Dig deep to keep hoard of historic treasure in Yorkshire

Discovering one of the biggest hoards of Roman coins in the north of England could make you feel like you have struck gold.

David Blakey with some his find. Pictures: Bruce Rollinson.
David Blakey with some his find. Pictures: Bruce Rollinson.

But a museum in Yorkshire is being asked to dig deep and raise £44,200 just to keep hold of the impressive collection, which is made up of more than 1,800 coins.

The Yorkshire Museum has just four months to raise the money needed – sparking a fresh appeal to keep the hoard in Yorkshire and in public collections.

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The hoard was discovered near the village of Wold Newton in East Yorkshire in 2014.


It dates back to 307AD – a period of great uncertainty in the Roman Empire and Yorkshire.

Andrew Woods, curator of numismatics at the museum, said: “This is an absolutely stunning find with a strong connection to one of the most significant periods in York’s Roman history.

“No hoard of this size from this period has ever been discovered in the north of England before.

“It contains coins from the time of Constantius who died in the city and then the first to feature Constantine, rising to power.

David Blakey finding the Wold Newton Hoard.

“This was a pivotal moment in York’s history but also the history of the western world.

“It was also a time of great uncertainty in the empire, as different Roman powers looked to challenge Constantine’s claim as emperor.”

Mr Woods added: “We hope to now save the hoard to make sure it stays in Yorkshire for the public to enjoy but also so we can learn more about this fascinating period as well as why it was buried and to whom it might have belonged.”

The museum’s appeal launches this week and coincides with the 1,710th anniversary of the death of Constantius in York, whose dying wish that Constantine should be his successor.


Richard Abdy, curator of Roman coins at the British Museum, said: “The Wold Newton hoard represents an evocative illustration of the power politics at the time York was an imperial capital of the Roman World.

“The coins illustrate the several co-emperors all jockeying for ultimate power: York’s local team consisted of father and son Constantius I and Constantine I.

“Constantius was based in the city whilst dealing with the unruly Picts north of Hadrian’s Wall, whereupon his death Constantine was declared emperor by the army of Britain in AD 306, a turning point in world history as Constantine was to become the first Christian emperor.”

The 1,857 Roman copper coins were discovered in a ceramic vessel and are known as ‘nummi’. They are around 3cm in size and represent the typical currency of the fourth century.

David Blakey finding the Wold Newton Hoard.

At the time of burial, the hoard would have been worth the equivalent of a Roman soldier’s annual salary, three years’ salary for a carpenter or six years for a farm labourer.

It could buy 700 chickens, 2,000 fish or 11,000 pints of beer.

The hoard is largest of its kind found in the north of England and the second largest ever found in the country.

The largest – the Fyfield Hoard – was found in 1944 and is currently kept at the Ashmoleon Museum in Oxford.

A major part of the Wold Newton hoard, along with the ceramic vessel, is on public display at the Yorkshire Museum until October 9.

For more about the appeal, or to donate to help save the hoard, visit the website at yorkshiremuseum.org.uk/wold-newton-hoard.