Can you dig into a Roman coin puzzle?

Money matters: Matt Ball of the Harris Museum with the Roman coins
Money matters: Matt Ball of the Harris Museum with the Roman coins
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Who can solve the mystery of the Rossall Hoard?

Museum bosses area appealing to people on the Fylde coast to help them tell the full story of a treasure trove which is now going on display

Silver Roman coins from the Rossall Hoard or is it the Fleetwood Hoard. Museum bosses are uncertain

Silver Roman coins from the Rossall Hoard or is it the Fleetwood Hoard. Museum bosses are uncertain

The coins are Roman in origin and believed to date from the shadowy period after the legions left Britain to its own devices as the Roman empire declined.

They are known as the Rossall Hoard, but it is not actually clear that they are the original Rossall Hoard or perhaps a Fleetwood Hoard.

As part of its new Money Matters project, the Harris Museum & Art Gallery at Preston has been painstakingly researching its coin and notes collection, starting with its exciting coin hoards – including the mysterious collection of Roman coins.

The coins have just gone on display in the Discover Preston history gallery at the Harris Museum.

They were stored at Rossall Hall by the man who built Fleetwood, Sir Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood.

When he was made bankrupt, they were accidently sold under the name of a different hoard, the ‘Rossall Hoard’, which had been discovered in the Fylde area in 1840.

The Harris’ audience development officer Sam Mason said: “We know this because the hoard on display is made up from a different type of Roman coin – the silver siliqua - to the original Rossall Hoard.

“Where the Roman coins now in the gallery really came from and what happened to the real Rossall Hoard remains a mystery and we are hoping Gazette readers can help us solve the mystery of the origins of the coins on display and what happened to the real Rossall Hoard?

“The coins were donated to the Harris (or rather, the museum on Cross Street, later to become the Harris) in 1883 by Dr Charles Brown of Winckley Square.

“He inherited much of his father’s (Alderman Brown of Preston) antiquities collection, including the Rossall Hoard that is now on display in the gallery.

“Alderman Brown will have purchased the hoard at the auctions held at Rossall Hall in 1844 (Rossall Hall later became Rossall School). So it has been in our collection for about 130 years.”

She added that the coins were a fascinating insight into the use of money during the dying days of Roman Britain,

They think that they were probably buried by about 450AD – forty years after the Romans left, when the use of coins was dying out,

Any information can be sent to Matt Ball at the Harris care of harris.museum@preston.gov.uk 01772 258248

Visitors can find out more about the Rossall Hoard at a free talk on Wednesday, January 14, from 12.30-1pm.