Enthusiast digs up hoard of 1,700-year-old silver from field

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Stephen Auker with some of the coins Stephen Auker with some of the coins

A charity fundraiser who recently took up metal detecting shrugged off his novice status to pull off a major archaeological discovery.

Stephen Auker, 57, found dozens of ancient silver Roman coins at a site in Riddlesden.

They are all more than 1,700 years old and date from the time of Roman emperors such as Hadrian, Trajan and Marcus Aurelius. They have already been named ‘The Riddlesden Hoard’, but have still to be valued.

Mr Auker, who lives in Riddlesden, Keighley, said he felt “incredibly lucky”. He only started metal detecting as a new hobby just before Christmas, after previously dedicating much of his time to running in aid of Cancer Research UK.

After buying a detector he started searching for items he could sell to continue raising cash for charity.

He said and his wife went to an area of Riddlesden where he had permission to conduct metal detecting.

“I swept the field as we walked and dug up a couple of signals which turned out to be scrap,” he said. “Then, when I was nearly back to the car I dug another target – which after breaking down the clods of soil, revealed a Roman silver denarius.

“I suspected it was Roman but as I’d never found one before I photographed it and messaged the image to a friend. Within five minutes he came back and informed me I had actually found two denarii. Looking carefully I could see there were two fused together.”

The following day, Mr Auker returned to the same site and found more Roman coins.

He contacted the authorities who organised an emergency excavation by a team of volunteers. This uncovered a further 25 coins – 101 silver Roman denarii have now been found at this site.

“The find has been officially recorded and the first option to purchase them will be by The British Museum,” he said.

“If they don’t want them they will be offered to Bradford Museums to purchase and display at Cliffe Castle Museum, Keighley.

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