Are Roman Finds Treasure Trove?

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Byline: By Bryn Littleton

A roman farce unfolded at a North-East court yesterday as two amateur archaeologists made their bids to keep a haul of "treasure" which could be worth just a few pounds.

The two County Durham metal detector enthusiasts were told their separate discoveries of six Roman coins and a Roman "golden loop" would have to be sent for testing at the British Museum before they would be allowed to keep them.

Both were surprised as they estimate the hauls were only worth around pounds 10.

However, under Treasure Trove laws the items may be claimed by the Queen if they are deemed to be over 300 years old or contain more than 10pc of a precious metal.

Yesterday, two inquests which will decide whether the artefacts will be seized by the Crown were opened and adjourned at Bishop Auckland Magistrates' Court.

Alan Luton, 57, of Fishburn, Sedgefield, uncovered six silver Roman coins over a period of 10 years which led to a major excavation from TV's Time Team. Mr Luton has uncovered around 200 coins in total at the site on the outskirts of Sedgefield, but faces losing a haul of six if they are deemed to be over 300 years old or contain more than 10pc of a precious metal.

His discoveries sparked the interest of Time Team's production team last year and they unearthed a major Roman industrial area where pottery and glassware were produced - thought to be the only site of its kind north of the River Tees. …