A hoard of 3,339 Roman coins discovered in Yeovil in March 2013 has been saved for Somerset and is now on public display. A special event is being held at Yeovil Library on Saturday 14 October with the hoard on permanent display at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton.
The hoard consists of 3,335 silver and four bronze coins of the second and third centuries AD. They were contained in a pot and buried in a small pit which lay on the edge of a previously unrecognised Romano-British settlement, probably dated about AD 269–271. The hoard was found and reported by Mark Copsey the driver of a bulldozer who was carrying out works at Yeovil Recreation Centre.
The coins show the portraits of 40 emperors and empresses. Among the most remarkable designs are a series of exotic animals including elephants, hippos and lions. These coins were produced in AD 248 to celebrate the one thousandth anniversary of the founding of Rome.
The South West Heritage Trust was able to acquire the hoard as the result of grant aid from the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, the Art Fund, The Headley Trust, and the Friends of the Museum of Somerset. South Somerset District Council very generously waived their right to half of the reward they were entitled to under the terms of the Treasure Act.
Stephen Minnitt, Head of Museums at the South West Heritage Trust, said “Somerset has gained a reputation for the exceptional number of Roman coin hoards discovered in the county. These include the well-known Shapwick and Frome hoards.
“We are delighted that, thanks to the support of our funders and the district council, we have also been able to secure the Yeovil Hoard for the county.”
Julia Brettell, National Programmes Manager, at the V&A said: “The Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund is delighted to be able to support the purchase of the Yeovil hoard; the application clearly demonstrated how the hoard adds to our knowledge of 3rd century Yeovil and the museum has excellent plans for showing the hoard both within the town and the wider county.”
Cllr Nick Weeks, South Somerset District Council Portfolio Holder for Heritage, said: “I am very pleased that a selection of these extraordinary coins will be on display in Yeovil Library for local people to see again – only a mile or so from where the hoard was discovered. I hope people will take the opportunity to come and see the coins and to bring along their own finds for these to be examined by the experts who will be available on 14 October.”
Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund Director, said: “Working in collaboration with The Museum of Somerset and their supporters, we’re really pleased to help make these remarkable Roman finds accessible to local communities and national visitors alike, bringing the region’s history to life for today’s public and for future generations.”
On Saturday 14 October between 10.00 am and 1.00 pm Steve Minnitt, Head of Museums at the South West Heritage Trust, will be at Yeovil Library with a display of some of the coins. At the same time a Finds Surgery will also be taking place at the library. Members of the public are invited to bring along their archaeological finds to get the opinion of experts from the Portable Antiquities Scheme. The event is one of a series taking place at the library for National Book Week.