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Roman ingot found with a metal detector after 2000 years expected to fetch £20,000

An "very rare" Roman artefact which could be as much as 2000 years old is to be sold at auction later this year.

The large lead ingot was discovered in a field in the West Country last year.

A bricklayer from Devon was searching farmland using a metal detector when he unearthed the historic treasure.

It's expected to fetch around £20,000.

The artefact carries the inscribed names of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus

A piece of the past

38kg
weight of the lead ingot
2ft
length
£20k
expected to fetch at auction

The antique is inscribed with the names of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, who ruled as co-emperors between 161 and 169 AD.

It was likely made in a lead furnace close to a Roman settlement in Somerset, using material from a lead mine in the Mendip Hills, south of Bristol.

It's thought that somehow this block of lead became lost when it may have been on its way to Rome and has been buried in the earth ever since.

Jason Baker made the discovery using a metal detector last year. Credit: Jason Baker

It will be auctioned in March.

We are thrilled to be asked to handle an object which is so monumental and important to our understanding the extent of the Roman Empire across England.

The two foot long lead plaque reflects a time when Britain became defined as to how it is today by the Romans. The ingot is in spectacular condition and the lettering is still very crisp.

– Mr Charles Hanson, manager of Hansons Auctioneers

Roman England

The ingot was made at a time of monumental change for England - the reign of the co-emperors whose names adorn it ruled just after Hadrian, whose wall near the border with Scotland is still a landmark today.

By the time the Romans left Britain in 410AD they had given Britain new towns, plants, animals, a new religion and ways of reading and counting.

It's hoped the ingot will find its way to a museum, as it is the most original known example of its type.

A fragmented ingot is on display in the Museum of Somerset, while two others found in the 16th and 18th century have since become lost.

History has a magic and romance...

Before it was handled in 2016, I wonder who the Roman was who last touched it?

– Mr Charles Hanson, manager of Hansons Auctioneers

It will be sold on Wednesday 22 March and will carry a guide price of £12,000-18,000.

Auctioneers think it will attract worldwide interest.