ESS-F89194: Roman coin hoard found in a pottery vessel during an archaeological investigation. Image courtesy of Colchester Archaeological Trust

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Unique ID: ESS-F89194

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Roman coin hoard found in a pottery vessel during an archaeological investigation. The hoard consists of 1,247 copper-alloy coins, the earliest dating to the middle of the 3rd century and the latest to c. AD 271.

1,247 Roman coins in a pottery flask, and a second associated flask, from COLCHESTER, ESSEX

This report will consider the coins with respect to the criteria laid down in the Treasure Act (1996): i.e. their age, precious metal content, and whether they can be said to come from the same find. The latter point is clear from their archaeological context.

The coins were packed into a grey ware flask (CAM 281) and then buried. An empty flask of the same form as that containing the coins had been buried upright and intact close by. It may have held a recovered hoard, or been buried as a reserve container for additional coins. This therefore originally was, or could have developed into, a two-container hoard.

The coins range in date from AD 251/3-271. In composition the hoard is similar to many Romano-British coin hoards dating to the period of the breakaway Gallic Empire. This was founded in AD 260 by Postumus, governor of the two provinces of Germania, and covered Germany, Gaul, Spain and Britain. Its capital was Trier. In AD 274 the provinces were re-incorporated into the legitimate ('central') empire by Aurelian.

Summary by reign

Central Empire
Trebonianus Gallus (251-3) 1
Valerian I, Gallienus and family (253-60) 117
Gallienus and Salonina (260-8) 81
undated coins of Gallienus and Salonina (253-68) 9
Claudius II (268-70) 10
Quintillus (270) 4
Gallic Empire
Postumus 557
Laelian 7
Marius 14
Victorinus 278
Identification uncertain or illegible 169


The coins are all of the denomination known as radiate antoniniani, originally a silver multiple of the denarius but by this time debased to the point of being copper-alloy with a wash of silver on the surface (c. 1% silver). Traces of the silver wash still survive on several coins.

Over 200 coin hoards with closing dates between 260 and 274 have been found in Britain, several very much larger than this one. Locally, one was found on Mersea Island in about 1980 and three were found in close association at, Gosbecks. None of these hoards was from an archaeological excavation and none was given to Colchester Museum.

There can be no doubt but that these coins belong together as a hoard and that they constitute a prima facie case of treasure, being bronze coins of an antiquity greater than 300 years and a coin find of more than ten pieces. Their pottery container and the second associated pottery flask should also be considered treasure by their association with the coins.

As the developer has waived his right to the reward the find will go to Colchester Museum with the rest of the site archive (artefacts, ecofacts and site records).

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Donated to museum by all parties, hence disclaimed as Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2011T129


Broad period: ROMAN
Period from: ROMAN
Date from: Circa AD 260
Date to: Circa AD 271

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1249

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Wednesday 23rd February 2011

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Laura McLean
Identified by: Laura McLean

Other reference numbers

Treasure case number: 2011T129

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Secondary material: Ceramic
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: Eastern (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Essex (County)
District: Colchester (District)
To be known as: Colchester Town

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: ESS
Created: 7 years ago
Updated: 5 years ago

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