Wold Newton hoard of Roman coins secured by Yorkshire Museum

By Richard Moss | 09 November 2016

The largest Roman hoard of its type ever discovered in the north of England is secured by Yorkshire Museum

a photo of a table full of silver coins
Coins from the Wold Newton Hoard© Image Anthony Chappel-Ross
The Wolton Newton Hoard dates to 307AD, a period of great uncertainty in the Roman Empire and Yorkshire. Whoever placed it in the field in Yorkshire over two millennia ago did so with great purpose and intent.

At the time of burial the hoard of 1,858 Roman copper coins depicting a number of Roman Emperors - including Constantius and his son Constantine, Augustus after he was made emperor in York - was worth the equivalent of a legionary's annual salary, three year’s salary for a carpenter or six years for a farm labourer. It could buy 700 chickens, 2,000 of the finest fish or 11,000 pints of beer.

Known as nummi, the coins are around 3cm in size and represent the typical currency of the fourth century.

The largest Roman hoard of its type ever discovered in the north of England, the stash of coins was found in 2014 inside a roman urn by metal detectorist David Blakey who filmed its discovery and immediately reported it to the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Rather than emptying it out, he also left the coins in the urn, which allowed archaeologists the rare opportunity to excavate it in different layers to see how coins were added to the vessel.

Now, thanks to a £40,000 fundraising campaign by the Yorkshire Museum, the precious hoard will stay in public collections in Yorkshire.

a photo of a finger and thumb holding up a silver coin
A coin from the Wold Newton Hoard© Image Anthony Chappel-Ross
a photo of a hoard of coins positioned as if spilling out of a pot
Part of the Wold Newton Hoard© Anthony Chappel-Ross
Hundreds of people from around the world donated to the appeal, which launched on July 25 2016.

£10,000 also came from the Arts Council/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and a donation of £9,981 from the American Friends of the Art Fund.
Thanking “every single person” who gave to the appeal, Andrew Woods, curator of numismatics at the Yorkshire Museum said the hoard is "a once in a lifetime find and was buried at a turbulent point in Yorkshire’s history".

“We hope we will now be able to carry out research on the hoard which may reveal more about what was happening in the county at that time and why it was buried where it was.”

Insect remains attached to some of the coins have already offered another way of analysing the contents, which means there is huge potential for getting a greater understanding of The hoard the period and why it was buried.

A large portion of the hoard, as well as the ceramic vessel it was found in, will remain on public display at the Yorkshire Museum until January 11 2017. It will then be taken for conservation, with the full hoard being revealed at next summer’s Eboracum Roman Festival on June 1-4 2017.

a photo of a bloke holding up a coin with others placed across the table
Fnder David Blakey with the coins© Anthony Chappel-Ross
As well as being the largest hoard found from the period in the north of England it is the second largest ever found in the country; the largest, the Fyfield Hoard, was found in 1944 and is now at the Ashmoleon in Oxford.

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