Unpicking the Leominster hoard

The hoard has now undergone its Treasure inquest, and after discussion with the local museum service the coins will go on display at Stockton Bury Gardens.

Like most of the objects that work their way across the desk of a Finds Liaison Officer, for Peter Reavill (FLO for Herefordshire and Shropshire), the story of the Leominster Roman coin hoard began with a phone call. Two of Peter’s regular metal-detecting contacts, Martin Fulloway and Jeremy Daw, who frequently report their discoveries through the Portable Antiquities Scheme, described a Roman coin hoard they had found in farmland.

Images: Peter Reavill.

After assessing the findspot, Peter opened a small trench, which revealed that the hoard had been hidden in a shallow scoop, beneath two flat stones. The cache – a lump of fused coins, about the size of a rugby ball (above) – was block-lifted so its contents could be teased apart under controlled conditions. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s X-ray facilities suggested multiple groups within the hoard, a theory that was confirmed at the British Museum. There, painstaking conservation work showed that the hoard had been placed in three hessian-like bags (traces of cloth were preserved due to contact with corrosion from the coins). These had then been tucked inside a satchel or saddlebag of thick leather, sections of which also survived – as had fragments of plant leaves, whose presence has not yet been explained. The coins comprised 518 copper radiates dating from the 3rd century – the oldest was struck during the joint reign of Valerian and Gallienus (AD 253-260), while the youngest was an issue of Carausius, from c.AD 290 (inset).

The hoard has now undergone its Treasure inquest, and after discussion with the local museum service the coins will go on display at Stockton Bury Gardens, outside Leominster, which is run by the landowner Raymond Treasure and his family. An outbuilding near the findspot has been converted into a dedicated museum to display the hoard and interpret the site, alongside an array of other artefacts found on the farm and in the gardens, and donated by Martin and Jeremy.

Stockton Bury Gardens is open between noon and 5pm Wednesday to Sunday until October, reopening on 1 April 2018. For more information, see www.stocktonbury.co.uk