Hungry badger leads archaeologists to ‘exceptional’ Roman coin trove in old cave

A hungry badger has led archaeologists to what has been described as an “exceptional find” of Roman coins.

The trove of 209 coins, dating from between the third and fifth century AD, were spotted just a few feet away from a badger’s den in the forests of Grado in the Spanish region of Asturias.

Researchers believe that the blanket of snow which covered vast swaths of the country as part of Storm Filomena forced the animal to step up its foraging efforts to find food.

This in turn caused it to prod at a small crack near its den in the hopes of uncovering berries or worms.

Archaeologist Alfonso Fanjul Peraza told Spanish newspaper El País, that it appears the badger instead hit on a stockpile of worn Roman coins, forged in places as far away as Constantinople (modern day Istanbul in Turkey) and Thessaloniki in Greece.

The badger found no use for the old coins and abandoned some of the pieces in front of its den.

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Fanjul added: “The accumulation of significant finds could – with caution – be seen as a response to the intense conflict experienced in the border territory.”

Most of the coins are made of copper and bronze and the largest, weighing more than eight grams and containing 4% silver, is believed to have been forged in London.

The researchers said: “To date, this is the largest treasure trove of Roman coins found in a cave in northern Spain.”

This isn’t the first time that archaeologists have found treasure in these dense woodlands, as about 85 years ago, 14 gold coins dating to the reign of Constantine the Great were found in the area.

Researchers have speculated that the latest trove of coins were likely part of a larger haul that was hastily hidden in hopes of keeping them safe amid political and social instability.

The research project, funded by the cultural department of the province of Asturias, is in its first stage, with researchers hoping to return to the area to do more excavating.

Fanjul explained: “We want to know if it was a one-off hiding place or if there was a group of humans living there.”

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