Frome Hoard declared the nation’s favourite Treasure find

Published: 3 years ago Author:

The Frome Hoard has been declared the nation's favourite Treasure find following a vote by readers of the Telegraph. The poll was undertaken to mark the 20th anniversary of the Treasure Act law that was implemented in 1997. A list of the top 20 finds was developed by a panel and was then put to the vote:

The Frome Hoard of over 52,000 coins is now housed in the Museum of Somerset. The Roman hoard was discovered in 2010 by metal detectorist Dave Crisp. All Treasure finds on the list are available to see at local museums across the country.

The British Museum has a central role in administering finds reported under the Treasure Act.

On 24th September 1997 the common law of treasure trove, in place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for more than 500 years, was replaced by the Treasure Act 1996. This marked a change for the fortune of artefacts found in these countries, allowing thousands of important finds to be acquired by public collections for all to enjoy.

The Frome Hoard

In 2010 Dave Crisp found the hoard dating to the 3rd century AD while metal-detecting near Frome, and reported the find to his local Finds Liaison Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Initially Mr Crisp found 21 coins, but when he came across a pot filled with more he knew he needed archaeological help to excavate them. It is the largest Roman coin hoard to have been found in a single container with 52,503 coins. The excavation, led by Alan Graham, lifted the coins in layers which has enabled us to determine that the hoard was buried in a single act.

The coins comes from a time of political turmoil in the Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD. The hoard was possibly hidden due to a time of instability in Britain when Carausius, a military commander of the Roman Empire, revolted and declared himself ruler of an independent Britain and Gaul. Carausius held power for seven years before being assassinated by his finance minister Allectus who then seized power and ruled over Britain and Gaul. However, there is increasingly strong evidence that the hoard represented a ritual offering to the gods, made by an ancient water course near a spring.

The coins span 40 years from around AD 250 to 290 and the great majority are of the denomination known as 'radiates', made of debased silver or bronze. Over 25 rulers are represented in the hoard, including several from a breakaway 'Gallic' Empire. One of the most important aspects of the hoard is that it contains a large number of coins of Carausius, who ruled Britain independently from AD 286 to AD 293 and was the first Roman emperor to strike coins in Britain. The hoard contains over 850 of his coins, making it the largest group of his coins to survive from a hoard. Amongst these coins are five rare examples of his silver denarii, the only coins of their type being struck anywhere in the Roman Empire at the time.

The entire hoard includes coins minted by 23 emperors and three emperors' wives. Other rulers featured include Valerian (AD 253-60) who died in captivity in Persia, Aurelian (AD 270-5) who quashed Zenobia's revolt at Palmyra, and Diocletian (AD 284-305) who carried out major reforms of the Empire, securing its future for another century or so.

Michael Lewis, Head of Portable Antiquities & Treasure, the British Museum, said, 'It is fantastic news that the public have voted for their favourite Treasure find and that the winner is the Frome Hoard. The hoard itself is so important because the coins in it were deposited in a container over time, not in a single event, and this transformed archaeologists thinking about why some Roman coin hoards were buried. The hoard was acquired by Somerset Museums and ensured that this important find can be displayed for local people to learn about and enjoy. The finder of the Frome Hoard, Dave Crisp acted impeccably at the time of its discovery. Realising the find was important he stopped digging and called his local Finds Liaison Officer for archaeological help which ensured the find was properly excavated, and the immediate context of the hoard properly understood. Although the Frome Hoard was the winner of the public vote, all the finds in the top 20 are to be celebrated in their own right. It is truly remarkable that these finds, most found by everyday people, are transforming our understanding of Britain's past, and all 20 are in museums across England and Wales for the public to see and experience'.

Notes to editors

For more information, news and events celebrating Treasure 20 throughout 2017 see the webpage:

Follow updates and join in the conversations on Treasure 20 via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #Treasure20 and follow the Museum @britishmuseum

For more Treasure20 content, follow the British Museum blog at

Deciding the top 20

The Telegraph newspaper launched the campaign to begin the celebrations of the initiation of the Treasure act by inviting readers to choose their favourite Treasure find of the last 20 years, from a short list of 20 compiled by a panel of expert judges, consisting of:

Michael Lewis - Head of Portable Antiquities and Treasure at the British Museum

Mary-Ann Ochota - Anthropologist, author and broadcaster

Steve Trow - Director of Research for Historic England

Mike Heyworth - Chairman of the Council for British Archaeology

Edward Besly - Numismatist and Assistant Keeper at National Museum Wales

Tim Pestell - Curator of Archaeology collections at Norwich Castle Museum

Keith Miller - Journalist for the Daily Telegraph

The judges discussed the virtues of a host of Treasure finds, but after much debate eventually selected the final twenty, based on the following criteria:

1.The find should advance archaeological knowledge, whether that be of a particular period of time or for the locality in which it was found.

2.The find should have been recovered in a way that is an example of best practice. See the Code of Practice for responsible detecting for more information.

3.The find should add value to the national collection, whether that be of a national or local museum.

Contact: Michael Lewis 02073238611

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