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Name:  Dorchester Hoard
Brief biography:  A hoard of 22,121 Roman silver coins found in Dorchester on 11th May 1936.

The Dorchester Hoard was one of the largest coin hoards found in the UK, it consisted of 22,121 silver coins, of which the Barber Institute possesses 88 through the collection of Geoffrey Haines.

The hoard itself was discovered by a builder in May 1936 at the rear of 48 South Street in Dorchester during the redevelopment of the Marks and Spencer shop there. It was discovered in a pit in what turned out to be the garden of a Roman villa. The contents were divided between a one-handled bronze jug, a bronze basin and a wooden keg with bronze clasps, of which most of the wood from the latter had disintegrated.

The terminus post quem for this hoard is 257, just before the debasement of the Roman silver coinage. It is probable, therefore, that this hoard represented a cache buried to protect the more valuable older and purer coins to be recovered once the economy had recovered. It is unlikely to represent an army chest – being in peaceful Dorchester and not near a known army garrison – and unlikely to be a third century offering hoard given the urban location and size of the vessels.

The hoard was analysed by Harold Mattingley in a detailed article for the Numismatic Chronicle and is included in Anne Robertson’s inventory of Romano-British hoards.

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