Digger driver wins share of 3,339 Roman coins he found levelling a hockey pitch
Mark Copsey, 44, is entitled to a third of their worth after they were declared treasure under the Treasure Act
Roman coins found by bulldozer driver Mark Copsey while working on a Yeovil Recreation Ground in Somerset Photo: British Museum/SWNS
By Agency1:29PM GMT 28 Jan 2016Comments2 Comments
A JCB driver who dug up 3,000 rare Roman coins which he put in a carrier bag will be able to keep the cash despite colleagues claiming it was a team find.
Mark Copsey, 44, was levelling a recreation ground for a hockey pitch when he spotted something in the soil.
Roman coins found by bulldozer driver Mark Copsey
Roman coins found by Mark Copsey Photo: SWNS
He found a collection of 3,339 silver coins carrying depictions of an elephant and a hippopotamus buried around 270AD.
Mr Copsey immediately scooped them up and put them in a plastic carrier bag - and an inquest has ruled he will now be entitled to a third of their value.
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One of his workmates claimed it was a team find but coroner Tony Williams ruled at the hearing in Taunton in Somerset that Mr Copsey alone was the finder.
Yeovil Recreation Ground where Mark Copsey found over 3,000 Roman coins
Yeovil Recreation Ground where Mark Copsey found over 3,000 Roman coins Photo: SWNS
He declared the find to be treasure under the Treasure Act and Mr Copsey will now be entitled to a third of their worth.
"When I'm driving it's a health and safety rule to look behind me as well, that's how I spotted them."
Mr Copsey, from Clare, Suffolk, put the coins in a carrier bag and then telephoned local museums from the worksite to find out who to report the discovery to.
In written evidence he said: "I was stripping subsoil to the rock and was on an eight by ten metres strip to clear the second-to-final strip when I looked behind me and noticed a green colour in the soil.
"I stopped my machine and got out and investigated and discovered a broken pot with some sort of coins."
Speaking after the hearing he said finding the coins was "brilliant."
He added; "When I found the hoard I did everything I could to act correctly and do everything above board.
"When I'm driving it's a health and safety rule to look behind me as well, that's how I spotted them.
"The 'dozer took the top off the pot before I knew it was there, I'm afraid it'll do that every time.
"I'm still working on archaeological digs with the 'dozers so hopefully I might find some more."
Bulldozer driver Mark Copsey
Bulldozer driver Mark Copsey Photo: Western Daily Press / SWNS
The hoard was buried on the edge of a settlement which had lain unknown under Yeovil Recreation Ground in Somerset - where Ian Botham played as a boy with his dad.
Lorry driver Colin Parnell had also been on the site, some yards away and saw Mr Copsey stop his vehicle and examine the ground.
He heard Mr Copsey say he thought he had found some coins and Mr Parnell argued that the discovery therefore was a team find - but his claim was dismissed.
Experts say the coins were made during a time of inflation and their discovery triggered an archaeological investigation that revealed a small Roman settlement.
Steve Minnit(L), head of museums at the South West Heritage Trust chats with bulldozer driver Mark Copsey and historic environment officer Steve Membury (R)
Steve Minnit (L), head of museums at the South West Heritage Trust chats with bulldozer driver Mark Copsey and historic environment officer Steve Membury (R) Photo: Western Daily Press / SWNS Group
Steve Minnitt, head of museums at South West Heritage Trust was informed and Steve Membury, the trust's senior historic environment officer, immediately went to the site.
The hoard was sent to the British Museum of analysis.
Experts established that the coins were from the 2nd-3rd centuries AD, with 164 being dinarii, (ok) four brass sestertii, and the rest radiates.
The museum's laboratory found that some coins had been stacked and carefully bound in textile, and string, some of which remained.
Some of the coins carried the heads of empresses, and others emperors, including Philip I, born in Syria of a Syrian father, around 204AD.
The hoard is currently still at the British Museum.
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Mr Minnitt said South West Heritage Trust would like to acquire it to display at the Museum of Somerset and would also give the people of Yeovil an opportunity to see it.
First it must be valued by an independent treasure valuation committee.
The recommendations will be given to Mr Copsey, the landowner, South Somerset District Council, and the Heritage Trust, who can contest the valuation.
Once the cost is agreed Mr Minnitt will have three months to find the money to buy it.
The finder and landowner are entitled to an equal share of the market value.
Mr Minnitt said: "Mr Copsey acted absolutely correctly, reporting the discovery immediately enabling a proper archaeological investigation which means we have much more information about the find. We're very pleased."