As archaeologists were digging through Reynard's Kitchen Cave at Dovedale Valley in England, they discovered a bunch of buried coins, which was bizarre to them. Such coins were previously found in other parts of Britain, but this was the first time they were found buried in a cave in this region.
According to Ian Leins, the curator of Iron Age and Roman coins at the British Museum, the discovery yielded 20 Iron Age coins, three Roman coins, and three coins from much later eras. These coins belonged to the Corieltauvi tribe - a collection of smaller tribes, mostly agricultural and fairly unwarlike - who lived in Britain prior to the Roman conquest, but Reynard's Kitchen Cave is outside the tribe's old turf.
A similar discovery occurred in 2000 when nearly 5,000 Corieltauvi coins were found in Leicestershire. Although archaeologists are unsure how the Iron Age coins were used, it is believed they were for storing wealth, given as gifts, or offered as sacrifice, but not used as money to purchase items. The estimated modern day value of the coins is around $3,400 because they qualify as "treasure" under the United Kingdom's 1996 Treasure Act.
"Coins were used more as a symbol of power and status during the Late Iron Age, rather than for buying and selling staple foods and supplies," said National Trust archaeologist Rachael Hall, in this Daily Mail article. "Was an individual simply hiding his 'best stuff' for safe keeping? Or, perhaps speculating, in the hope that the value would increase in the future, like a modern-day ISA?"
A climber who sought shelter in Reynard's Kitchen Cave was the first to discover the existence of the coins in the area after uncovering four of them. When others became aware of it, the National Trust and Operation Nightingale issued a full-scale excavation of the site and found 22 more coins. The British Museum noted that it was not unusual to find a number of different coins amongst each other, because it was common (and still is) for coins from earlier time periods to circulate with newer ones.
Conservation specialists at the British Museum and University College London have cleaned the 26 coins, which will go on permanent display at the Buxton Museum later this year. You can read more about the Corieltauvi coin discovery in this Live Science article.