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ARCHAEOLOGY

Hoard of Roman coins found in England

Ancient Roman coins unearthed in Bath, England.Cotswold Archaeology

One of the largest collections of Roman coins -- over 30,000 silver pieces -- has been recovered in England from the building site of a new hotel in Bath, just 450 feet from the historic Roman Baths.

Known as the Beau Street Hoard, from the street where they have been unearthed, the coins date to 270 A.D., a time of great upheaval when the western Roman empire was threatened by civil war and barbarian invasion.

Aware of the difficult times, the owner might have just decided to hide away the treasure.

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"In the crisis of the third century, Rome had 25 emperors in 50 years. It was a time of great unrest especially on the continent as the Empire came near to collapse," Stephen Clews, manager of the Roman Baths and Pump Room, told Discovery News.

"Britain was part of a breakaway western empire and although it seems to have been relatively peaceful, this hoard may reflect events unfolding in those troubled times," Clews said.

The archaeologists found thousands of coins fused together in a large block. This makes identification and counting the exact number very difficult.

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"Conservators at the British Museum are taking a whole year to do the work. There are believed to be more than 30,000 coins, making this one of the fifth largest hoards ever found in Britain and the largest from a Roman town," Clews said.

The coins are also the largest hoard ever found by a professional archaeologist -- Hazel O'Neill of Cotswold Archaeology.

An amateur using a metal detector actually discovered the largest collection of Roman coinage ever found in a single container -- 52,503 coins dating between 253 A.D. and 293 A.D.