A man in the UK found a 2,000-year-old Roman coin on the ground in a park while out litter-picking with his girlfriend.
Chris Lyon, 27, discovered the artifact from around 241 A.D. on July 5 at Carr Mill Dam in St Helens, Merseyside, while clearing rubbish with his girlfriend, Chelsea Marsden, 22.
Initially mistaking the silver coin for a euro, Chris pocketed it and returned home, but after cleaning the mystery object, he began to believe the eroding keepsake might be older than he had originally imagined.
And after Chris, a contractor, shared his unusual find on Facebook, history enthusiasts quickly pointed out the coin appeared to depict Gordian III—a Roman emperor who ruled England from 238 to 244 A.D.
Speaking the day after the discovery from his home in St Helens, Chris said: “I couldn’t believe what was in front of me. What breaks my mind is that the coin has been sat there for thousands of years and it has just been missed.
“I thought someone would have dug it up some time ago. It looked like a big 5p and it wasn’t even buried. It was just half in the ground.”
Upon first inspection, Chris thought he had found either a euro or an old Spanish peseta. Once he showed the artifact to his grandparents, they said they had never seen anything like that while on their holidays.
“If I had known what the coin was when I picked it up, I’d have spent more time having a look around,” Chris added.
The obverse of the 1,800-year-old coin portrays the side profile of Gordian III, the Roman Empire’s youngest-ever emperor, who was crowned at the tender age of 13 in 238 A.D.
On the reverse side, Apollo, the Roman god of the sun, music, and poetry, is depicted seated and holding a branch in his right hand while resting his left elbow on a lyre—a string instrument.
Gordian III presided over an empire stretching from the Middle East to England until 244 A.D. when he was killed in battle at just 19 years old.
The silver coin can fetch around 45 pounds (US$57) today at auction, but Chris has no plans on cashing in on his extraordinary find, and instead plans to keep it as a souvenir or donate it to the Sankey Canal and Restoration Society in Merseyside in recognition of their efforts in cleaning up the green spot.
Chris added: “There’s a lot of fly-tipping around Carr Mill Dam and me and my partner have been trying to help clear it recently. I only spotted it because Chelsea found a 50p in the same area a few weeks ago and we’ve been trying to one up each other ever since.
“We’re going to go back to the dam soon to see if there’s anything else lying around there. If there’s one coin, who’s to say there’s not a lot more from where it came from?”
Caters contributed to this report.