A huge stash of Roman silver coins unearthed in a Midland field has been declared treasure, worth tens of thousands of pounds.
Worcestershire deputy coroner Margarite Elcock ruled on Wednesday that the Bredon Hill Hoard should be “seized on behalf of the Queen as treasure”.
The coins, which are now bronze having been “debased to less than one per cent silver,” date to 244-282AD – a period in Roman history known as The Crisis of the Third Century, when Britain was ruled by more than 15 emperors in just over 30 years.
They depict a range of emperors, including Philip the Second and Emperor Probus.
Emperor Victorianus also features on a number of the coins, but he was pictured with the bust of another emperor and his name was misspelt.
The hoard was discovered by Redditch binman Jethro Carpenter, 43, with his metal detector and friend Mark Gilmore, 47, on Bredon Hill, in Worcestershire in June.
The pair found a clay pot with a haul of 3,874 coins buried two feet down. Nearby Worcester is a hotspot for Roman artefacts and evidence of settlements from the period have been discovered in villages in the area.
The Bredon Hill Hoard is the largest ever found in Worcestershire and has been valued by the British Museum as worth a “five-figure sum.”
Father-of-two Mr Carpenter, said: “The first thing I found was a shotgun cartridge, but not long after, the detector went off again and it was the coins.
“The first of them was three coins stuck together and then I knew straight away it was a hoard because you never find more than one. It was amazing and as I found more of them I thought ‘when is this going to end?’
“I didn’t dream there would be anything like that there – I was totally delighted.”
Richard Henry, the British Museum’s finds liaison officer for Worcestershire and Warwickshire, described the Bredon Hoard as being of “local and national significance”.
He said: “Its position in the layers of archaeology suggests the hoard pot was buried in the mid-fourth century and it seems the hoard was hidden about 70 years after someone accumulated it. That in itself is very interesting.”
Dr Roger White, an expert in Roman archaeology from the University of Birmingham, described the find in Bredon as “exciting”.
“Bredon Hill is not a major hub of Roman activity, but it does sit between the settled areas of two tribes, while Worcester has a Roman foundation, and was a major focus of iron production,” he said.
“Hoards like this one in Bredon are always intriguing and the whole buried treasure thing captures the imagination.”
The coroner’s ruling on the Bredon Hoard means it will be valued and Mr Carpenter, whose previous finds include a gold Saxon pendant in 2007, will be paid for the find.
Mr Carpenter added: “It would be lovely for the hoard to stay in the area – London’s got enough already.”
A selection of the coins is now on display at Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum until November 26.
The museum would like to see the hoard return, but will need to raise enough cash to buy it and also pay for conservation and putting it on display, estimated to be around £20,000 extra.
A Worcestershire Museums spokesman said: “We do not yet know what the value will be however it will not be low. We will then have a short period of time to raise that value to acquire the hoard for the Worcestershire museum collection.
“If the money can be raised, the hoard will be exhibited in the county and used as part of research and events.”
The discovery follows that of the Staffordshire Hoard in July 2009, the country’s biggest ever find of Anglo Saxon gold. It netted metal detectorist Terry Herbert and local farmer Fred Johnson £1.6 million each after being unearthed in a muddy field near Brownhills.