Carnforth historian finds hoard of Roman coins near Arnside

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A METAL-detecting historian has made an exciting discovery of rare Roman coins at a South Lakeland caravan park.

John Harrison, 60, uncovered a hoard of 30 ancient Barbarous Radiates coins, thought to date back to 250AD, while walking with his metal detector at Holgates Caravan Park, near Arnside.

Experts described the find as ‘historically significant’.

Mr Harrison, from Carnforth, also found 10 bronze Roman trumpet brooches – dating back to between 75-150AD – at what he believes to be an ancient Roman worshipping ground.

He has spent decades searching for hidden treasure, mapping the north Lancashire area, and carrying out archaeological digs.

“I just find it awesome that this stuff has lain in the ground for centuries and I come along and find it,” he said.

“Because we have a lot of limestone on these sites, a lot of the pieces are really well preserved.

"They are in perfect condition, so I was really pleased.

“You get a picture of where the Romans were, and what they did here. It’s really exciting.”

Dot Boughton, finds liaison officer at Lancaster City Museum, said: “It is really quite significant because we don’t have that much material evid-ence up in Morecambe Bay.

“Third century coin hoards are not very common here at all.

“You have to be very lucky to find treasure in the North West, and excavating is a really difficult, time-consuming business.

"We really need these small finds to piece together a picture of Roman Cumbria.

“It seems that Morecambe Bay was quite a prolific area for trading and there were quite a few votive sites.

“It looks as though the coins were hidden as a votive offering to the gods and the discovery of the brooches adds to that theory.”

Officials from The British Museum, where the coins are currently being listed, were unable to speculate on the value of the artefacts, but Mrs Boughton said the Radiates coins could fetch up to £300.

An inquest will be held to investigate whether the coins officially qualify as ‘treasure’ and, if so, they will be valued by the Independent Treasure Valuation Committee.

The coins are thought to date back to the fall of the Roman Empire and were commonly used as small change during the third century.

Holgates Caravan Park owner Michael Holgate said the artefacts would be offered to Kendal Museum for display as part of its local history collection.

“This is a really exciting find for John and the site,” he said.

“It’s great to know that local history is being discovered and preserved in this way.”

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