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Treasure trove of silver Roman coins worth thousands found buried in field

One of the largest hoards of Roman coins ever discovered in Britain has been officially declared ‘treasure’ today.

Amateur metal detecting enthusiast Keith Bennett discovered a total of 1,141 Roman denarii, or silver coins, in a field last July.

The coins, stashed in a clay urn and buried around four feet underground, date from between 206 BC and 195 BC.

Big find: A total of 1,141 Roman denarii were found by amateur metal detector enthusiast Keith Bennett in a Warwickshire field. They are expected to be worth tens of thousands of pounds

The find was officially declared treasure today at an inquest in Leamington Spa.

Warwickshire coroner Sean McGovern said: ‘In this case it is a significant find of Roman coins which are indeed treasure.

‘The coins will be valued by the British Museum and they will be worth a reasonably significant sum.’

Mr Bennett, 42, who works at the central library in Leamington Spa, found the hoard in farmer Peter Turner’s field in Stratford-upon-Avon on July 13 last year.

Landowner Peter Turner, 74, said: ‘Keith had been metal detecting and suddenly stopped because he saw a large number of objects flash up on his screen.

‘After digging down around four feet he saw the top of a large pot had been smashed and hundreds of silver coins were inside.’

Sara Wear, keeper of archaeology at Warwickshire Museum, told the inquest: ‘The top of the pot was damaged after a plough had gone over the top of it.

‘A large number of coins were scattered around the pot but the majority were inside. The coins had probably been put in the ground for safe keeping before banks were around.’

Many of the coins had the head of Emperor Augustus stamped on them and the hoard would have been five times the average Roman soldier’s yearly salary

The quantity of coins would have been worth more than five times a typical Roman soldier’s yearly salary of 225 silver coins and may have belonged to a rich landowner.

Hundreds of the coins were stamped with the head of Emperor Augustus, while other date back to around 63 AD.

Miss Wear added: ‘It is difficult to know exactly who the coins belonged to and how the collection was built up over time.’

The total value of the coins is expected to run into the tens of thousands of pounds.

The exact location of the find was not revealed during the inquest, for fear of looters raiding the site for more lucrative treasure.

Roman currency consisted of coins including the aureus (gold), denarius (silver), sestertius (bronze), dupondius (bronze, and the as (copper).

They were used from the third century BC until the middle of the third century AD.