EIGHTEEN silver coins discovered by metal detecting enthusiasts in County Durham have been confirmed as treasure, dating back almost 2,000 years.

The hoard, unearthed in the Sedgefield area between December 2014 and September last year, includes coins from the Roman period AD 81 to 161 and can be linked to the Emperors Domitian, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and the Empress Sabina.

At a treasure inquest at Crook Civic Centre yesterday (Friday), assistant County Durham and Darlington coroner Dr Leslie Hamilton concluded the hoard qualified as treasure under the Treasure Act 1996.

This is because the coins are more than 300 years old and have a precious metal content of at least ten per cent.

Dr Hamilton said the metal detecting group had taken the coins to Durham County Council’s archaeology section, where experts had established the age and metal content.

“I also have a report from the British Museum which confirms that the age and precious metal content of the coins qualify them as treasure,” he added.

Many of the coins are complete and some contain legible engravings.

These include depictions of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, advancing with a shield and javelin; Fortuna, the goddess of fortune, holding a rudder; Pax, the goddess of peace; a winged thunderbolt on a throne; Roma, a female deity who personified the city of Rome, seated above a shield; and Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, holding an apple and drawing her robe to her shoulder.

The names of Emperors and Empresses can also be made out on ten of the coins.

Sadly, the writing is illegible on some of the coins, as they are in fragments or missing segments.

A spokesperson from the British Museum said the coins were not believed to be especially rare, and it is not known whether they have any local significance.