The Yeovil Hoard

This week, we feature a story from the Museum of Somerset South West Heritage Trust in Taunton with a Yeovil connection:                                                           

Museum launches campaign to secure Yeovil hoard of Roman coins

The South West Heritage Trust has launched a campaign to secure the Yeovil hoard so that it can be displayed in the Museum of Somerset and enjoyed by local people.

The Yeovil hoard of 3,335 Roman coins was discovered in March 2013 while ground works were being carried out on a new artificial grass pitch on behalf of South Somerset District Council at Yeovil Recreation Centre. The hoard was spotted by Mark Copsey, the driver of a bulldozer, who reported the find.

The hoard was declared Treasure and in May The Treasure Valuation Committee recommended a valuation of £53,500. To support the museum’s acquisition bid South Somerset District Council have generously waived their right as landowner to half the value of the reward. The Friends of the Museum of Somerset have also pledged their support by kindly donating £1,000.

Steve Minnitt, Head of Museums for the South West Heritage Trust, said: “The Yeovil hoard is a significant find. We would be delighted to see it end up in the county museum where it will be seen and enjoyed by thousands of people and help to tell the story of Roman Somerset. We would also like to hold an event in Yeovil exploring Roman treasures from South Somerset, when some of the coins could be displayed.”

The hoard consists of 3,335 silver coins of the second and third centuries AD. 165 of the coins are denarii and the rest are known as radiates. In addition, there are four large brass coins of a denomination known as a sestertius. 40 emperors and empresses are represented by their portraits on the coins, together with a series of exotic animals such as elephants, hippos and lions. The hoard was buried in a small pit which lay on the edge of a previously unrecognised Romano-British settlement, probably around AD 269-271.

Councillor Sylvia Seal, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture at South Somerset District Council added: “It would be fantastic if the hoard of Roman coins found on our site at Yeovil Recreation Centre were to end up in a local museum for many people to enjoy. We are extremely supportive of the South West Heritage Trust’s plans to house the coins locally in Somerset and feel that by waiving our rights as the land owner to half the value of the reward, we are doing the right thing in retaining them at the Museum of Somerset.”

The South West Heritage Trust is extremely grateful to the District Council and the Museum Friends for their generous support. To secure the hoard, grant funding applications are underway to raise the £26,750 needed. As part of this the Trust needs to raise £4,000 through local donations by October. For more information about supporting the campaign to acquire the Yeovil hoard please contact Steve Minnitt on 01823 347440 or steve.minnitt@swheritage.org.uk.

The Museum of Somerset is part of the South West Heritage Trust, an independent charity committed to protecting and celebrating Somerset and Devon’s rich heritage.

 Yeovil hoard 1

 

Yeovil hoard 1 – Image showing a group of coins before and after cleaning at the British Museum, where the hoard is being held

Yeovil hoard 4

 

4 shows two coins of Philip I (AD 244-249) with images of elephants being ridden – AD 248 saw major celebrations in Rome to mark what was believed to be the 1000th anniversary of its founding. Coins struck often feature exotic animals such as these.

Yeovil hoard 5

5 Yeovil hoard – Otacilia Severa, wife of Philip I, AD 244-249, with hippo on the reverse.

Yeovil hoard 9

9 shows preserved textile that was used to wrap at least some of the coins in piles.

IMAGES COURTESY OF THE BRITSH MUSEUM

 

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