Roman coins found by metal detectorists while camping in Wiltshire could fetch £40,000 at auction

The 142 coins are thought to be more than 500 years old. Credit: Noonans

More than 100 Roman silver coins, discovered by a group of metal detectorists while camping in Wiltshire, could fetch up to £40,000 at auction.

The coins, which are thought to be more than 500 years old, will go under the hammer at Noonans in London at 11am on Tuesday, May 17.

The hoard was discovered by three metal detectorists, with more than 90 years experience between them, in September 2020.

The hoard of 142 coins were found by Mick Rae, a 63-year-old herds manager, Robert Abbott, 53, who owns a computer shop and Dave Allen, 59, a carpenter.

Robert Abbott said: "Having finished breakfast first, I turned on my machine, a Minelab Equinox 800, and having walked around six paces from the tent, I found several tent pegs and just under the surface a late Roman silver siliqua in pristine condition.

"A few moments later beside it, I found another one!"

Mick couldn't believe what he had found while camping. Credit: Rob Abbott

Over the course of the weekend they found 161 coins in total, comprising silver siliqua and miliarense dating from AD 340-402.

They had to keep them in their camping washing-up bowl as they did not have anything else to store them in.

Robert added: "Ironically, we had been camping there two weeks previous for a week-long detecting outing.

"What we hadn't realised is we'd actually camped right on top of the area where the coins were found!

"Unbelievably I don't actually have any photographs of myself finding any coins.

"I think everyone else was too excited to be taking pictures!

"We are looking forward to the forthcoming auction but at the moment, we have no idea how we will spend the money."

The coins were in mint condition despite their age. Credit: Noonans

Nigel Mills, Consultant (Artefacts and Antiquities) at Noonans, said:"Virtually all of the coins are in mint condition and have not even needed to be cleaned since their discovery.

"The hoard was buried at a time when Roman rule in Britain under the Emperor Honorius was no longer viable with the army being recalled to protect other provinces. In AD 410 Britain was told to protect itself by Honorius.

"As a result Britain has become a treasure island of late 4th century and early 5th century gold and silver Roman coin and jewellery hoards as the local population buried their valuables and then fell victim to Saxon raids.

"Detector finds in recent years include the Thetford and Hoxne hoards."

The British Museum has studied the coins and is retaining two coins for their collection from the hoard.