East Devon Metal detectorist, builder Laurence Egerton
in November 2013 looking at his hoik hole exposed
by an excavation (Exeter Express and Echo)
The Seaton hoard (PAS-D7EA4C)* was examined by archaeologists after having been reported by an artefact hunter searching for collectables on a site near to a known Roman villa [open trenches here: 50°42'45.21"N 3° 4'45.84"W] . (No other finds are in the PAS database from "Seaton" or "Honeyditches"; one find within a kilometre of findspot's postcode, within 2 km, 9 metal detector finds, not a lot of other reporting going on then?) The hoard consisting
"of approximately 22,000 copper-alloy coins" was found near the previously excavated site of a Roman villa at Honeyditches in East Devon in November 2013. Realising the significance of the discovery, and that much of it was in situ, the finder (Laurence Egerton, 51) immediately contacted the landowner (Clinton Devon Estates), as well as Danielle Wootton (Devon Finds Liaison Officer who is based at the University of Exeter) and Bill Horner (County Archaeologist). This prompt and responsible action ensured the coins were properly excavated and allowed for the later recording of the hoard and its context at the British Museum. Seaton Down is the largest hoard of coins of the 4th century AD from Britain to have been properly recorded through the PAS and was declared Treasure earlier this month.On the 12th September 2014 to be precise (see here for the relevance of that). So what is it doing in the PAS database? The Treasure Reports are the place for reporting Treasure. The PAS was set up to record finds made by members of the public, not excavated by professional archaeologists. How was this excavation and the processing of the material from it funded, and where will the final report (with its die link study of the contents no doubt) appear? From the archaeological examination (see the contrast with the weekend hoard hoiking of another group of artefact hunters at the other end of the country):
This is one of the largest hoards ever found within the whole Roman Empire. Now a fundraising activity has begun in order to acquire Bonkers Britian's archaeological heritage for the nation. (ummm ?)
It appears that the coins were buried together as a single group in a small isolated pit, the lozenge shaped form of the coin deposit suggests the coins were buried in a flexible container, perhaps a fabric or soft leather bag, though this has not survived. The combined weight of the coins is 68kg and they have been lightly cleaned at the British Museum prior to valuation under the Treasure Act 1996.The coins range from the late AD 260s to the AD 340s, a period of much turmoil in Roman Britain. 99% of the hoard are nummi, common coins struck between AD 330 and AD 341. The group terminates in AD 347-8 during the joint reign of Constantius II and his younger brother Constans, sons of Constantine I. Constans was the last legitimate emperor to visit Britain.
Laurence Egerton has been interviewed. (See: 'Video: Tens of thousands of Roman coins on their way to Exeter after being unearthed in East Devon',September 26, 2014) and here's a video of him, filling a be-prepared-big-plastic-tub by the handfull, "millions of them", he is heard saying to his wife, filming him on the first day. He said:
"Initially I found two small coins the size of a thumbnail sitting on top of the ground. I decided to dig the earth at that spot and immediately reached some iron ingots which were laid directly on top of the coins. The next shovel was full of coins - they just spilled out over the field. I had no idea how far down the coins went so I stopped immediately and phoned my wife to come to the site with a camera. Between finding the hoard and the archaeologists excavating the site I slept alongside it in my car for three nights!"You done Well" Mr Egerton. I hope the Kent FLO is paying attention. Bill Horner (County Archaeologist, Devon County Council) too in getting a team together in three days to deal with it.
* Ha, at the time of writing, record PAS-D7EA4C is still hidden.