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When I was reading the Chapter on the Roman era in Mrs Bowes book ‘Walking Through the Centuries’, I was interested to learn that – “During excavations for hard-core by the Iron Stone Corporation near Hornton, a Roman Pot containing three hundred Roman bronze coins was found at Ragnell Bottom. They are now in the Ashmolean.”
That set me off on an internet search journey to find out more. First e-mail to the Ashmolean – Roman coins and Hornton didn’t register anywhere, so I started ‘googling’ ‘Roman coins found in Oxfordshire’. Amazingly this turned up a catalogue by a collector and trader in Wales who had a booklet named ‘A HOARD OF ROMAN FOLLES FROM WROXTON HEATH, NEAR BANBURY, OXON’ – price £1. Success! I was now being introduced into the world of Numismatics and the booklet had a story –
“In the spring of 1950 mechanical diggers belonging to the Oxfordshire Ironstone Co.Ltd., were removing topsoil to expose ironstone strata near Rignall House Wroxton. After a Sunday of heavy rain Mr J.Eadon, an employee of the company, discovered a hoard of Roman coins lying in a small pocket of earth. A scatter of Roman pottery and burnt ironstone for several hundred yards around the site of the hoard suggests there might have been some sort of settlement there. No pottery, however, was found with the hoard, which may therefore have been buried in a cloth. Altogether 136 coins were handed over to Mr A. Mackay, a director of the Company, who kindly arranged, after consultation with Trinity College, Oxford (the owner of the land), that the hoard should be deposited for examination in the Ashmolean Museum.”
The coins were catalogued by a C.H.V.Sutherland and the results printed in the ‘Numismatic Chronicle in 1955. They were folles (now called nummi) – small bronze coins with a silver wash of not much more than a centimetre in diameter, minted in the 4th century A.D. and all listed with the name of the Roman top man and where they were made – London, France and Italy.
Now I had this information, I got in touch again with Mr Volker Heuchert, a Collections Manager, who very kindly searched the archives, found eight coins all from the London Mint, then photographed and emailed them to me. And so I began looking into more about Roman coins and the history of the Romans in Britain. By this time they had been governing Britain for three hundred years and the coins portrayed several emperors of the time, the most well known to us being Constantine. The population was termed Romano-British. The technical evaluation of the coins suggested they had been buried about 317-18 A.D. and collected over a period of ten years by this person who lived or worked on the Wroxton Heath side of the brook which forms the boundary (I think) with Hornton along Ragnell Bottom. It was a ‘modest’ hoard, probably the savings of – who knows – a Romano-British farmer or an old soldier with his own ironstone business? - But the story brings out an individual from history, which makes the find all that more interesting.
The History Group has the coin details if anyone is interested and we would welcome anyone who might have memories of the time to tell us more.