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Roman coins haul dug up

[gallery] Roman coins more than 2,000 years old have been discovered in Staffordshire in what experts described today as a significant find.

Roman coins haul dug up

Roman coins more than 2,000 years old have been discovered in Staffordshire in what experts described today as a significant find.

The silver coins were unearthed by metal detecting enthusiast father-of-three Scott Heeley, from Hednesford.

At least one of 242 coins bears the head of Roman politician and military general Mark Antony, the loyal friend of Julius Caesar.

Experts say it is the most exciting discovery in the area since the Staffordshire Hoard – a collection of the largest haul of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found.

Experts at the British Museum have compiled a report on Mr Heeley's find while an independent valuation committee will identify how much they are worth.

Ian Richardson, the museum's treasure registrar, confirmed that the coins were from the first and second centuries.

He said: "We get quite a few coin hoards every year but this is quite a good one.

"There was a really large hoard of 52,000 coins found in Somerset in 2010 but they were bronze. These are silver and are from an earlier period. In the coin world, this is a good find."

Mr Richardson said the local museum would be given a chance to acquire the coins and that if they did not take up the offer, an inquiry would be held to decide whether the hoard could be categorised as treasure.

Any financial reward will be split between 50-year-old Mr Heeley and the owner of the field in Stoke-on-Trent that the coins were found in.

Network Rail maintenance worker Mr Heeley, of Hednesford, said: "They looked more like chocolate buttons at first because of the amount of muck around them. I was shell-shocked when I realised what I'd got.

"What really thrills me is that I've unearthed a piece of history."

Mr Heeley made his historic discovery while on a dig with the Birmingham-based Timeline Detection group.

After several hours of looking, the 50-year-old's detector gave a strong signal and he stopped to dig. A silver coin came up with the first shovelful and his detector started buzzing madly.

He said: "A friend Dean said 'Oh my god, you've hit the jackpot'. Every handful of soil which was coming out contained silver coins. I was shaking with delight."

Back-up was summoned and after four hours of digging, the group removed 242 coins and some fragments. Mr Heeley's discovery came after only two years after taking up the hobby.

The Staffordshire Hoard was discovered in a field on land between Brownhills and Burntwood in 2009 by metal detector Terry Herbert. During a recent tour of America, the hoard was hailed as a "global phenomenon" after more than 50,000 visitors flocked to see it. The Hoard hit the headlines last month when it emerged travellers want to set up camp in a field bordering the site of the discovery.

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