The Romans are Here!
14 March 2013
The people of Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, discovered what the Romans did for them on a recent visit to Cardiff University's conservation department.
Gavin Evans, Curator at Carmarthenshire County Museum took a group from Laugharne to visit the laboratories at the University to see how a hoard of Roman coins from the township are being cleaned by the conservators in the Department of Archaeology and Conservation.
Phil Parkes, Senior Conservator at the University said 'Cleaning over 1,000 coins in just 2 months to meet a funding deadline has been a challenge, but conservation of these coins to reveal the detail lying beneath the corrosion will benefit both academic research and the general public. The conserved coins can now be fully catalogued by finds specialists at the National Museum Cardiff before being displayed at Carmarthenshire County Museum for visitors to see.'
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Phil Parkes explaining the role of analysis in conservation, showing visitors the scanning electron microscope.
This exciting project is part of the Romans in Carmarthenshire project funded by CADW. Project Manager, Lisa Bancroft said ‘Carmarthenshire was a vitally important part of Roman Britain, and the Empire, this project is bringing to life the personal stories of the Celts and the Romans in the area. Soon there will be a self-guide trail to the 5 projects involved so everyone can be a Roman or a Celt for the day.’
The ‘Romans in Carmarthenshire’ is a CADW Heritage Tourism Project which has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. It will include projects at the Dolaucothi Gold mines, Y Pigwn Marching Camps and Garn Coch Hillfort and will feature The Laugharne Hoard, a new museum exhibition at Abergwili and interpretation at the Carmarthen Roman Ampitheatre and tourist trail. Romans in Carmarthenshire is being led by the National Trust and delivered in partnership with Carmarthenshire County Council and Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.
Phil Parkes, Senior Conservator at the University is in charge of the project to clean 1,055 of the 2,366 Roman Imperial coins which form the Laugharne Hoard and were discovered near the township in May 2006.
Coins after cleaning
This work is necessary to allow Edward Besley, coin expert at the National Museum Cardiff to study them in detail. The latest coin identified so far is one of the famous usurper emperor Carausius (286/7-93) which was struck at the London mint around 291.
The Roman Empire was torn apart by civil wars and assaulted by barbarian invasions at this period. Many Romans chose to bury their wealth to keep it safe for happier times. We can’t know what prompted the Laugharne hoard’s owner to bury his stash, but some great threat obviously worried him.
Coins before & after cleaning
Photographs of the Group from Laugharne at Cardiff University
Nadia Tsatsouli shows visitors the conservation treatment being carried out on the coins.
Visitors examining conserved coins under the microscope.