Mysterious Coin Stash Unearthed—After 2K Years

26 Roman and Late Iron Age coins found in Derbyshire
By Shelley Hazen,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2014 12:03 PM CDT
Updated Jul 12, 2014 11:14 AM CDT
Mysterious Coin Stash Unearthed— After 2K Years
A stock image of Roman coins.   (Shutterstock)

A cave in Britain may have been the perfect hiding place for a stash of coins … because 2,000 years passed before anyone found them. A climber sheltering from the rain happened upon four coins in Dovedale, Derbyshire, reports the Ashbourne News Telegraph, which led to a National Trust excavation of the site, called Reynard’s Cave. And what exactly did they find? A trove of 26 Roman and Late Iron Age coins and 20 Late Iron Age gold and silver pieces that may have belonged to the Corieltavi Tribe; three of the Roman coins pre-date the 43 AD invasion of Britain, reports the BBC. The discovery is a triple mystery: Roman coins have never been found in a cave, coins from these two civilizations have never been buried together, and the Corieltavi have long been thought to have occupied areas further east during the Late Iron Age.

The stash was possibly hidden in a cave for protection; Late Iron Age coins were largely symbols of power and status, rather than used to buy goods. However, it's possible the coins' owner squirreled away his "best stuff," or was awaiting an increase in their value, speculates one archeologist on the dig. The project proved exciting for one participant—a military vet involved in the excavation as part of a rehabilitation program. "I was working at the back of the cave, in the dark, and I was the first person to find a coin—a silver coin. It was so exciting,” she tells the Telegraph. The coins have been cleaned and will become permanent museum display. (In other ancient news, Rome’s Coliseum was once a condo of sorts.)

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