Award winning treasure found in Wing was used by Roman criminals

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AN AMATEUR archaeologist from Aylesbury has been given a national award after uncovering a coin press which may have been used to make counterfeit currency in Roman times.

Tom Clarke, who has been metal detecting for more than 40 years, found a number of blank bronze coins and a small anvil in a farmer’s field in Wing.

The unmarked discs are the halfway stage of someone making their own coins and have been dated to around 300AD.

The find, which Tom has donated to the Bucks County Museum, won him the ‘most significant hoard’ category in the Nations’ Greatest Find competition, run by The Searcher magazine.

He was presented with his award in a ceremony on Monday.

Tom, a 72-year-old retired trader, said: “I have always been interested in antiquities ever since I was a kid.

“I’ve made countless finds over the years but this is the first time I’ve ever been given an award.

“Something like this is good for the museum.

“I like to think it could be someone who was making illegal coins and being a bit naughty.

“For me it’s the thrill of the find. I’ve never made any money from my metal detecting.

“If you find gold then you have to hand it in and they pay you a small amount because it’s treasure.

“But I’ve never sold anything.”

Brett Thorne, one of the museum archaeologists, said: “Due to a shortage of official coins at this time many people started making their own.

“In many cases they were probably tolerated by the authorities.

“The values we are talking about are minimal.

“If they were making silver coins it would be different.”

At the ceremony Mr Phillips said: “Today we see a great example of a partnership between four very different groups, an individual metal detective, the County Museum, the National Portable Antiquities Scheme and the Searcher.”

Bucks County Council cabinet member Martin Phillips thanked Tom for his generosity in donating the find to the museum and congratulated the museum workers in identifying the significance and importance of the find.