THREE metal detectorists - including a Canvey man - have discovered more than 150 ancient Roman coins, which are expected to fetch tens of thousands at auction.

Robert Abbot, owner of computer shop Canvey PC, alongside Mick Rae, 63, and Dave Allen, 59, discovered a total of 161 coins, comprising silver siliqua and miliarense dating from AD 340-402.

The trio, who have over 90 years detecting experience between them, made the unlikely discovery during a camping weekend in Wiltshire.

The collection of coins is now expected to sell in the region of £30,000 to £40,000 by specialist Coin, Medal and Jewellery auctioneers Noonans.

Echo: Robert Abbot, 53, from CanveyRobert Abbot, 53, from Canvey

Robert, 53, from Canvey, said the rare discovery occurred over two days in September 2020, just after the first Covid lockdown had finished.

He said: “Having finished breakfast first, I turned on my machine, a Minelab Equinox 800, and having walked around six paces from the tent, I found several tent pegs and just under the surface a late Roman silver siliqua in pristine condition.

“A few moments later beside it, I found another one.”

Robert’s find prompted Mick, from Wiltshire and Dave, also from Essex, to eagerly grab their detectors and assist in the search Robert added: “Ironically, we had been camping there two weeks previous for a week-long detecting outing.

“What we hadn’t realised is we’d actually camped right on top of the area where the coins were found.

“We are looking forward to the forthcoming auction but at the moment, we have no idea how we will spend the money.”

The British Museum has also studied the coins and is keeping two for its collection.

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Nigel Mills, consultant (artefacts and antiquities) at Noonans said: “The hoard was buried at a time when Roman rule in Britain under the Emperor Honorius was no longer viable with the army being recalled to protect other provinces.

“In AD 410 Britain was told to protect itself by Honorius.

“As a result Britain has become a treasure island of late 4th century and early 5th century gold and silver Roman coin and jewellery hoards as the local population buried their valuables and then fell victim to Saxon raids.”