Bath has just acquired a new Roman treasure – thanks to corporate and public support and now match- funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Beau Street Hoard – a hidden collection of 17,577 Roman coins – came to light in the foundations of the old city hospital – now being transformed into the new 5-star Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel.
The coins were discovered in November 2007 in Beau Street about 150 metres from the Roman Baths.
They were hidden in a stone-lined pit under the floor of what looks like a Roman bath-house in eight decaying pouches made of animal skin.
They cover a span of at least 300 years dating to 270 AD. The earliest coin – carrying the image of Mark Anthony – has been dated to 32 BC.
The hoard is an important find – archaeologically and historically – and has the potential to develop an understanding of life in Roman Bath and beyond.
They will be displayed as part of a new layout in a room at the Roman Baths Museum dedicated to finds in ‘Aquae Sulis’.
The funding will also enable an extensive programme of learning and community activities centred on the hoard.
Stephen Clews spoke to the Virtual Museum after last night’s gathering in the Pump Room.
Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “We’re overjoyed to receive this grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund which shows their support towards Bath & North East Somerset Council’s bid to acquire and conserve the Beau Street Hoard and ensure that it remains in public ownership locally for everyone to appreciate.
“We are tremendously grateful to everybody who has helped raise the funds required for this ambitious project – which will enable people to enjoy their cultural heritage and increase local learning opportunities right across Bath and North East Somerset.”
Officers and councillors from Bath & North East Somerset Council have worked closely with members of the local community involved in the project; including Genesis Trust, Roman Baths Focus Group, Norton Radstock University of the 3rd Age, Bath Spa University, and the deputy head of St John’s C of E Primary School, Midsomer Norton.
Nerys Watts, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said: “The Beau Street Hoard is such an exciting discovery and this project will help everyone develop a better understanding of one of the most fascinating periods in the history of Bath. We’re proud to be funding these well thought out plans that will save the collection and ensure that the coins are held locally meaning that people from the surrounding community – as well as visitors from further afield – can learn about and enjoy them long into the future.”