All posts by MetalDetecting

Treasure stuff from Dio Cassius – Roman Gold Rings

“As the Boii and the rest of the Gauls were continually offering for sale many articles and an especially large number of captives, the Romans became afraid that they might some day use the money against them, and accordingly forbade everybody to give to a Gaul either silver or gold coin.”

“The matter of the gold rings is as follows. Of the ancient Romans no one,—not to mention such as had once been slaves,—who had grown up as a free citizen even, was allowed to wear gold rings, save senators and knights,—as has been stated. Therefore they are given to those freedmen whom the man in power may select; although they may use gold in other ways, this is still an additional honor and distinguishes them as superior, or as capable, through having been freed, of becoming knights.”

“In this way Dacia became subject to Rome and Trajan founded cities there. The treasures of Decebalus were also discovered, though hidden beneath the Sargetia river, which ran past his palace. He had made some captives divert the course of the river and had then excavated its bed. There he had placed a large amount of silver and of gold and other objects of great value, that could endure some moisture, had heaped stones over them and piled on earth. After that he had let the river flow over them. The same captives were compelled to deposit his robes and other similar objects in neighboring caves; and when he had effected this, he made away with them to prevent their talking. But Bicilis, a comrade of his, who knew what had been done, was seized and gave this information.”

From the books of Dio Cassius on Project Gutenberg.

Frome Hoard Fundraising – The 1st of February 2011 deadline draws closer

Somerset Museum in Taunton has until February 1, 2011 to raise the £320,250 purchase price of the Frome Hoard. On top of the purchase price, money also needs to be raised to cover the ongoing costs of conserving the 52,503 third century Roman coins, discovered by metal detectorist Dave Crisp. You can donate to the Frome Hoard campaign fund online via the Art Fund web site. Not only has the Art Fund already donated £40,250 to the Frome Hoard campaign fund, but they will match, pound for pound, donations by members of the public up to a total value of £10,000.

Another way of supporting the campaign to keep the Frome Hoard in Somerset is to buy the Frome Hoard book: The Frome Hoard by Sam Moorhead, Anna Booth and Roger Bland on, a snip at £4.49 delivered. 50p from every sale of the Frome Hoard book goes towards the campaign fund and the cost of conserving the coins. Worth every penny of the cover price for the stunning photographs of the coins of Carausius alone!

Thames and Field Mudlarking web site

Just been over to the new Thames and Field Mudlarking web site to find an email address for ‘larking legend Steve Brooker and stopped to check out their photo gallerys. Loads of very impressive finds on display, for example this 17th century trade token (about a third of the way down the page)!

[Links all dead, I will update if the site becomes available again]

Chris Rudd releases Celtic coin book (at long last!)

Chris Rudd releases Celtic coin book

At long last – Chris Rudd, one of the worlds foremost experts on British Celtic coins, has released a book, Ancient British Coins, here’s the blurb:

“Never before have so many ancient British coins been so easy to identify, so easy to study, so easy to enjoy. ABC catalogues 999 iron age coins, including 418 new types not shown by Van Arsdell in 1989. ABC describes and dates them, gives up to six references for each, estimates their rarity and shows every coin twice actual size, so that its distinctive differences can be seen at a glance. ABC took ten years to produce, has 256 fact-packed pages and contains 4000 superb coin photos, plus 500 other illustrations, diagrams, tables and maps.

ABC is a picture book, not a lecture book. “ABC is a remarkable achievement” says Prof. Miranda Aldhouse-Green. “It manages to combine scholarship and accessible information in a volume whose every page is interesting and whose writing style makes it fun to use.” ABC is a large hardback book (30 x 20 cm), light in style, heavy in weight (1.5 kgs) – “an indispensable aid to anyone wanting to identify British iron age coins” says Prof. Colin Haselgrove – worth every penny of its £75 plus postage. Buy ABC direct from Chris Rudd.

At £75 plus £10 postage and packing, it isn’t the cheapest book in the world, but when you consider that the next best guide is R. D. Van Arsdell’s book, which is out of print, (and will cost you at least £150 if you are lucky enough to find someone foolish enough to sell their copy) this book is going to be a fantastic investment for metal detectorists, coin collectors and archaeologists a like! And with Chris Rudd at the helm, you know the production values of this book will be fantastic! I haven’t been this excited about a book release in years!

Order Ancient British Coins by Chris Rudd on

Metal Detecting UK

Bronze Age hoard found below plough soil in Essex field (the Burnham hoard)

Bronze Age hoard found below plough soil in Essex field (the Burnham hoard)

A rare Bronze Age founders hoard, buried in a pot in an Essex field, has been excavated by archaeologists after being discovered by metal detectorists. The excavation was recorded by 360Production who uploaded the following video to YouTube:

Laura McLean, Finds Liaison Officer (FLO) for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, told the BBC that “This is a really exciting find and a good example of metal detectorists and archaeologists working together to uncover and record our history, making sure it is not lost forever”

Founders hoards are usually found scattered in the soil of ploughed fields, the vessel or bag they were originally buried in having perished in antiquity, to find one not only intact and in its original context, but also still in the pot, is highly unusual!

Well done to Mr J. Humphreys, the finder, and everybody else involved! Check out the story on the BBC website and the excavation video for further details.

Metal Detecting UK

Some very interesting Silbury Hill news

Some very interesting Silbury Hill news

Silbury Hill
At 37 metres (120 ft) high, Silbury Hill – which is part of the complex of Neolithic monuments around Avebury, which includes the Avebury Ring and West Kennet Long Barrow – is the tallest prehistoric human-made mound in Europe (Wikipedia)

BBC news reports that Silbury Hill may have been used as a fortification by the Anglo-Saxons. Anybody who has ever walked up the Silbury monument would agree that you would be hardpressed to find a more effective defensive position!

Metal Detecting UK

Auction Day Arrives – Christie’s Sale 5488, Lot 176: The Crosby Garrett Helmet

The Crosby Garrett Helmet at the Christie’s web site:
“Lot Description
Composed of two sections, helmet and mask; the tinned bronze face-mask with idealised youthful features, the openwork eyes with irises formed of delicate perforated rings, the upper and lower lids with incised lashes, the eyebrows arching from the bridge of the nose to the hairline with incised herringbone detail, the nostrils pierced, the fleshy lips slightly parted, with filtrum indicated, the face framed by three rows of tight corkscrew curls, the individual strands finely incised, the lower edge with remains of iron rivets on either side, probably for attachment of a strap for fastening to the helmet; the bronze helmet in the form of a Phrygian-style cap, with curved tip, surmounted by a solid-cast griffin, on an integral base, seated on its haunches, with finely incised details of the fur and mane, an attachment loop on the back of the neck, his wings outstretched with incised feather detail, his right paw raised and resting on the rim of a fluted amphora, an oval recess below with pierced loop at the tip, the back edge of the cap delineated by a raised ridge, curling inwards at the corners, terminating in incised button finals and decorated with pairs of vertical lines bordered by tongues, a row of hair curls emerging from underneath, the back and sides of the cap decorated with five rosettes, with groups of punched dots at the tips of the petals, with narrow flaring neck-guard, pierced in the centre and left corner, the perimeter decorated with incised diagonal dashes and tongues, with original hinge for attachment to the face-mask, mounted 16 in. (40.7 cm.) high

Lot Notes

This remarkable cavalry parade helmet, with its enigmatic features, is one of only three that have been discovered in Britain complete with face-masks. The others being the Ribchester Helmet, found in 1796 and now in the British Museum, and the Newstead Helmet, in the Museum of Antiquities, Edinburgh, found circa 1905. The Crosby Garrett Helmet, found in Cumbria earlier this year is an extraordinary example of Roman metalwork at its zenith.

The Crosby Garrett Helmet sets itself apart by virtue of its beauty, workmanship and completeness, particularly the face-mask, which was found virtually intact. In addition, the remarkable Phrygian-style peak surmounted by its elaborate bronze griffin crest appears unprecedented. H. Russell Robinson, formerly the curator of the Royal Armouries, cites only one other fragmentary helmet found at Ostrov in Romania, dated to the second half of the 2nd Century A.D., in the form of a tall Phrygian cap. Representations of similar helmets can be found at the base of Trajan’s Column among the captured Dacian and Sarmatian armour (cf ., H.R. Robinson, The Armour of Imperial Rome, London 1975, pp. 134-135, pls. 409-410). The openwork eyes and facial features of the Crosby Garrett Helmet find their closest parallels with Robinson’s Cavalry Sports Type E helmets, and in particular with a helmet from Nola, in southern Italy, now in the British Museum, dated to the late 1st to early 2nd Century A.D., (ibid., p. 124, pl. 361). However, the rendering of the hair in large tight curls is comparable to that of the Belgrade mask, now in the Archaeological Museum in Belgrade, belonging to Cavalry Sports Type C, and dated to the 2nd Century A.D. (ibid. p. 115, pl. 326).

These helmets were not for combative use, but worn for hippika gymnasia, (cavalry sports events). The polished white-metal surface of the Crosby Garrett face-mask would have provided a striking contrast to the original golden-bronze colour of the hair and Phrygian cap. In addition, colourful streamers may have been attached to the rings along the back ridge and on the griffin crest. Arrian of Nicomedia, a Roman provincial governor under Hadrian, provides us with the only surviving contemporary source of information on cavalry sports events. He describes, in an appendix to his Ars Tactica, how the cavalrymen were divided into two teams which took turns to attack and defend. He suggests that the wearing of these helmets was a mark of rank or excellence in horsemanship. Participants would also carry a light, elaborately painted shield, and wear an embroidered tunic and possibly thigh-guards and greaves, all of which would contribute to the impressive spectacle. These events may well have accompanied religious festivals celebrated by the Roman army and were probably also put on for the benefit of visiting officials. The displays would have been intended to demonstrate the outstanding equestrian skill and marksmanship of the Roman soldier and the wealth of the great empire he represented.”

Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal – 24 Hours to Go!

Yep, I’m starting to sound like a broken record right? Donate online to the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal or get in touch with Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery here.

The totals on the JustGiving web site stand at £8,051.22 donated online, plus £2,045.22 Gift Aid plus supplement. So we are about £410 up on yesterday. Right now, unless Tullie House Museum have received some big offline donations, things don’t look so good.

Crunch Time for the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal – Just 48 Hours to Go!

Ok folks, it’s crunch time for the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal. In less than 48 hours, the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet will go under the auctioneers hammer at Christie’s in London. You can Donate online to the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal or you can get in touch with Tullie House Museum directly right here.

The total on the Just Giving web site now stands at £7,641.22 plus £1,954.96 Gift Aid plus supplement, lets see if we can get that total up even higher in the next 48 hours. So go and Donate online to the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal right now!

I don’t know how much Tullie House Museum has raised in offline donations, I couldn’t find any mention on their website.