Abbott said: ‘After finishing breakfast first I turned on my machine – a Minelab Equinox 800 – and after walking six paces from the tent I found several tent pegs and, just below the surface, a late Roman silver silique in perfect condition. state.
“Moments later next door, I found another.
“Ironically, we had camped there two weeks prior for a week-long scouting outing. What we didn’t realize was that we had actually camped right above the area where the coins were found.
The coins are thought to have been buried during the last years of the Roman Empire by people seeking to protect their valuables from Saxon raids.
Discovered in September 2020, after the end of the first Covid-19 lockdown, the coins are now set to go under the hammer at Noonans auctioneers’ auction house in Mayfair, London on May 17.
The 142-piece Vale of Pewsey hoard is expected to sell for between £30,000-40,000.
Nigel Mills of Noonans said: “Virtually all of the pieces are in pristine condition and haven’t even needed cleaning since they were discovered.
“The hoard was buried at a time when Roman rule in Britain under Emperor Honorius was no longer viable, with the army being called back to protect other provinces.
“In 410 AD, Britain was ordered to protect herself by Honorius.
“As a result, Britain became a treasure island of Roman hoards of gold and silver coins and jewelery from the late 4th and early 5th centuries, as local people buried their objects valuable and then fell victim to the Saxon raids.”
The friends keep some of the pieces they find and the British Museum has studied the pieces and is adding two to their collection.
Other detector discoveries in recent years have included the Thetford and Hoxne hoards.