Roman gold coin hoard purchased for St Albans District

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News release: 02 June 2015

St Albans City and District Council has purchased the Sandridge hoard of Roman gold coins with the aid of National Lottery grant funding and donations.

Roman gold coins
The coins will go on public display at Verulamium Museum, Saint Michael’s Street, St Albans from mid-September. The display will be accompanied by a programme of talks and activities for children and families.

Fifty-five coins were found by a metal detectorist on private land in the north of the district of St Albans, Hertfordshire, in 2012. On investigating the site, archaeologists then recovered a further 104 coins. Together they make up one of the largest hoards of Roman gold coins found in the UK and date from the late fourth to early fifth centuries. 

The coins were purchased for £98,500 through the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities’ Scheme, a voluntary initiative to record archaeological objects found by members of the public. 

This was made possible with the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust, local donors and an overseas benefactor. The individual donors wish to remain anonymous. 

Cllr Annie Brewster, Portfolio Holder for Sport, Leisure and Heritage at the Council, said: “What an incredible story. These beautiful solid gold coins are a rare and significant find as no similar hoards of this period or size have been found in the UK. I am delighted they are staying with us permanently as a result of many people’s passionate support and generous financial backing.

“The site of Verulamium was the third largest city in Roman Britain yet it is still unbelievable that this ‘pot of gold’ has been sitting nearby for so many centuries. I would like to thank everyone for making it possible for these coins to go on display at Verulamium Museum, alongside objects and mosaics from our Roman city so we can all enjoy them.”

Almost £150,000 has been raised to acquire the coins and to display them appropriately with supporting activities.

The Heritage Lottery Fund made a grant of £105,000 towards the purchase price of the coins and to fund an accompanying programme of activities.
 
St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust also contributed over £ 11,000 (including £10,000 from two local residents), the overseas benefactor £24,000, and the Council a further £6,000.

David Thorold, Prehistory to Medieval Curator at Verulamium Museum in St Albans, said: “Gold coins, known as solidi, were extremely valuable and were not traded or exchanged on a regular basis in Roman Britain. They would have been used for large transactions such as buying land or goods by the shipload.

“Evidence suggests these coins formed part of a buried hoard that had been disturbed at some point during the last couple of hundred years by, for example, ploughing. During the Roman occupation of Britain, people buried coins for two reasons, either as a sacrifice to their Gods or as a form of secure storage. In the latter case, this would be a temporary measure to protect their wealth when faced with a threat of war or while undertaking a long journey.”

“The coins date to the closing years of the fourth century and start of the fifth. They were issued under five Roman emperors: Gratian, Valentinian II, Theodosius, Arcadius and Honorius. They would have been made in the western mints of the Empire, mostly in the Italian cities of Milan, Rome and Ravenna.”

Councillor contact:
Cllr Annie Brewster, Portfolio Holder for Sport, Leisure and Heritage at the Council
Tel: 01438 832255
Email: cllr.a.brewster@stalbans.gov.uk

Contact for the media:
Amanda Wilkinson, 
Media and Internal Communications Officer 
St Albans City and District Council
Tel: 01727 819317 
E-mail: amanda.wilkinson@stalbans.gov.uk 
www.stalbans.gov.uk
Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StAlbansCouncil 

Notes:

1. St Albans City and District Council’s museums service runs Verulamium Museum in St Michael’s Street and the Museum of St Albans at the St Peter’s Street end of Hatfield Road. It also manages the medieval clock tower in the High Street, a field archaeology unit and associated excavations. For more information, please visit the museums website www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk or call 01727 751810.
2. Work is underway to raise funds to transform St Albans’ grade II* listed Town Hall into a new museum and art gallery. This will provide a new home for the Museum of St Albans. The Council is working with St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust and the University of Hertfordshire Galleries on the project. The St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust is leading a public fundraising campaign ‘renaissance: St Albans’ for the project. More information about the campaign is available on the website: www.renaissancestalbans.org.uk.
3. About the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF): From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife, the HLF use National Lottery players' money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about. More information is available at: www.hlf.org.uk.