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Devizes Museum displays Roman coin hoard

A hoard of Roman coins discovered at Alton Barnes in 2005 is going on permanent display at Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes.

The coins were discovered by Wootton Bassett metal detectorist Clive May on August 29, 2005 and the following year were declared treasure by the then Wiltshire coroner, David Masters.

The collection will go on display on Saturday to mark the 2009 Festival of British Archaeology.

The new display will consist of some of the 3,854 silver and bronze Roman coins discovered in the hoard, including two rare coins of the emperor Tetricus I (AD 271-4) and the original upright greyware jar in which they were buried.

The jar, which when excavated was in 70 pieces, has been reconstructed by staff at the Wiltshire Council’s conservation laboratory in Chippenham.

It is thought the treasure was buried for safekeeping around the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire when people would have been fearful of their security.

In addition to the rare coins of the emperor Tetricus 1 – one a completely new type, and the other only previously known for gold coins – are examples of very short lived Roman emperors, such as Florian (AD 276) and even shorter lived usurpers such as Laelian (AD 269) and Marius (AD 269).

The coins, which are in particularly good condition, were reported through the Portable Antiquities Scheme and declared as treasure by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

The Wiltshire Heritage Museum was able to purchase the hoard with assistance from the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Headley Trust and other donations, including from customers at the New Inn, Coate.

The Roman coins found by Clive May in Alton Barnes will be on show at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes

The landowner and tenant generously waived their entitlement to a share of the reward, so reducing the purchase price.

Assistant curator Heather Ault said: “This Roman coin hoard is particularly worthy of display and strengthens the museum’s Roman coin collection and material in the Roman gallery enormously.

“The hoard has been catalogued and can be accessed via the museum’s website –”

The museum is open 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and noon to 4pm on Sundays.