The Greatest Roman Treasure in Britain Was Found Thanks to a Farmer’s Misplaced Hammer

The Guardian claims that Lawes called the local archaeological organization and the police department right away after discovering during his initial digging that a few gold coins and silver spoons had turned up.

When archaeologists arrived on the scene the next day, they meticulously marked off and removed the portion of earth containing the treasure. They hoped to inspect the objects in their laboratory at a later time to determine how old they were and how they had been stored.

All told, almost sixty pounds of gold and silver objects were discovered at the location. Among them were many silver spoons, 200 gold items, and almost 15,000 Roman coins.

This find, which was became known as the Hoxne Hoard, was a remarkable discovery for archaeologists. Archaeologist Judith Plouviez expressed her excitement at the discovery, calling it “an incredibly exciting and amazing find,” according to AP News. Furthermore, this find is “the largest and latest ever found in Britain,” according to Rachel Wilkinson, a different archaeologist, who spoke with Smithsonian Magazine.

Typically, radiocarbon dating is used by archaeologists to determine the age of old artifacts. They were unable to find any appropriate material in the cargo, though. As a result, they estimated that the wealth was most likely buried in 408 or 409 AD based on the text on the coins and the ruler engraved into them.

“If you look at them a little more carefully, then they should be dated to the period after the separation of Britain from the Roman Empire,” Roman-era archeologist Peter Guest told Smithsonian Magazine.

He presents the nearly complete clipping of all the coins in the Hoxne Hoard—that is, the removal of tiny portions of their edges—as proof of his case. These trimmings would have been used to make coins that resembled those made by the Romans during that time.

The guest provides a rational explanation for this, stating that “the population tried to get over this sudden cutoff in their precious metals supply by making the existing supplies go further, because the Roman Empire wasn’t supplying Britain with new gold and silver coins.”

It is also thought by archaeologists that a Romano-British family owned the riches. Because there was so much social unrest and turmoil at the period, it was typical for Roman settlers in Britain to bury their most valuable belongings.

But according to one archaeologist, the Romano-British family that is thought to have owned the trove placed a great deal of sentimental importance on it. According to Catherine Johns’ book The Hoxne Late Roman wealth: Gold Jewellery and Silver Plate, the way the wealth was stored lends credence to this assertion.

A portion of the retrieved artifacts were enclosed in tiny wooden boxes with leather linings. Furthermore, the gold and silver pieces were encircled by wood fragments, locks, and nails, among other objects. This prompts Catherine to claim that the package was thoughtfully buried rather than hurriedly thrown away.

Surprisingly, the objects found could provide some insight into the identify of the family that originally possessed them. The word “UTERE FELIX DOMINA IULIANE,” which approximately translates to “use this happily Lady Juliane,” is mentioned on a gold bracelet.

Additionally, the name “Aurelius Ursicinus” has been found twice. Because of this, some people now think that Aurelius and Juliane were the original proprietors of the treasure and the couple who got it. However, that hasn’t been verified yet.

Overall, the finding was a true find for archaeologists and consequently for Lawes. Smithsonian Magazine reports that the British government awarded him over £1.7 million for his finding and readiness to cooperate with authorities. He divided this money with the farmer whose land was dug up to retrieve the treasure.

Paradoxically, in addition to the treasure, Lawes discovered his misplaced hammer, which is currently housed in the British Museum.

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