POSSIBLY the largest Roman coin hoard ever to be found in Britain has been unearthed in Somerset.

Metal detector enthusiast Dave Crisp, from Wiltshire, came across the now named ‘Frome Hoard’ of over 50,000 coins during one of his regular metal detecting trips to the Frome area.

The third century coins were found in a large, well-preserved pot – a type of container normally used for storing food.

Dave said: “I have been metal detecting since 1988 and this hoard is the most exciting and important find that I have ever made."

Realising that he had found something important, Dave left the hoard where it was and notified Somerset County Council’s Portable Antiquities Scheme straight away.

Archaeologists then set about the delicate task of excavating the pot and its contents. The hoard was then taken to the British Museum, so that the coins could be cleaned and recorded.

“Leaving it in the ground for the archaeologists to excavate was a very hard decision to take, but as it had been there for 1800 years, I thought a few days more would not hurt. My family thought I was mad to walk away and leave it”, said Dave.

Geoff, the landowner, said: “I have always loved history but I never expected anything as important, exciting or old as this to be found on my land.”

The bronze coins range from the mid to late third century and include some unusual finds, including coins of the British usurper Carausius.

Discussions are well underway between Somerset County Council’s Heritage Service and the British Museum, and it has been agreed that subject to funding the hoard should stay in Somerset.

Stephen Minnitt, Head of Museums, said: “This is a find of great national importance. The finder and the landowner will be entitled to a reward and we are determined to raise the sum when it is agreed to retain the hoard in Somerset. Hopefully the coins will be able to go on display in the new Museum of Somerset when it re-opens in 2011.”