Roman stash could be a star attraction

This Is Wiltshire: Tony Mims with the 4th-century Roman coins he found near Malmesbury Tony Mims with the 4th-century Roman coins he found near Malmesbury

A hoard of Roman coins has been discovered in a field in Milbourne, but the man who found them says that in Roman times they weren’t worth very much.

Tony Mims, a retired Army warrant officer, of Pinewood Way, Colerne, made the find after searching the field for several years.

He estimates the buried pot contains more than 1,000 of the mud-encrusted coins, each of them dating back to the 4th century.

Mr Mims said: “I’ve been going back to the same field for the last four or five years.

“In terms of coins, I’ve found a few each year – last year I found six, the year before it was nine and the year before that I found 13, so I knew there must be a pot buried somewhere.”

It is thought the coins were buried during the time of Constantine the Great, a ruler of major historical significance, who lived from the years 272 to 337.

Mr Mims said he is still not sure of the value of the coins today, but added they would not have been worth much in Roman times.

He said: “Over the years, I’ve donated 54 coins to the museum in Malmesbury, and I’d like these ones to go there too if the museum wants them.

“It would be the star attraction at that museum, I’d have thought.

“It is a big find because there are so many of the coins, but they’re not worth much.

“The coins are called bronze follis. There’s probably only enough here to have bought a couple of lunches back in Roman times, but it clearly meant enough for someone to bury it.”

It is not the only big find for the former soldier, who was a member of the Royal Corps Transport and Army Physical Training Corps.

He began metal detecting in 1973, leaving the Army to become an HGV driver in 1997, when he really took to the hobby.

Since then, he has discovered many historical items, including a 15th-century gold ring discovered in Malmesbury that is thought to have belonged to a nobleman.

His latest stash will go through the coroner’s court to establish if the hoard is a treasure trove.

After that, Mr Mims and the owner of the field, a Milbourne farmer, will discuss what will happen to the coins if Athelstan Museum choose not to take them.

Mr Mims said: “I really became interested in history when I was at school. I did an O-level history project on Tutankhamun and that was it.

“It’s fantastic to make a find like this. It’s always exciting.”

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