May 1, 2014 – The end of the Tartan Heart Festival 2009 on the Belladrum Estate in North Scotland, near Inverness, brought to light the first hoard of Roman coins discovered in that area. While taking down the festival tents, Eric Soane used a metal detector to search for iron pegs. He didn’t just find the missing pegs but also discovered several Roman denari and reported the find to the authorities. In 2012, an archaeological excavation by the National Museum of Scotland finally took place, led by Dr Fraser Hunter. The excavation dug up two coin hoards, only meters away from each other, assistant curator Cait MacCullagh from the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery tells us.
Two denari of the Roman coin hoard. © Inverness Museum and Art Gallery.
One of the hoards, presumably buried after AD 141 in a container made of not very durable material, was made up of 36 denari from the mid-2nd century AD, spanning a time from Domitian to Antoninus Pius.
The second hoard, found very close nearby, consisted of 20 coins from the 14th century. It is possible that the landscape had an easily identifiable feature which led to the spot being chosen by different people 1200 years apart as a hiding place for their money. The excavations also located an ancient settlement near the find spot.
Due to growing cultural exchange between Romans and local aristocrats, the coins may have travelled far north and across the border in the mid-2nd century and were then given away as gifts by Celtic chiefs.
The coins have been on exhibition in the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery since summer 2013. Further archaeological excavations are to discover more detailed information about the history of settlement in this area in the future.
This BBC news article reports on the find.
Find out more about the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery.
For more information about the Belladrum Festival, check out this website of the Tartan Heart Festival.
You can watch the highlights of the 2009 festival in this video.