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Hoard of Iron Age coins found in Dovedale cave

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: July 07, 2014

  • Late Iron Age coins from the hoard found at Reynards Kitchen © Richard Davenport Photography

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A HOARD of 2,000-year-old treasure has been unearthed at a Derbyshire beauty spot.

Archaeologists discovered 26 coins and a Roman brooch during a cave excavation in Dovedale.

The discovery of Late Iron Age and Republican Roman coins at the Reynard’s Kitchen cave has excited historians, as it is believed to be the first time coins of this age have been found together.

The original find of just four coins was made by a climber, who was sheltering from a rain storm.

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The cave is situated just off the footpath between Dovedale and Milldale in the White Peak Estate, which has been in the care of the National Trust since the 1930s. The find led the trust to carry out a full excavation.

Rachael Hall was one of the National Trust archaeologists on the dig.

She said: “It was really exciting to be part of the team. We found 20 gold and silver coins from the late Iron Age and three Roman coins, which predate the invasion of Britain in AD43.”

The Iron Age coins have been attributed to the Corieltavi tribe – a group usually associated with areas further east such as Leicester, Sleaford and Lincoln.

Rachael said: “It’s interesting that this find is where it is in Derbyshire. Could this area have been a previously unknown power base?

“The coins would also suggest a serious amount of wealth ‘power’ of the individual who owned them.”

Coins were used as a symbol of power and status during the Iron Age, rather than for buying and selling. The archaeologists are now mulling over how the coins came to be in the cave.

Rachael said: “Was an individual simply hiding his ‘best stuff’ for safe keeping, or perhaps speculating, in the hope that the value would increase in the future, like a modern-day isa?”

The trust worked with the University of Leicester and the Defence Archaeology Group’s Operation Nightingale, which provides recuperation through archaeology for service personnel injured in conflict.

Operation Nightingale Sergeant Diarmaid Walshe said: “With the inherent skills of the soldier – an appreciation of landscape, topography and deposits in the ground – archaeology is a discipline that is perfect.

“Through projects like the excavation at Dovedale, we can help former service personnel to address their ailments and help in their recovery.”

Joanne Richardson, who spent 10 years in the military, said: “This was the first archaeological excavation I’ve ever taken part in and it was brilliant.

“I was working at the back of the cave, in the dark, and I was the first person to find a coin – a silver coin. It was so exciting and really helped to lift spirits after several fruitless days of hard graft.”

“The experience working alongside archaeologists and other veterans was inspiring.”

The coins have been cleaned by conservation specialists and will go on permanent display at Buxton Museum later this year.


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