Ipswich men find Roman treasure trove

FOR nearly 2,000 years a treasure trove of Roman coins lay hidden just below the surface of an Ipswich field.But today around 1,000 coins are being examined at the British Museum after being unearthed by two metal detecting enthusiasts.

FOR nearly 2,000 years a treasure trove of Roman coins lay hidden just below the surface of an Ipswich field.

But today around 1,000 coins are being examined at the British Museum after being unearthed by two metal detecting enthusiasts.

After Suffolk had thundered to the sound of the Roman legions, the coins lay undisturbed through two world wars, invasions of the Saxons and Vikings and the reigns of numerous kings and queens.

And all it took to unearth them was two men from Chantry with a metal detector.

Rick Talman and Chris Roper could not believe their eyes when they uncovered more than one thousand of the bronze and silver coins in a field just outside the town.

For security purposes the location where the treasure trove was discovered is being kept secret.

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Mr Talman, 40, of Coltsfoot Road was detecting alone when he came across the first find.

He said: "When I found the start of them I was just messing about really.

"We had done three corners of the field and I went to do the fourth and stumbled over them - they were right on the top.

"I found 82 on the first day and they were just scattered everywhere.

"I was just stunned but because I was on my own I couldn't really do anything. If Chris had been there I would probably have run round the field a few times."

When he realised the extent of the find Mr Talman contacted his brother-in-law Chris Roper.

Mr Roper, 41, of Lavender Hill, said: "I managed to get the next day off work and we went back and found about 670 altogether.

"We have been doing this for about ten years and have found a few coins and brooches before but nothing on this scale.

"We took it up as a hobby and because of an interest in history."

After another day's digging the men had found a total of 1,013 coins believed to date back to the third century, a time of great unrest.

Mr Talman added: "We had to inform the Suffolk Archaeology Unit. They think they were buried in a case and not a pot because there are nails everywhere and no pottery."

Mr Roper said: "They were sent on to the British Museum to be recorded, they go to the coroner first and he sends them on. They are going to stabilise them to stop them deteriorating and if no museums are interested we will get them back. Otherwise they will pay the market value for them."

The value of the coins is not known but Mr Roper said they are unlikely to reach a high value as they are not particularly rare.

Have you had an interesting find? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

Scratch the surface of East Anglia and you never know what hidden treasures you might uncover.

As Mr Talman and Mr Roper's find demonstrates, there are a wealth of exciting discoveries and insights in to another world just waiting to be unearthed.

East Anglia's rich Roman history is a metal detector's dream and has thrown up some of the country's most notable hoards of treasure.

Invaded by the Emperor Claudius in 43AD, Colchester was Britain's first Roman city, but the Roman settlements spread throughout the region during the Roman era, which lasted until 409AD.

East Anglia was also the home of Boadicea, queen of the Iceni tribe, who attempted an uprising against the Romans in 60AD.

Her troops destroyed the cities of Colchester and St Albans but she was eventually defeated by the Romans.

One of the country's first big Roman hoards to be discovered was the Mildenhall Treasure. Discovered by ploughman Gordon Butcher and his boss Sydney Ford in 1943, the treasure included bowls, dishes and spoons.

Another big Suffolk find was the Hoxne Hoard - unearthed in a field near Eye. Metal detecting fan Eric Lawes discovered the collection of more than 14,700 gold and silver coins, along with 200 other items ranging from jewellery to ladles and spears, in 1992.

Other more recent finds in this area include 13 Roman coins which were dug up in a field to the east of Bury St Edmunds in March 2003.

The area immediately surrounding Ipswich is also steeped in Roman history.

The Castle Hill area is known to be the site of a large Roman villa and in April 2003 TV's Time Team, led by Tony Robinson, helped school children learn more.

They carried out digs in eight gardens in Tranmere Grove and found various walls and evidence of underfloor heating.

There is also evidence of a boundary bank around 1,000 years old between Stoke and Belstead and it is known that there were Roman settlements near Coddenham and Baylham.

In the late 1960s, five gold torcs (necklaces of twisted gold) were found in the Stoke Park area suggesting the presence of wealthy Ipswich inhabitants in the first century BC.

There is also evidence of a Roman settlement in the area around Handford Road where coins, pottery and other items have been found.

Suffolk also has a rich history of Anglo-Saxon discoveries, the biggest of which was the excavation of the Sutton Hoo burial mounds in the 1930s.

The mounds were the burial sites of the kings of East Anglia and a wealth of treasures were uncovered including the famous Sutton Hoo helmet.