Silver Science at Roman Baths

Some of the cleaned coins.

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Roman Baths will celebrate British Science Week with a special day focused on the science of the Beau Street Hoard. Silver Science, on 14 March from 2-6 pm, will take a closer look at how science has been uncovering the secrets of the Beau Street Hoard.

The event will feature metallurgy experts along with conservators from the British Museum, all of whom have worked on the hoard. There will be a chance to handle coins from the hoard and take part in fun family activities.

The first handful from the hoard which is now known to contain 17,500 coins.
The first handful from the hoard which is now known to contain 17,500 coins. Click to enlarge.

The Beau Street Hoard, found by archaeologists excavating in advance of development of the Gainsborough Hotel, is a collection of 17,577 Roman silver coins.

The University of Southampton’s Departments of Engineering Science and Archaeology worked together to X-ray the hoard prior to its conservation and discovered the coins had been buried in eight separate bags. A 3D print replica of one of the bags will be on display at the event.

Conservators then began their work and found that the coins had been sorted approximately by their silver content. The coins range in date between 32BC and 275 AD – a span of nearly 300 years!

Investigating the hoard helps to tell the story of the Roman Empire – with its fortunes hinted at through minted images on each coin.

The hoard lifted by crane ©Cotswold Archaeology
The hoard lifted by crane ©Cotswold Archaeology

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “The images on the coins are fascinating: they were the easiest way the Emperor had of communicating with his citizens, and therefore represent thousands of mini ‘state broadcasts’.”

This event is one of many funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund through a grant to Bath & North East Somerset Council enabling the public to learn more about the Hoard.

For more information please visit http://www.romanbaths.co.uk/beau-street-hoard.