FOUND - Buried Coins Worth $265,000

Discovery of 600 Roman Coins Buried in Farmer's Field

Video footage of the coin hoard discovery by Detecting for Gold (Image: National Library of Ireland).

September 14, 2017
By Janina Myn Villapando, Contributing Author for What Sells Best

DORSET COUNTY, UK (VIDEO) – A hoard of 2,000-year-old Roman silver coins were discovered by a amateur metal detectorist in a farmer’s field. The surprisingly large haul of silver denarii is estimated to be worth as much as £200,000 ($265,000 USD).


A CoinWeek article stated that Mike Smale, a 35-year-old metal detecting enthusiast and fisherman from Devonshire, found the coins during the annual detectorist’s event in the city of Bridport. After finding a few coins, he called over officials to take over the excavation, believing that there could be more.

A total of 600 silver coins were found. Experts say that the denarii must have been buried in a pot and a farmer unknowingly shattered the container while plowing and scattered the coins across the land.

Most of the coins dated to around 32BCE featured a type of Roman galley or ship and were still in relatively pristine condition. These were believed to be minted under the rule of Mark Anthony, the Roman general, while he was in alliance with Cleopatra, the Egyptian Queen. This was during a civil war against Octavian, Julius Caesar’s nephew who soon became known as Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire.

The other coins featured Graeco-Roman deities while a few from the first century CE featured early Roman Emperors such as Marcus Salvius Otho, one of the rulers who reigned during the famous “Year of the Four Emperors” in 69 CE.

The event organizer, Sean McDonald, shared that the Bridport area was a good place for metal detecting but a discovery like this was unheard of. “I personally think a find of this size and variety will never be found again,” he said.

The coins were turned over to the local coroner as required by the Treasure Act 1996. They will then determine if the Smale’s find qualifies as a treasure and identify its value. According to the law, if considered treasure, the coins will be offered for sale to museums while the profit will be split between Smale and the farmer who owned the land. If there are no interested takers, Smale can do whatever he wants with the treasure. Smale plans to share the proceeds of his find to fellow members of the Southern Detectorists Club.


Coins more than 2000 years old and still in pristine condition are extremely rare. This uncommon combination of age and condition makes this an extraordinary find and offers a unique opportunity to privately own ancient coins that are normally found in museums.  It is likely that sold coins will be highly sought after by collectors.


Among the coin and metal detector treasures we’ve tracked this year, this one is definitely worth the news it’s generating.

Small details can make a big difference when identifying rare coins and their prices. If you found something, you may want to check with the experts found on our free appraisals page.


Things are still being sorted out, so we do not have any sales information at this time. We’ll keep you posted!


See if you can to spot a bargain among the most-watched medieval coins listed online, on ebay (research prices). Also see; Top 25: Coins on ebay, worldwide, right now (links open on ebay).

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