Teenager’s discovery of Roman treasure trove delights experts

A stunning hoard of ancient silver, believed to have been used as bribes by Romans, was found with a metal detector by a teenager in Scotland.

The silver fragments were found in Dairsie, in the Scottish region of Fife, by David Hall in 2014. Hall was just 14 years old at the time of the find. In October, the trove will go on show for the first time at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Over 200 silver fragments were unearthed on the day of Hall’s find and another 200 fragments were subsequently found at the Dairsie site.


The silver fragments, which date from the late 3rd century A.D., are known as “hacksilver” because they were hacked from larger objects and converted into a form of raw silver bullion. The discovery is particularly noteworthy given Dairsie’s location beyond the Northern frontier of the ancient Roman Empire.

“When the hoard was buried in the later third century AD, Scotland was outside the Roman world,” explained Dr. Fraser Hunter, principal curator of Iron Age and Roman collections at the National Museum of Scotland, in a blog post. “But the Romans still maintained an interest in the area. A century earlier they’d been sending silver coins into Scotland as a form of bribery.”

Hunter notes that sending silver coins across the empire’s border was a form of “frontier diplomacy” as the Romans attempted to maintain peace with the tribes on the edge of their world. The policy, however, was thought to have ended in…

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