In Ueken, Aargau, Switzerland, an unnamed farmer set out to remove a pesky molehill from his cherry orchard. Little did he know he was about to unearth one of the biggest numismatic treasures ever found in Switzerland.
After digging up some green, but still shimmering coins, the farmer remembered a nearby archeological discovery from a few months earlier. Thinking the two may be related, he contacted the regional archaeological service. After months of digging at the site, archaeologists announced in November 2015 that 4,166 coins had been found at the site. They also claimed that the find had some unique characteristics.
Estimated to be around 1,700 years old, the coins are in surprisingly excellent condition. Despite all those years, the imprints on many of the coins have remained legible. Although a formal numismatic grade was not assigned, the coins could probably have an MS number between 8 and 20 on the Sheldon system. The coins are in such great condition, that experts agree they’ve never been circulated – the original owner must have stashed them right after they were made.
The coins include several unknown types, ranging from around the reign of Roman Emperor Aurelian (270-275 CE) to the rule of Emperor Maximian (286-305 CE). The “youngest” coins of the find were made in 294 CE. Some of them, made mostly of bronze alloy containing an unusually high amount of silver (5%), were found in small leather pouches.
The original value of the coins is lost to time, but historical experts think they were probably worth at least 1-2 years of wages. Unfortunately, the farmer who found them only received a finder’s fee, since Swiss law states that such found objects belong to the public. As for the coins, they will go on display at the Vindonissa Museum, in Brugg, Aargau, Switzerland. The mole – who surely did some of the work – will receive nothing.