A metal detector enthusiast set for a £1million payday after discovering Britain’s largest ever collection of Roman coins yesterday vowed to continue his hobby.
Lucky Dave Crisp, 63, found the hoard of more than 52,000 coins, which date from the third century AD, buried in a field near Frome, Somerset.
Dedicated detector Dave had spent 22 years scouring acres of fields in Somerset and Wiltshire in search of treasure with modest success.
But he literally struck gold in April when he dug down a foot into the earth and found a huge well-preserved earthenware crock after picking up a slight ‘beep’.
A coroner yesterday officially declared the find treasure trove and it will now be valued by an independent panel of expert archaeologists.
The ruling means Dave will split the spoils, which experts believe will be around £1million with farmer Geoff Sheppard who owns the land where the coins were discovered.
Speaking after yesterday’s hearing at Somerset Magistrate’s Court, Grandfather-of-three Dave said the money ”didn’t really matter” and vowed to continue with his hobby.
He said: ”I’m over the moon. The money doesn’t really matter.
”Obviously it’s nice, but the significant thing for me is that I am the person who has made the biggest discovery of Roman coins ever found in Britain.”
Dave, an NHS chef, added: ”I will keep working until I retire next year and will definitely continue with my hobby – you don’t just stop a hobby.
”I have no idea what the haul is worth or what I’ll spend the cash on – maybe I’ll buy a new wok.
”People often compare metal detecting to trainspotting or say it’s a bit geeky. Well, it just goes to show.”
Dave, from Devizes, Wilts., whose previous finds include coins, artefacts and jewellery from the Celtic, Georgian, Saxon and Victorian eras. made the find on April 9 this year.
He found 62 coins scattered in the field, which he reported to the authorities, before returning for a second sweep.
On April 11, Dave unearthed the staggering haul of 52,503 coins stashed in a Roman pot.
Dave told yesterday’s inquest how he dug a foot beneath the surface after his metal detector emitted a ”funny signal”.
He dusted away the dirt and found the pot full of treasure which is thought to have lain undisturbed for 1,800 years.
Dave said: ”I sat down and started to dig around and pulled a bit of clay which was attached to a pot.
”At first I found a coin, then another, then another. Then I realised what I had stumbled across and I literally stood up and shouted ”I have found a haul.”
He alerted the finds liaison officer at Wiltshire, who then told the Somerset branch and a team of archaeologists were sent to study the site.
It was three days before they successfully extricated the pot, which weighed 160.01kg.
The find was then taken to the British museum, where experts spent ten weeks cleaning and analysing the hoard, which dates between 253 to 293 AD.
Dairy farmer Geoff, 57, who is in line for half the spoils, said: ”It’s still a complete shock.
”Obviously I was happy for Dave to search the field and still can’t really believe what was found.
”It’s enormously exciting, although we’re not sure what to do with the money. One things for sure though, we won’t be wasting it.”
Anna Booth, finds liaison officer at Somerset County Council, told the hearing that the hoard was probably an offering to the gods for ”favourable weather or good farming conditions.”
She said the pot was so heavy that whoever left it there must not have intended to return to collect the contents.
Since the discovery, experts from the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) at the British Museum have been sifting through the coins.
Sam Moorhead, from the PAS, said: ”I don’t believe myself that this is a hoard of coins intended for recovery.
”I think what you could see is a community of people who are actually making offerings and they are each pouring in their own contribution to a communal ritual votive offering to the gods.”
It is estimated the coins were worth about four years’ pay for a legionary soldier.
Experts believe the pot may have belonged to Carausius, who ruled Britain independently from AD 286 to AD 293, and was the first Roman emperor to strike coins in Britain.
A selection from the find is on display at Frome library, while the rest will be at the British Museum until mid-August.
The haul will be valued by an independent panel before being Somerset museum hopes to buy the haul.