I have spent the majority of my volunteering time over the last 2 years working on the Beau St Hoard, and during that time, I discovered a whole new love of Roman coins. So, when the Beau St project was finished, and I got the chance to do a handling table for the Tuesday Times Tables, I wanted to choose a different group of coins to show off. As the Collections team were going to Timsbury for the Festival of Archaeology, what better choice than the Timsbury Hoard?
The Beau St Hoard has 17,577 coins (or thereabouts!), so in comparison, the Timsbury Hoard, with only 20 silver coins, is very tiny. However, the coins themselves are just as interesting.
The Whole Hoard
The coins were found in 2011 in the village of Timsbury, about 7.5 miles south west of Bath. They were discovered separately by a metal detectorist who was detecting in a field. As they were found in a small area, even though they weren’t together in a pot or box, they are still considered a hoard.
They cover roughly 100 years of Roman Imperial history, from 141AD to 249AD. The earliest coin depicts Faustina the Elder (wife of Emperor Antoninus Pius), and the latest shows Emperor Philip I. When Faustina’s coin was minted, the Empire was in safe hands. By the time Philip’s coins were issued, the Empire was in turmoil, with almost all the Emperors murdered by the army or their successors.
I chose 5 of the 20 coins from the hoard as handling objects for my table. These included the earliest coin, one of the latest coins, and my favourite coin from the hoard. I don’t think many people believed me that we would let them handle real Roman coins that were over 1700 years old!
My favourite coin!
My favourite coin from the hoard is a denarius from Emperor Septimius Severus, who ruled from 193-211AD. He was the first African emperor of Rome. He also renovated Hadrian’s Wall, invaded Caledonia (Scotland), and died in York. On the back, or reverse, of the coin, is a picture of an ancient African goddess known in Rome as Dea Caelestis (Goddess of the Sky). She is riding a lion, which is jumping over a spring. It’s a complicated picture, but it shows how detailed and interesting the coins could be!
Can you imagine if modern coins had such exciting pictures on them?