Newton Abbot treasure

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05 Apr 2014 21:52 #496 by tonyb
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Men uncover Newton Abbot treasure with metal detectors
By Herald Express | Posted: April 03, 2014

TWO important hoards of ancient coins, which reveal new historical data, have been officially declared treasure trove by South Devon coroner Ian Arrow.

Torquay DJ Lee Booth has discovered a rare cache of 2,000-year-old copper coins in an area previously not linked to the Romans in Devon.

And historian Iain Fraser discovered 12 coins dating back to 1500, possibly hidden in the ground during the upheaval of the Civil War, in fields at Hannahs at Seale Hayne, Newton Abbot.

Both discoveries were made using metal detectors.

It was one of the first times Lee, 34, of Highbury Road, Ellacombe, had been metal detecting. He found the 16 Roman copper alloy coins near Churchstow after being given permission by the farmer.

He said: "Surprised wasn't the word for how I felt. I thought I might find some Medieval hammered coins, but not Roman ones.

"The first one I found was a hell of a size. It must have weighed 28 grammes and it was still in a clod of mud. Then I picked up another signal and another and for half-an-hour I was just digging like a maniac."

Since then Lee, who is studying media at university in Newport in Wales, has gone on to make other important discoveries which are currently undergoing treasure trove inquiries.

One is a 15th century gold dress hook and the other is a bronze age polished flint axe head.

The Roman coins found at Churchstow all date from the first and second century. The oldest bears the head of the Roman Emperor Trajan, who ruled from 98AD and presided over the greatest military expansion in Roman history. Others show the Emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, as well as Antoninus Pius' wife Faustina I and possibly her daughter.

Seven were too corroded to be legible, Danielle Wootton, the Crown's find liaison officer for Devon told the Torquay inquest.

She said: "Devon in general is quite low in Roman finds, although we are now finding more and more Roman objects and each is part of the bigger picture.

"This find is another piece of the picture, which is like putting a jigsaw together to help people in Devon.

"There is not a huge amount known which is what makes this so interesting."

Iain Fraser, who lives on the Seale-Hayne estate, obtained special permission from Hannahs to metal detect on the land at Seale-Hayne.

After looking at old maps he started searching near an old farmhouse.

Within minutes he had found the first one and within the next two hours he found six post-medieval silver, hand hammered coins. A couple of days later he found two more in the same area. The final hoard was 12 coins.

Iain, who belongs to the Torbay Metal Detectors' Club, said: "It was a dream come true to find that many."

And he told the coroner photographs do not do the coins justice: "You don't get to hold them in your hand. It's different when you hold them."

Among the coins were a King Edward VI sixpence 1547-1563, four Queen Elizabeth I sixpences late 1500s, a King James I shilling 1603-1625 and a King Charles I shilling and a sixpence 1625-1649.

Ms Wootton said the coins may have been buried during a time when Civil War activity caused major unrest in South Devon.

Cromwell had stayed at Forde House, there was fighting at Bovey Tracey and Dartmouth, the Siege of Exeter and Royalist troops headed through South Devon returning to Cornwall

Both hoards went to the British Museum to go through the treasure finds process.

Now Plymouth Museum wants the Roman coins and Newton Abbot Museum wants the post-Medieval finds. However, Iain is hopeful they may eventually go on show at Hannahs, which is open to the public.

Rodger Jackman from Hannahs, said: "Hopefully, Iain's knowledge and experience will help to give us a better historical understanding of Seale-Hayne and he has already found some items of great interest."

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