Monday, January 07, 2008

Amateur metal detector discovers unique finds

Above: The only lead curse on a Roman emperor ever found, with a Roman gold coin. The lead foil would be hung in a temple to enact the curse, which would be made with the impression of a coin. Photograph: Martin Godwin

Some 1,650 years ago someone was so comprehensively fed up with the state of the Roman empire that they committed an act of treason, blasphemy and probably criminal defacing of the coinage. They cursed the emperor Valens by hammering a coin with his image into lead, then folding the lead over his face.

Thousands of Roman cursing charms survive, scrawled on pieces of lead with a hole punched to hang them up. Many were found thrown into the hot springs in Bath, demanding revenge on those guilty of petty theft. However nothing as audacious as cursing an emperor has ever been found before. The battered scraps of metal discovered by Tom Redmayne, an amateur metal detector, in a muddy field in Lincolnshire are a unique find, but is just one of a torrent of 300,000 valuable, fascinating or downright weird object finds reported by amateurs in the 10 years since PAS was created.


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