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The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 5, January 31, 2010, Article 17

OLDEST ROMAN COIN EVER FOUND IN BRITAIN

Stories about this coin lit up the wires in Britain this week - evry newspaper it seemed had an article about it. It sat unnoticed on a museum shelf for years until a curator had a chance to take a closer look. -Editor

A 2,221-year-old silver coin dug up as part of a hoard is the oldest piece of Roman money ever found in Britain. Dating from 211 BC and found near the Leicestershire village of Hallaton, the coin was uncovered with 5,000 other coins, a helmet and a decorated bowl.

Unearthed in 2000 by a metal detectorist, staff at the nearby Harborough Museum have only just realised its significance.

Oldest Roman Coin Found in UK2

One side of the coin depicts the goddess Roma wearing her characteristic helmet while mythical twins Castor and Pollux sit astride galloping horses on the reverse.

David Sprason, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for communities and well-being said: 'Leicestershire boasts the largest number of Iron Age coins ever professionally excavated in Britain.

'To also have the oldest Roman coin ever found is something very special.' The type of coin, known as a denarius, was first struck in Rome in 211 BC, making the Hallaton coin a very early version, the council said.

A soldier or unskilled worker living in the first century AD could expect to earn one denarius for a day's work. The previous oldest known Roman coin found in Britain was discovered by a metal detectorist in Berkshire last year.

Professor David Mattingly of the University of Leicester's School of Archaeology and Ancient History described the news as 'exciting'.

He said: 'This hoard has changed our view of just how significant the East Midlands were in this period and this coin is a good example.' 'It indicates there was contact between this region and the Roman Empire despite the distance between the East Midlands and the parts of Britain the Romans arrived in, like Colchester and Chichester.'

The coin would have passed through many hands, he added.

'It was minted in Rome at the time of the Hannibalic wars and here it is turning up after what must have been quite a long journey,' he said.

To read the complete article, see: Silver coin dating to 211 BC is oldest piece of Roman money ever found in Britain (www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1247092/Silver-coin-dating-211BC-oldest-piece-Roman-money-Britain.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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