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Norwich couple unearth valuable Roman coin hoard on Norfolk farm

PUBLISHED: 07:56 22 March 2018 | UPDATED: 11:50 22 March 2018

Metal detectorist Damon Pye who found some gold Roman coins.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Metal detectorist Damon Pye who found some gold Roman coins. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

It could be a story line straight out of the hit television series Detectorists.

Metal detectorist Damon Pye who found some gold Roman coins.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMetal detectorist Damon Pye who found some gold Roman coins. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

But instead of Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones in the leading roles, the stars of this show are Norwich residents Damon Pye and his wife Denise.

The couple recently made a significant Roman coin find on a farm in Norfolk - and what’s even more exciting is that further treasures could still lie buried at their top secret site.

The total hoard uncovered so far includes 52 Roman copper and brass coins, six gold aurei of Augustus coins and a gold quarter stater which is Iceni.

The gold coins date back to between 4BC and 7AD.

Metal detectorist Damon Pye who found some gold Roman coins.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMetal detectorist Damon Pye who found some gold Roman coins. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mr Pye, vice chair of the Norwich Detectors Club, said they had made the discovery over the period of a month on a farm within 15 miles of Norwich.

He said: “Roman gold coins are extremely rare and only a handful of finds have been made in East Anglia so to get six is quite something.”

It was the couple’s most significant find to date and they now face an agonising wait for the field to be harvested before they can resume their search at the end of summer.

“We may have discovered an unknown Roman site, possibly a shrine, and there could be more so it’s very exciting,” said Mr Pye.

Metal detectorist Damon Pye who found some gold Roman coins.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMetal detectorist Damon Pye who found some gold Roman coins. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“It’s terrible having to wait around like this and we can’t wait to get back to start searching again.”

He said depending on what they discovered when they returned, it could be necessary to get an archaeological team in to excavate further in the hope of determining if it is an unknown site of a Roman villa, temple or shrine.

Mr Pye, who is retiring after 27 years of running a watch and repair service in Norwich, said the value of the coins ran into “thousands of pounds”.

“The gold aurei of Augustus were highly valuable coins at the time and I suspect that they came from a dropped purse,” he said.

Metal detectorist Damon Pye who found some gold Roman coins.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMetal detectorist Damon Pye who found some gold Roman coins. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“It is possible that whoever owned them had been attracted to whatever Roman site was there.”

He said The British Museum in London had expressed an interest in buying the coins.

“If they don’t they will be sent back to the farmer and myself and we’ll look to auction them off and split the proceeds 50/50,” he said.

“But this is not something we do for the money, but rather for the glory in the club of making the best find.”

Lance (Toby Jones) and Andy (Mackenzie Crook) from Detectorists. Picture: Matt TillerLance (Toby Jones) and Andy (Mackenzie Crook) from Detectorists. Picture: Matt Tiller

Popularity of detecting on the rise

Television shows such as the Detectorists and the promotion of detecting has seen interest in the hobby grow over the years.

Damon Pye, vice chair of the Norwich Detectors Club, said they held promotional open days and around 1,000 people attended the last one in January.

“The Detectorists is very popular and it even got a Bafta,” he said. “Detecting definitely has grown in popularity over the years but the problem is that about every land owner or farmer who allows it has already got someone doing it.

“Many new starters find they have nowhere to go as it’s very difficult to find a spot.”

Detectorists is a British television show set in the fictional town of Danebury in northern Essex.

The plot revolves around the lives of Andy Stone and Lance Stater, members of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club.

It won a Bafta award at the 2015 British Academy Television Awards.

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