England

Roman lead bar found near Wells could fetch £60,000

Roman lead pig ingot Image copyright Southern Detectorists Club
Image caption The Roman lead mining ingot is thought to date from AD 164

An ingot of Roman lead unearthed on a farm is expected to fetch up to £60,000 at auction.

Bricklayer Jason Baker, 31, from Plymouth, found the very rare bar, called a pig, near Wells.

The 2ft (60cm) ingot dates from AD 164 and is inscribed with the name of emperor Marcus Aurelius Armeniacus.

Auctioneers Bonhams said it was the only known pig found in the UK to survive from the Antonine period, the 2nd Century AD.

More on the Roman ingot auction, plus more Devon and Cornwall news

'Changed my life'

Four ingots bearing the same inscriptions are known to have been discovered, all found within 18 miles of Charterhouse in Mendip, Somerset - the supposed point of manufacture, said Bonhams.

Image copyright Southern Detectorists Club
Image caption Detectorist Jason Baker had been detecting for 18 months when he found the pig

The first two, found in the 16th and 18th Centuries, have since been lost.

The third, consisting of two fragments, is on display at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton.

Mr Baker has been metal detecting for two years when he found the pig on a rally with the Southern Detectorists Club.

He said: "Normally I find just a couple of Roman coins and that's normally a good day, so to find something like this has just changed my life.

"I knew I had found something because it was a really good signal. I dug down about two and a half feet and saw this thing with writing all over it. I didn't have a clue what it was.

"I was just happy to have found something, I don't do it for the money - I do it for discovering history."

Mr Baker added: "On the day when I found it me and the farmer had a chat. I said 'I found it on your land' and he agreed to go halves on the profits."

He has also agreed to give half of his profits to his friend Zack Littlejohn, who taught him "everything he knows" and has become a good friend, meaning the builder will only get a quarter of whatever it sells for.

Siobhan Quin, Bonhams' senior antiquities specialist, said the ingot was worth between £40,000 and £60,000.

"This is a wonderful discovery," she said.

"The Mendips were a major source of lead for the Romans who cast the metal into ingots for ease of transportation.

"Some lead was sent back to Rome and some used locally - the great bath at nearby Bath, for example, is lined with original Mendip lead."

The auction takes place at Bonhams in London on 30 November.

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