Detectorists find Roman coins worth tens of thousands of pounds beneath Wiltshire campsite

Mick Rae, 63, who discovered a Roman hoard Credit: PA

Detectorists have found Roman coins worth tens of thousands of pounds beneath a campsite in Wiltshire.

Three metal detectorists have discovered Roman coins worth tens of thousands of pounds beneath a campsite in Wiltshire.

The group were staying in a field near Pewsey for a camping trip in September when they found the ancient currency.

They found 161 coins in total and 142 will go under the hammer on May 17. They are expected to be sold for between £30,000 and £40,000.

Robert Abbott, 53, first came across the hoard after turning on his metal detector following breakfast.

Dave Allen helped to dig up the Roman treasure found on the campsite Credit: PA/Noonans

The computer shop owner said: "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. 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."

Robert and his friends Mick Rae, 63, and David Allen, 59, started digging up dozens more coins after the initial discovery.

The group resorted to sorting them and collecting the coins in a washing up bowl as they had nowhere else to store them.

Some of the items included silver Roman siliqua and miliarense coins which are said to be about 1,600 years old.

The coins are believed to have been buried during the last years of the Roman Empire by people looking to protect their valuables from Saxon raids.

A total of 141 coins will now be sold at auction Credit: PA

The coins will go under the hammer at auctioneers Noonans in Mayfair, London later this month.

Nigel Mills, from 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."

The friends are keeping some of the coins that they found and the British Museum has studied the treasure - and is adding two to their collection.