The Poole hoard was discovered on the 18th of April 2016 in the parish of Poole, Cheshire East. After reporting the discovery to me at the Museum of Liverpool (MOL) myself and MOL archaeologist Dr Mark Adams went out to investigate the site. The hoard had been discovered in plough soil and many of the coins were ploughed out but three large clods remained. The finders carefully wrapped the coin filled clods of soil. Concerned that there was organic material, such as a box or bag, the clods were kept cool and damp on the advice of the British Museum’s conservators. As conservation grade equipment was not to hand some ice buckets and dampened jay-cloths did the trick nicely!
The coins are all nummi dating to the 4th century AD. The clods of soil and excavated loose coins were sent down to the British Museum where they are currently being cleaned by Pippa Pearce and her team. First x-rays were taken of the clods to find out what we were dealing with and the best way to proceed. The x-rays of one clod revealed a coin scatter and 2 aggregated groups of coins, one of which is like a coin cone. The larger block which had been wrapped and lifted revealed a massive haggis-shape of coins along one side. This reminded Pippa of the Beau Street hoard which contained haggis-shaped coin bags. So we are keeping our fingers crossed that once fully excavated a coin bag will be revealed, a very special find for Cheshire. The x-ray of a third smaller clod was blank however the clod will still be excavated to make sure nothing is missed. It will be exciting to see what these three mini-indoor excavations will reveal.
The conservator working on the large block, Alex Baldwin, believes that the block has been turned on its side and what she has is about two-thirds of a segment of a shallow saucer shape of coins, much as if they had been put into a shallow depression in the ground. There are pebbles right up against the coins on what would then be the base of the hoard and the lower area is more crusted while the top is more ‘free flowing’. The coins are all horizontal, when viewed that way up, as if they have been levelled out. No finds of leather textile or wood have been discovered.
The coins have not yet been studied in detail and we do not yet know how many there will be. Currently there are 2013 but more may follow with the excavation of the clods. Some of the rulers represented so far are Constantine I, Constantine II, Licinius, and Crispus.
The corrosive Cheshire soils have however done their work in places and therefore chemicals are not being used on this hoard. The conservation team are doing wet manual cleaning to remove as much soil as possible, then drying the coins out and doing more manual cleaning when they have hardened up a bit, consolidating the more powdery areas.
As this exciting and important hoard makes its way through the Treasure Act process and onto the PAS database it will allow us to discover more about Cheshire’s Roman past.