A charity fundraiser from Keighley who only recently took up metal detecting is already celebrating a major archaeological discovery.
Stephen Auker, 57, has struck gold... well, silver to be precise!
He has discovered dozens of silver Roman coins at a site in Riddlesden, the precise location of which is being kept secret.
The coins are all more than 1,700 years old, and date from the time of famed Roman emperors such as Hadrian, Trajan and Marcus Aurelius. They have already been named ‘The Riddlesden Hoard’, but have still to be valued.
Mr Auker, who lives in Riddlesden, said he felt “incredibly lucky”. He only decided to take up metal detecting as a new hobby just before Christmas, after previously dedicating much of his time to running in aid of Cancer Research UK.
After buying a detector, he set about searching for items he could sell to continue raising cash for charity.
He said he and his wife went to a location in Riddlesden, where he had permission to conduct metal detecting.
“I swept the field as we walked and dug up a couple of signals, which turned out to be scrap,” he said. “Then, when I was nearly back to the car, I dug another target, which, after breaking down the little clods of soil, revealed a Roman silver denarius.
“I suspected it was Roman, but as I’d never found one before, I photographed it and messaged the image to a friend. Within five minutes he came back and informed me I had actually found two denarii. Looking carefully, I could see there were two fused together.”
The following day, Mr Auker returned to the same site and began uncovering more and more Roman coins.
He contacted the authorities, who organised an emergency team of volunteers. This uncovered another 25 coins, and a total of 101 silver Roman denarii have now been found at this site.
“The find has been officially recorded, and the first option to purchase them will be by The British Museum,” he said.
“If it doesn’t want them, they will be offered to Bradford Museums to purchase and display at Cliffe Castle Museum in Keighley.
“My future metal detecting may never be as exciting as this experience, but I can’t wait to get back out there!”