A treasure trove of Late Iron Age and Republican Roman coins is to go on display at a Buxton museum after being unearthed at a Peak District cave.
The discovery at Reynard’s Kitchen Cave in Dovedale is thought to be the first time coins of these two origins have been found buried together in a cave in Britain.
Experts say the find is significant because not only is it unusual to find Late Iron Age gold coins, but to unearth them within a cave setting adds to the mystery surrounding them.
An initial discovery of four coins was made by a local climber while sheltering in the cave during heavy rain, prompting the National Trust to carry out a full excavation.
“In total we found 26 coins, including three Roman coins which pre-date the invasion of Britain in AD 43,” explained National Trust archaeologist, Rachael Hall.
“Twenty other gold and silver coins are Late Iron Age and attributed to the Corieltavi tribe. The tribe is more usually associated with occupying areas further east during the Late Iron Age.
“We may never know why the coins were buried here but this discovery places a dot on the map for Late Iron Age Derbyshire. It adds a new layer to what we are discovering about Late Iron Age activity, especially the Corieltavi tribe. We hope to generate a lively debate and invite people to tell us their thoughts on the discovery.”
British Museum’s curator of Iron Age and Roman coins, Ian Leins, said: “Although this is a much smaller hoard than the similar finds made at Hallaton in 2000, this has been declared treasure and is an exciting discovery given the puzzling location in a cave and the fact that it lies beyond the main circulation area of the coinage.”
The National Trust worked with the University of Leicester Archaeology Service and, for the first time, the Defence Archaeology Group’s Operation Nightingale which provides recuperation through field archaeology for service personnel injured in the conflict in Afghanistan and other areas of operations.
Operation Nightingale’s 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 for service personnel.
“Through projects like the excavation at Dovedale, archaeology can help former service personnel to address their ailments and help in their recovery.”
The coins have been cleaned by conservation specialists at the British Museum and University College London and will go on permanent display at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery later this year.
One other significant find included a decorated Roman ‘Aesica’-type brooch, circa mid-first century AD.