'Muddy Hoard' of coins goes on display


25 October 2023
A hoard of more than 9000 Roman coins has gone on display at the Norris Museum, St Ives, Cambridgeshire. The unveiling of what is known as the ‘Muddy Hoard’ took place during the museum’s Heritage Open Days in September, and its display will run for at least six months.

Comprising a total of 9274 coins, the hoard, dating from AD 251–74, contains material spread across the reigns of 14 emperors and one empress, and it includes several rare values, including two denarii of Gallienus and a previously unrecorded denarius of Tetricus I.

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The rest of the coins are ‘radiates’, the main denomination from the later Roman period, and an unusually high proportion of locally minted coins (known as ‘barbarous radiates’) compared to similar hoards. All the coins were made of base metal and were probably hidden in the time of turmoil in the wake of the breakaway of the ‘Gallic Empire’ in the 3rd century.

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The hoard was discovered about nine miles north of Huntingdon by a metal detectorist in May 2018 and declared treasure in November 2021. After an initial scatter of coins was reported to the local Finds Liaison Officer (as per best practice), the remaining hoard, in two pottery vessels (one inside the other), was excavated by the officer and an expert from the British Museum as part of the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Claire Hardy, director of the Norris Museum, said that it was ‘by far the most significant acquisition’ ever made by the museum. While the coins are being exhibited, the museum will be fundraising for its permanent display in its main gallery.