Leicester archaeologist receives Golden Trowel

Posted by mjs76 at Apr 15, 2011 02:15 PM |
Magazine award for PhD student’s work uncovering hoard of Roman coins.

Congratulations to Anna Booth, currently studying for a PhD in our School of Archaeology and Ancient History, who has received a prestigious Golden Trowel award from Current Archaeology magazine.

Before starting her PhD last year, Anna worked for the Portable Antiquities Scheme as Finds Liaison Officer for Somerset, helping members of the public to report and identify archaeological finds. In April 2010 she was contacted by a metal detectorist who had uncovered some Roman coins in a field just outside Frome*, near Bath, and suspected there might be more.

A bit of careful digging revealed a Roman storage pot, absolutely packed with coins, which were carefully removed and catalogued – all 52,503 of them!

The coin-filled Roman pot, as it appeared when uncovered.

The coins all dated from about 253-293AD, the latter part of this period corresponding to the reign of Carausius, self-proclaimed emperor of Britain and Northern Gaul.

As previously documented on Newsblog, the Third Century saw the Roman Empire crumbling economically as well as politically. It was against this background that the naval commander Mausaeus Valerius Carausius declared his domain independent of Rome itself, declared himself Emperor of said domain and explicitly set about restoring the old Roman values which had been lost over previous decades.

One of Carausius’ most significant - and astute - moves was to mint fine coins with his name and image on them, replacing the old, poor-quality coins which were in circulation and thereby boosting his popularity among both soldiers and civilians. The Frome hoard incorporates the largest collection of Carausian coins ever found: more than 760 in all, including five extremely rare silver denarii.


Carausius was murdered by his Finance Minister in 293 and shortly afterwards Britain was once again governed from Rome. The implications of this find for our understanding of this fascinating, but little-known, period of independent British rule are enormous.

With Anna Booth’s help, the Frome hoard was catalogued, declared treasure and purchased by the Museum of Somerset. In acknowledgement of this work, Current Archaeology recently awarded Anna and her colleagues the 'Rescue Excavation of the Year' award at their Golden Trowel** awards ceremony.

A slim volume on the Frome Hoard, co-written by Anna, was published by the British Museum last October. She is currently researching the history and development in Britain of penannular brooches, a common type of early clothes fastener with a pin and a broken loop that was in use from the late Iron Age right through to the early Medieval period.

*Pronounced ‘Froom’, and most famous as the place where Jenson Button was born.

**Not to be confused with the Archaeological Institute of America's Golden Trowel Award or indeed the "most prestigious and sought after award in the concrete flooring industry."

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