A rare Roman coin hoard acquired by Dorset Museum in 2022 has gone on display

August 10, 2023

The hoard of Roman coins was found in the parish of Askerswell in West Dorset in 2017 during a metal detecting rally. 

A selection of coins from the hoard. © The British Museum - Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
A selection of coins from the hoard. © The British Museum – Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

A total of 627 silver denarius coins were recovered, the majority being retrieved on the same day through archaeological excavation by Mike Trevarthen and Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen.

The hoard was probably buried in the late 80s CE, as the latest coin found dates to 85 CE. However, the earliest coins date to the Roman Republic, although there are coins of all of the Emperors of the 1st century CE from Augustus to Domitian. It is the largest hoard of its date in Britain, and nothing like it has previously been seen in Dorset.

Following their discovery, the coins were declared as Treasure. Dorset Museum raised a total of £34,977 to acquire them through the Treasure process, with the support of significant grants from the Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Headley Trust Archaeological Acquisitions Fund, Richard Beleson and a number of other private donors.

The new showcase display, which runs from 4 August until 28 September 2023, allows visitors a first glance at some of the most important coins from the hoard, as well as an insight into the work going on behind the scenes to research, catalogue and eventually to display the whole hoard in the Museum’s People’s Dorset gallery.  

The showcase display is located outside the Museum’s Collection Discovery Centre, the Museum’s on-site collection store, built as part of the Museum’s redevelopment in 2021. The store has a glass façade through which visitors are able to see the work that goes on behind the scenes to research, conserve and catalogue the collections. There are also monthly tours of the Centre. The next public tour of the Collections Discovery Centre takes place on 23 August 2023 at 2pm.

Elizabeth Selby, Director of Collections and Public Engagement at the Museum said, “We were delighted to have been able to acquire this rare and significant coin hoard in 2022 with the support of a number of generous funders and donors. We are thrilled to be able to give visitors a first glance at the Hoard as we continue to carry out the necessary work to catalogue, photograph and research it. We hope that the hoard will go on permanent display at the Museum in 2024.”

Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen, Finds Liaison Officer for Dorset Council said: “This exceptional discovery was reported by the finders as potential treasure through the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme, and it is important that the Dorset Museum was able to acquire it as a result of the process.”

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