Treasure hunter homes in on Roman treasure and detects site of an ancient house
AN amateur treasure-hunter's find of more than 3,600 Roman coins has led to the discovery of an ancient home.
David Beard took up metal detecting for some respite while he was caring for his mother who had Alzheimer's disease.
And he had only been doing it as a hobby for a year when he made the incredible discovery in Amber Valley.
Yesterday, his find was deemed to be treasure by Paul McCandless, deputy assistant coroner for Derby and South Derbyshire.
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Two members of the Derbyshire Archaeological Society became involved in excavating the site and found the 3,631 coins were in the middle of the room of a large Roman house.
Mr Beard, of Sandbed Lane, Belper, said the coins he found ranged from the size of a lentil to the size of a modern penny. He said: "I was metal detecting in Amber Valley and in the first hole I found there were 500 coins."
They are third-century coins of a 'barbarous' radiate. This name refers to the spiked crown of the emperor on the coin.
According to a report from Eleanor Ghey, from The British Museum, they were produced locally and probably used to fill a gap in the official coin supply in Britain during the late third century.
If someone finds a hoard or treasure they must report it to the British Museum. It is then down to a coroner to decide on the basis of evidence whether something is treasure.
If an item or items are over 300 years old and contain 10% or more of precious metal they are officially treasure.
Susan Ebbins, of Derbyshire Archaeological Society, who has been excavating the site with fellow society member Alan Palfreyman, said: "Most hoards were found in the 18th and 19th centuries when people were expanding into the country and building roads.
"It is one of the biggest finds of recent times. The site would have been an industrial one in Roman times. There is coal available which Romans would have used and iron stone, so they may have been smelting iron as well.
"We don't know yet if the coins were made at the site or not. We haven't had them valued yet but, because they're aren't silver or gold, it won't be a vast amount."
Mr Beard does not yet know if he will profit from his find.
Before Mr Beard's find nobody knew there had been a Roman settlement in the area, which must remain a secret, and after the archaeological society began their excavations he became very excited.
The 50-year-old said: "It is incredibly exciting to make a find like this. But it can also feel quite daunting. My finds have already appeared in an archaeological journal.
"When I'm dead and buried my name will maybe associated with this site."
Excavations of the large Roman house are now in their third year and will probably continue for many more years.
The archaeologists have so far revealed one room.
Mr Beard, who works as a composer, said: "It's still quite unclear how important this find is as the excavation is still ongoing.
"After finding the coins the archaeologists got involved and we found painted plaster and floors.
"From the painting and the bits of pottery we have found there it's some kind of middle-to-upper-class house."