One of Britain’s rarest Roman gold coins has been found by a man using a metal detector at a secret location in Kent.
Only a few coins of the early 5,h cen¬tury emperor Jovinus are known to exist, and this is the first time that a coin of his has been found in Britain. About the size of a modern 10 pence piece, the gold coin, known as a solidus, would probably have been dropped from the pocket of a wealthy Roman
I can’t believe this has happened to me,” he said. “I’m really chuffed. The coin was only three or four inches below the surface and when I uncovered it, it was perfect. It looks like it was minted yes¬terday. The definition is very clear and even though it’s been buried for over 1,000 years, it’s still really shiny.”
New Zealand-born Detective Con¬stable Malin said he loves history. “When I visit an old pub or a church, I am fascinated that these places have been around for centuries. I wish they could talk and tell their story. “My young nephew was given a metal detector and I was intrigued, so I bought one too. and I’ve found a few old pennies, an Elizabethan sixpence
“I found the gold coin after studying maps. I found a farm track that had obviously been there for centuries, so I thought it was worth a try. I never thought I would find something so important.” Mr. Malin registered his find at Maidstone County Hall and then set about researching its history, contacting Tom Eden, the specialist in Roman coins at London auctioneers Morton & Eden.
Tom Eden identified the coin as a gold solidus of Jovinus (AD 411 -413), and this was confirmed by the British Museum, who have an example acquired in the 19,h
The coin was auctioned at Morton & Eden’s sale in London on November 23, 2004, estimated at £5,000-7,000, although collectors may drive the price higher. The proceeds of the sale will be divided between Mr. Malin and the owner of the land on which the coin was found. A police officer before he emigrated to Britain in 1995, Mr. Malin and his wife, Sarah, and their two children, James (5) and Emma (3) are returning to live back in New Zealand later this year. “We plan to stop off in Florida on the way home, so we’ll take the children to Disneyland,” he said.
Explaining the historical context of the coin, Tom Eden said it dated from the period when the empire was in turmoil and the Romans were leaving Britain in the early 5lh century. Rome had been sacked, Spain and Britain had seceded under their own rulers and the Vandals were overrunning Northern Africa.
Jovinus was of noble Gallic decent and was proclaimed emperor by a bar¬barian coalition who seized Gaul (now France and Germany) during the reign of Honorius. Jovinus was helped in part by Athaulf, king of the Visigoths but when Jovinus promoted his brother Sebastian to the rank of Augustus, Athaulf turned against him and decimated his forces. The severed heads of Jovinus, Sebastian and a third brother, Sallust, were delivered to Honorius in Ravenna, Italy, on August 30, AD 413.