Shapwick Hoard

The Shapwick Hoard is a hoard of 9,262 Roman coins found at Shapwick, Somerset, England in September 1998. The coins dated from as early as 31–30 BC up until 224 AD.[1] The hoard also notably contained two rare coins which had not been discovered in Britain before,[2] and the largest number of silver denarii ever found in Britain.[3][4]

Shapwick Hoard
Coins from the Shapwick Hoard on display at the Museum of Somerset
Size9,262 coins
DiscoveredShapwick, Somerset by Kevin and Martin Elliott in September 1998
Present locationSomerset County Museum, Taunton
Identification1998–99 Fig 294.1–9; 2000 Fig 251

Discovery, excavation and valuation

The hoard was discovered by cousins Kevin and Martin Elliott,[5] who were amateur metal detectorists, in a field at Shapwick. Excavation of the site found that it had been "buried in the corner of a room of a previously unknown Roman building" and, after further excavation and geophysical surveying, "revealed the room to be part of a courtyard villa".[6]

Following a treasure inquest at Taunton, the hoard was declared treasure and valued at £265,000. Somerset County Museum Services acquired the hoard, with the aid of Somerset County Council, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and other organisations, and it is now displayed at the Museum of Somerset in the grounds of Taunton Castle.[7]

An addendum to the discovery was filed in the Treasure Annual Report 2000 which added a further 23 coins, valued at £690, also found by Kevin and Martin Elliott.[4][8]

Items discovered

Notable inclusions in the hoard were 260 coins from the reign of Mark Antony from 31–30 BC, with over half the coins being struck in the reign of Septimius Severus (193–211).[1] There were also two rare coins not discovered in Britain before depicting Manlia Scantilla, the wife of Didius Julianus, an emperor who was murdered four weeks after the coins were struck.[2] Non-Roman coins included were three Lycian drachmae and one drachma of Caesarea in Cappadocia.[1] The latest coin struck was in 224 AD, and it is estimated that the hoard as a whole represented ten years' pay for a Roman legionary.[9]

ReignDate№ of coins
Mark Antony31 BC260
Antoninus Pius138–161567
Marcus Aurelius161–180171
Septimius Severus193–2115,741
Severus Alexander222–235120

Other hoards

Shapwick has been the site of various hoard discoveries over the years, although the 1998 find was by far the largest.

  • In 1868, fourteen coins from 306–361 were found in the Shapwick turbary and given to Glastonbury Museum in 1948.[10]
  • Between 1936 and 1938, four hoards were found in close proximity to each other:[11]
    • Hoard A: a pewter cup, containing a pottery beaker of 120 mid-fourth to early-fifth century silver siliquae, along with a pewter saucer and platter
    • Hoard B: a pottery beaker inside a pewter jug containing 125 silver siliquae from the same era as Hoard A
    • Hoard C: a pewter canister containing around 1,170 bronze coins from 320–390, mostly of Valentinian dynasty (364–375)
    • Hoard D: a bronze cased wooden stave tankard; a pewter bowl with pedestal; a bronze bowl. Estimated late fourth century
  • In 1978, over 1,000 copper coins from 305–423 were found in a pewter vessel.[12]

See also


  1. "Table 2". Archived from the original on 23 April 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  2. "Roman Coin Cache Discovered". Archaeological Institute of America. Archived from the original on 15 July 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  3. "Gold coin hoard unveiled". BBC. Archived from the original on 12 February 2009. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  4. "Treasure Annual Report 1998–1999" (PDF). Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2000. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  5. Abdy, R.; Brunning, Richard; Webster, C.J. (2001). "The discovery of a Roman villa at Shapwick and its Severan coin hoard of 9238 silver denarii". Journal of Roman Archaeology. doi:10.1017/S1047759400019991.
  6. "Excavation (1999), Roman villa, N of Shapwick". Somerset Historic Environment Record. Somerset County Council. Archived from the original on 3 October 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  7. "Shapwick Hoard by Various artists". Art Fund. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  8. "Treasure Annual Report 2000" (PDF). Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
  9. Rees, Elizabeth (2003). Celtic Sites and Their Saints: A Guidebook. Bloomsbury. p. 171. ISBN 9781441113443.
  10. "Monument no. 194188". Pastscape. English Heritage. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  11. "Monument no. 193944". Pastscape. English Heritage. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  12. "Monument no. 911618". Pastscape. English Heritage. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
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