Iron Age Gold from Leicestershire Vicki Priest) Patrick Clay and] D Hill
A hiHtop in southeast Leicestershire has produced over 3000 Iron Age and Roman Republican gold and silver coins~ along \\lith a ROlllan cavalry helillet of iron with decorated silver-gilt cladding. The coins, in fifteen discrete hoards, together form the largest group of Iron Age gold coins ever recorded properly in Britain. What was this site, and juSt how important was this hitherto obscure and neglected part of the East Midlands in the late Iron Age and Early Roman period?
The site, which cannot yet be named, was discovered in 2000 when a local group working for Leicestershire MuseLU11S' ComJ11lLl1iry Archaeology project fOlLl1d late Iron Age and Roman pottery on the surface of a ploughed field. The pottery was generaUy typical of rural Leicestershire, and did not suggest a place of great significance. However, when a member of the group, Ken Wallace, went back with a metal detector, he found over 200 Iron Age and Roman coins, including previously lLl1known issues. The site clearly needed further investigation.
Because of the potential threat from metal detecting and ploughing, English Heritage agreed to fund further fieldwalk:i.ng, metal-detecting and geophysical surveys, and trial trenching. These were carried Ollt in 200.1 by the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) with the help of the local archaeological group.
The magnetometer revealed ditch- and pit-like anomalies over eight hectares. Trial trenches confirmed that there was a Roman settlement dating from tile 3rd-4th centuries, but there were no feamres contemporary with tile coins. A tllrtller smaU 8m x 7m trench was dug over the area of the main concentrations of coins, although no geophysical anomalies had been apparent.
ImJ11ediately beneath the topsoil several discrete hoards ofIron Age and Roman republican coins were found, along with a ditch and other features. Within the small area of the trench, it was unclear whether aU of the coin hoards and associated features had been identified, and in view of the tlu·eat to the site if any coins remained, tile trench was enlarged.
Plan ~'hoJJJillg the linc of the ditch crm......ill!J the hill, with the entral1ce ill the centre. Ani1Jlfll b011es were outside to the right) coin hoards IlJerC inside to the left.
rA tJ ~ RomB' ~ features
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