Roman treasure goes on display

A small hoard of silver Roman coins will be put on temporary exhibition at the City Museum. The five coins, of the Emperors Constantius II and Julian, date from the middle of the 4th century AD. They were found in a pile, in a deposit that had formed over derelict Roman buildings on the site of Silchester Place, Hyde Street.

The term siliqua is the modern name given to small, thin, Roman silver coins produced from 4th century and later.  The coins would have been quite valuable in their day, although it is difficult to be exact, because of fluctuating prices in the 4th century, but a siliqua might have bought around 10lbs of pork, 80 loaves of bread, 2 pints of olive oil or 8 pints of wine. The 6th century Emperor Justinian reckoned to feed a Roman soldier in Egypt for a year on the equivalent of about 120 siliquae.

Curator of Archaeology for Winchester City Council's museums service Helen Rees confesses to be puzzled why such a small number of coins would have been hidden in this way, "Perhaps someone lost their purse, or maybe the coins were buried for good luck as we would now throw coins in a fountain. If so, it was rather expensive good luck!"

Cllr Patricia Stallard, Winchester City Council's portfolio holder for culture, heritage and sport, said, "I am pleased that Winchester people will have an opportunity to see these coins.  We cannot display everything in our extensive collections, but we do like to show people the latest finds and I am sure this acquisition will be of interest."

The coins will be on display at the City Museum from 31 October 2006 to 31 of January 2007.

For more information, ring Winchester Museums on 01962 848 269