A haul of valuable coins issued by Roman general Mark Antony have been discovered in a Welsh field – more than 2,000 years after they were buried.
It comes as archaeologists claimed to have found a small Roman fort on Anglesey, North Wales, in what has been described as a “ground-breaking” discovery.
The coins – unearthed by two friends out walking – have been hailed by historians as “a significant find”.
Dr Richard Annear, 65, and John Player, 43, found the silver coins dating back to 31 BC buried in a field near the small village of Wick, South Wales.
Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Annear reported the find to curators who were able to lift a small pot containing the coins out of the ground.
A numismatist described the three Roman denarii coins as “worth tens of thousands of pounds”.
Mark Antony was a key ally of Julius Caesar and played a pivotal role in the growth of the Roman empire.
The powerful general engaged in a passionate affair with queen of Egypt Cleopatra after leaving his wife in Rome.
Their romance was made famous by Shakespeare’s 1602 play and later immortalised in the 1963 Hollywood movie Antony and Cleopatra, staring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
But the pair’s romance was short-lived and they both took their own lives after Antony lost the crucial Battle of Actium to Augustus – Rome’s first emperor.
The rare hoard took place just a mile from another historic find of 130 denarii 15 years ago.
Assistant keeper at the National Museum of Wales, Edward Besly, said: “Each coin represents about a day’s pay at the time, so the hoard represents a significant sum of money.”
“The hoard’s find spot is only a mile as the crow flies from that of another second century silver hoard found in 2000.
“Together the hoards point to a prosperous coin-using economy in the area in the middle of the second century.”
The three silver denarii were part of a 91-coin haul comprising of currency issued by Roman rulers spanning 200 years.
Currency dating back to the reigns of Emperor Nero, 54AD-68AD, and Marcus Aurelius, 161AD to 180AD, were also uncovered in the landmark find.
Senior Coroner Andrew Barkley ruled that the coins are “treasure trove” at Cardiff Coroner’s Court.
The items will now be taken to the Treasure Valuation Committee, in London, where they will be independently valued.
On Anglesey, experts have found what appears to be a small Roman fort on land near Cemlyn Bay and close to the Wylfa power station.
The ‘fortlet’ is thought to date back to the first century AD and is surrounded by a circular ditch which has not been seen anywhere else in Wales.
And the Gwynedd Archaelogical Trust says the discovery is particularly exciting because it is the first early Roman military site to be found on the island.
The conquest of Anglesey was famously described two thousand years ago in lurid detail by the Roman senator and historian Tacitus.
But until now, historians have searched in vain for any sign of forts and roads on the island, reports the Daily Post .
There are now hopes that this will lead to further discoveries on Anglesey.
Traditionally, Roman forts and fortlets are usually linked by roads a day’s march apart – pointing to the the possibility that there could be more in central Anglesey around 15 to 20 miles away.
The archaeologists were first alerted to the site by local aerial photographer and historian Mary Aris who had spotted a faint circular mark in crops on a low hill overlooking the Anglesey coastline.
As a result, the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust received grant funding from CADW to carry out a geophysical survey of the site.
David Hopewell, Senior Archaeologist for the Gwynedd Archaeolgical Trust, carried out the survey.
He said: “Fortlets are smaller versions of Roman forts and are often found at significant points on Roman roads or at lookout points.
“The results of the geophysical survey were unusually clear as they showed the unmistakable outline of a Roman fortlet and faint traces of rectangular buildings that are most probably barracks.”
The results will now be included in the fourth of Gwynedd Archaeological Trust’s winter lectures.
This will be delivered by Mr Hopewell on Wednesday December 2 at the Telford Centre, Menai Bridge.