The discovery of the hoard was made by a metal-detectorist near to St Albans, Hertfordshire, and reported to his local Finds Liaison Officer. In October 2012 the findspot was excavated by a team of archaeologists from St Albans City and District Museums Service and altogether 159 coins were found.
Lots and lots of coins!
The coins date to the late 4th to early 5th century AD (after AD 408 regular supplies of Roman coinage to Britain ceased) and were mostly made in the Italian cities of Milan and Ravenna. The coins were issued under the Emperors Gratian, Valentinian II, Theodosius I, Arcadius and Honorius.
The largest hoard of 565 Roman solidi was found at Hoxne in Suffolk in 1992.
Richard Abdy, Curator of Roman Coins as the British Museum said:
This is a hugely exciting find. During the period of the Roman occupation of Britain, coins were usually buried for two reasons; as a religious sacrifice to the Gods, or as a secure store of wealth, with the aim of later recovery. The late date of the coins suggests their burial could have been associated with the difficult separation of Britain from the Roman Empire c. AD 410.
The coins may have been buried for safekeeping because their owners were worried that they might be taken from them during a war or raids, because they were going on a long journey or doing something else that was risky.
Gold solidi were extremely valuable coins and Roman law did not allow them to be spent in everyday marketplace situations. They would have been used for large transactions such as buying land, or goods by the shipload, and were an especially handy source of portable wealth for travellers (kind of like modern day traveller’s cheques). Therefore it is likely that the ancient owners of these coins were very rich, Roman elite, merchants or soldiers receiving bulk pay.