The ‘Helmsley hoard’ of Roman coins was found (not surprisingly) in Helmsley in 1931, though the precise location is now uncertain.
It comprises 34 silver Roman denarii which closed not much later than AD 218, the date of the latest coin. This is not a hoard of immense value, being perhaps about a month’s pay for a Roman legionary. Roman coinage was badly depreciated during the 3rd Century, which meant that the earlier, good-value silver coins tended to be hoarded.
Describing the collection as “quite unusual and really lovely”, numismatist Dr Andy Woods spoke about Roman coins in general and the hoard in particular at the last meeting of the Helmsley Archaeological and Historical Society.
Perhaps an obvious point, but one which had not occurred to me before (nor indeed to those listing the advantages of Roman rule in Monty Python’s The Life of Brian – refresh your memory of their list here), is that Roman coinage set an example which has been followed ever since, all over the world: the coins are round(ish), engraved on both side, usually with the portrait of the ruler, and some legend describing his or her virtues in a recognised shorthand. Out of my purse comes a random one pound coin: Elizabeth II D(ei) G(ratia) REG(ina) F(idei) D(efensatrix) – Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen and Defender of the Faith. Not so far removed from one of the Helmsley coins: P(ublius) SEPT(imus) GETA CAES(ar) PONT(ifex) – Publius Septimus Geta, Emperor and High Priest.
The Frank Collection of Roman coins came to The Helmsley Archive from the late Richard Frank, has been fully catalogued and photographed, and can now be viewed in full on the Helmsley Archive website.