Roman silver coin hoard among Welsh finds declared treasure

Other Welsh finds declared treasure include several medieval gold rings and silver annular brooches.

A Roman silver coin hoard is among a number of Welsh archaeological finds that have recently been declared treasure.

The hoard was discovered by metal-detectorists Darren Jess, Mark Hewer, and Justin Thomas in Llanelwedd Community, Powys, between September 2020 and May 2021.

Roman coin hoard comprising 21 silver denarii. IMAGE: © Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

Comprising 29 silver denarii dating from the reign of Vespasian (AD 69-79) to the reign of Antoninus Pius (AD 138-161), its value would have been around one month’s pay for a Roman legionary.

The hoard may have been buried around AD 145-160 for safe-keeping or as a votive offering.

Other finds recently declared treasure include two late medieval gold iconographic rings, one of which features an oval bezel engraved with a depiction of St Christopher (patron saint of travel) carrying the Christ Child on his shoulder.

Medieval gold iconographic ring depicting St Christopher wading through water with the Christ Child perched on his shoulders. The hoop is decorated with stylised foliage design. It was discovered by metal-detectorist Ron Ford in Bishton Community, Newport. IMAGE:  © Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

‘Depictions of St Christopher carrying the Christ Child were popular on iconographic rings and devotional jewellery in the medieval period, when saints were venerated for their virtues, and their life stories were celebrated,’ Sian Iles of Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales explains.

The other ring was discovered in Monmouthshire by metal-detectorist Paul Tourle. It features a bezel with two faces.

Its left face depicts a woman in a hooded gown and a girl with a halo – possibly a representation of St Anne teaching the Virgin Mary to read – while on its right face, St George is shown wielding a shield and a lance above a dragon.

Late medieval gold iconographic ring found by metal-detectorist Paul Tourle in Monmouthshire last year. It bears the inscription en bon an (‘A good year’).  IMAGE:  © Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

An inscription reading en bon an (‘A good year’) is engraved inside its hoop, indicating that it was perhaps a New Year’s gift.

Three medieval silver annular brooches have also been declared treasure, including one decorated with grooves inlaid with black niello (a mixture usually of sulphur, copper, silver, and lead). This technique became popular in medieval jewellery in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Discovered last year in Powys by metal-detectorist Michael Turner, this small medieval annular brooch is decorated with a cross-face and inlaid with black niello. IMAGE: © Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

Several post-medieval and early modern rings were also declared treasure, among them a gold memento mori seal ring bearing a skull motif and the owner’s initials.

Memento mori, literally translating as ‘remember you must die’, acted as reminders of the transience and vanities of earthly life. 

Photographed by Robin Maggs – Am  A gold ring inscribed with two pairs of initials and the date 1712. It was unearthed by Terrence Shapcott whilst metal-detecting in Llanbradach and Pwll y Pant Community.  IMAGE: © Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales
Treasure found in Wales must be reported to the Portable Antiquities Schemes (PAS Cymru).