A hoard of some of the rarest Roman coins ever discovered in Wiltshire has gone on display at the Athelstan Museum in Malmesbury, writes Chris Roberts.

The 1,266 copper-alloy Roman coins were discovered in a broken earthenware pot in a farmer’s field in Milbourne in 2012 by local metal detectorist, Tony Mims – known as Mimzy.

They are now being displayed at the Athelstan Museum together with the pot in which they were found.

Mimzy said: “There were two pots. One had been hit by the plough and was decapitated, but 80% of the coins were still in there. All the rest were scattered underneath I didn’t know the exact amount at the time, but guessed that there were going to be over 1,000 coins.”

The former Army veteran and retired HGV driver wrapped it in his waterproof coat and took it to Chippenham Museum where it was officially declared treasure.

This means that the find has a historical value and the Treasury can put a financial value on it.

“It was not as much as people think,” explained Mimzy.

“It wasn’t a fortune. However, I don’t go metal detecting for the money. I’m a genuine lover of history.

"The hoard, where it was found and the other items found on the site give us clues to the past, which I find fascinating.”

The coins, which are rare for the Malmesbury area, are unusual in that they are late Roman (from the fourth century) and were minted in eight cities across Croatia, England, France, Germany and Italy over a very short period of 20 years. They carry the faces of a number of Emperors such as Allectus, Constantine, Licinius and Maximianus

The Museum used fundraising and grants from the Heritage Lottery Foundation, the Art Fund, the Malmesbury Area Board, the V&A Purchase Grant and the Headley Trust to acquire the treasure in 2015 in order to keep it in Malmesbury.

It has taken a group of volunteers led by trained archaeologist and trustee, Maria Marsh, seven years to professionally conserve, catalogue and research the hoard. In total, the project has cost in the region of £50,000 and members of the community also contributed towards the cost.

The hoard was unveiled to the public on Friday, April 8 after specialists built an environment-controlled display cabinet to showcase it.

Maria said: “It’s amazing to see the coins all together with the original pot on display in the museum at last – just a few miles away from where they were originally found.

"People can come in and see their hoard. It belongs to the town and it brings Roman history alive for the local community.”

For more information about the Museum, visit: athelstanmuseum.org.uk