Coins from the Hoxne hoard

Roman Britain, buried in the 5th century AD
Found in Hoxne, Suffolk (1992)

Money from the richest find of treasure from Roman Britain

This celebrated treasure was unearthed in 1992. It contained many types of precious objects, buried for safety at a time when Britain was passing out of Roman control. Jewellery and a variety of precious tableware and even silver toothpicks were found alongside the approximately 15,000 gold, silver and bronze coins.

The find was a complete accident, since the finder was actually looking for his friend's hammer! Archaeologists were called in to excavate the find, and this was done so carefully that they could record the way the objects were packed inside their wooden box (which had long since rotted away). Even some fragments of textile and decorative bone were found - it is amazing to think that they could have survived more than 1,500 years.

565 of the coins are gold solidi, but the majority (14,191) are silver, of a variety of denominations, but 99% are siliquae - the main silver piece of the Late Roman Empire. The siliquae of fifteen different emperors are represented, from Constantine II (reigned AD 337-40) to Constantine III (reigned AD 407-8). Constantine III was in fact a usurper, proclaimed emperor by the soldiers in Britain. He left the island to challenge the official emperors, and Roman authority in Britain quickly broke down. The hoard must have been buried for safekeeping sometime after AD 407, during difficult times for the Romano-British, who were left without any help from the Empire to defend themselves from the attacks of the barbarians. However, we will never know the exact reasons for the burial.

Twenty-four of the coins were bronze nummi and one might imagine this as small change from the hoarder's purse, thrown in as an afterthought just before he buried the treasure chest, never to return.

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Coins from the Hoxne hoard

Coins from the Hoxne hoard Hoxne, Suffolk, 5th century AD

  • Front

    Front

  • Silver tigress

    Silver tigress

  • 'Empress' pepper pot

    'Empress' pepper pot

 

More information

Bibliography

R. Bland and C.M. Johns, The Hoxne Treasure, an illustr (London, The British Museum Press, 1993)

C.M. Johns and R. Bland, 'The Hoxne late Roman treasure', Britannia, 25 (1994), pp. 165-73

R.A. Abdy, Romano-British coin hoards (Princes Risborough, Shire Publications, 2002)

Dimensions

Weight: 4.400 g (gold solidus)
Weight: 4.400 g (gold solidus)
Weight: 4.400 g (gold solidus)

Museum number

P&EE 1994-4-1;P&EE 1994.4-8.1-400

CGR181597;CGR181632;CGR181714;CGR182153;BCB90800

Treasure Trove, acquired with the aid of major grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the National Art Collections Fund, the J. Paul Getty Trust, The British Museum Friends, the Goldsmiths Charitable Trust, Lloyds Private Banking, and many donations by private individuals

Location

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