It was his first time searching the field after gaining permission from the farmer which is at Wanstrow in Somerset close to a Roman road once used for transporting mined lead ore.
Using a second hand metal detector, a Nokta Fors Core which is manufactured in Turkey, he saw that the field had a curious unnatural shape to it. Detecting carefully in this spot he found a Roman brooch and several pieces of lead ore. Then at a depth of nearly a foot he discovered the gold coin. The find was then recorded on the portable antiquities database by the local finds liaison officer who realised it was the first one of this type to be found in Britain.
After having the coin returned, the finder and the land-owner agreed to auction it with DNW.
As DNW’s Antiquities specialist, Nigel Mills, explains: “The coin is a magnificent example of a gold Solidus minted in 313-5 at Trier, the capital of Gaul. This was a new denomination introduced by Constantine in 310. On the obverse is a laureate portrait of the emperor, which had been the tradition for over 300 years but was about to change with a new headband called a diadem in 324. For the first time there is a break in the legend above the Emperor’s head symbolising a clear path to heaven from Constantine. He also stopped using the old Roman pagan gods on the reverses of his coins.”
He continues: “On the reverse is an extremely rare portrayal of Constantine riding his horse in battle holding a spear and shield with two fallen enemy soldiers below. It commemorates his great victory over Maxentius at Milvian bridge outside Rome on 28th October 312. This is where Constantine adopted a new military standard of the Chi-Rho or Christogram - these are the first two letters in Greek for Christ “XP” hence the importance of this victory for Constantine and Christianity. The British Museum has a similar example in their collection but with different spacing in the reverse legend. No Solidus of Constantine with this reverse having sold for many years.”
Flavius Valerius Constantine was born AD 272. He accompanied his father the western Emperor Constantius I to Britain in a hard fought campaign against the Picts in northern Britain. At Eboracum (York) on the 25th July AD 306 Constantius died from ill health and the soldiers proclaimed Constantine as their leader. He at first took the junior rank of Caesar to avoid conflict with the other rulers of the Roman tetrarchy, and he accepted the joint title of Augustus in 307, becoming sole ruler in 324 after deposing the eastern Roman emperor Licinius.
It was after the decisive victory over the usurper Maxentius at Milvian bridge that Constantine became supportive of the Christian religion with his edict of Milan in 313.
Towards the end of his reign Constantine founded the new capital of Constantinople in 330. He was baptised on his deathbed on May 21st 337.