Hundreds of ancient Roman coins were found near a badger’s den inside of La Cuesta cave in the northern part of Spain (specifically in the municipality of Grado in the region of Asturias). It is believed that the animal uncovered the coins while searching for food by digging at a crack near its den.
The coins were later found by a local resident named Roberto García who then contacted archaeologists regarding his discovery. In an interview with CNN, dig director Alfonso Fanjul stated that the badger had dug up over 90 coins. After they excavated the area, they found a total of 209 coins that date back between 200 and 400 AD – this was during the Late Roman Period when barbarians came to the Iberian Peninsula.
Described by researchers as being an “exceptional find”, the majority of the coins were made of bronze and copper. The biggest coin was made of 4% silver and weighed over eight grams – it is believed to have been forged in London. Some of the other coins would have been forged in locations as far as Thessaloniki (a city in Greece) and Constantinople (an ancient city in modern-day Turkey that is currently named Istanbul).
This is certainly a very significant discovery as it is the biggest hoard of Roman coins that has ever been found in a Spanish cave. It is believed that the newly discovered coins may have been part of a much larger hoard that was once hidden away for safety reasons as Fanjul noted, “We think it's a reflection of the social and political instability which came along with the fall of Rome and the arrival of groups of barbarians to northern Spain.”
The coins are being cleaned up and will be put on display for the public to view at the Archaeological Museum of Asturias. Pictures of the coins can be seen here.
The researchers are planning on returning to the location to conduct further excavations and perhaps they will find even more treasures. “We want to know if it was a one-off hiding place or if there was a group of humans living there,” Fanjul said. A paper on the discovery can be read in full here.