Published: 29/10/2008 00:00 - Updated: 07/02/2013 11:42

Treasure hunters set to coin it with Roman haul

Written byBY LAURA HANNAM

As the credit crunch hits pensioners across the country one pair have hit the jackpot by finding buried treasure.

Barrie Plasom and Dave PhillipsThe finders of a hoard of thousands of Roman coins agree with the words inscribed on them; 'happy times are here again'.

The collection of bronze coins, which may be worth hundreds of thousands in sterling, were discovered in a field north of Newport Pagnell and have now been declared as treasure.

It was discovered by a pair of experienced metal detectorists on ploughed farmland on December 1, 2006.

An investigation into the find was concluded by the Milton Keynes Coroner yesterday.

The court heard that pensioners Dave Phillips, from Dunstable, and Barrie Plasom, from Aspley Guise, were searching together using metal detectors with permission from the land owner.

The pair, who have been detecting together for three years, were on opposite sides of a field when Mr Plasom 'struck gold'.

Mr Phillips, who has been involved in nine previous significant finds, said: "Barrie found the first six stuck together and rang me on my mobile.

"Ten minutes later he called again and said he had 22 now.

"I said hang on and ran across the field."

They continued to dig a hole three feet deep and found more than 1,400 bronze coins and pieces of pottery.

"It was about 5.30pm at this time of year so it was pitch black and we couldn't see a thing," added Mr Phillips.

"We laid on our bellies and kept pulling out coins.

"It is difficult to explain how you feel when you are finding coins left, right and centre.

"We are a couple of old men and we suddenly became like young men.

Some of the haul of Roman coins"For me it is just finding the history, that is what I love."

The hoard has since been identified by the British Museum as dating from the 4th century AD.

Mr Phillips believes some could fetch up to £500 each and the collection may be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds in total.

The coins are inscribed with the heads of various Roman emperors and leaders and some with words translated as 'Happy times are here again', which date from around 348AD and was meant to reassure Roman citizenry of their safety against barbarian raids.

It is believed the hoard was deposited on a Roman rubbish pit.

The pair, who have both been metal detecting for 30 years, declared their find to Bedford Museum, though later realised the site was 250 yards inside the Buckinghamshire border.

An investigation by the coroner was called for as the Buckinghamshire County Museum, in Aylesbury, wants to acquire it.

Coroner Rodney Corner declared the hoard and its ceramic holder as treasure under the Treasure Act 1996.

The collection will now be valued by a committee of experts and the museum will then decide if it can afford to buy it.

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