The storm Filomena blanketed a large section of Spain with snow in 2021. While precipitation is not uncommon in Spain, the storm dumped unprecedented snow on the nation. It’s no surprise that a ravenous badger has trouble locating berries, earthworms, or insects to eat. He didn’t give up hope of finding a nice lunch. So he dug right near to its burrow within La Cuesta’s cave. Unfortunately for the badger, he didn’t find much to munch on other than a few bright coins he dispersed about the cave. However, he had no idea that he had stumbled onto the region’s greatest collection of Roman-era coins.
Roberto Garcia, a local, was the first to spot the money strewn around in front of the cave. He alerted a team of archeologists, who started excavations with the help of the Principality of Asturias’ Ministry of Culture. The investigation was overseen by Alfonso Fanjul, who reported that when his team arrived at the cave, the ground was littered with money. Even though the badger was nowhere to be located. They could locate his nest and discover that he had dug up roughly 90 pennies.
The team eventually discovered 209 Roman era coins dating from the third to fifth century A.D.
Copper and bronze coins make up the majority of the spectacular discovery. Unfortunately, the pieces have seen better days; most are worn, but there are exceptions, such as one of the three follies discovered, which is in excellent shape. It’s a bronze coin with a weight of 8 to 10 grams and a silver content of roughly 4%. Emperor Diocletian established the follis in 294, and this specific piece was coined in Roman London or Londinium. They came from the Roman era Empire’s furthest reaches, including Thessaloniki, London, Constantinople (now Istanbul), and Rome.
The coins originate from 430 A.D. when a tribe of Germanic people known as the Suebi entered Spain and drove away from the Romans. They went on to build the Kingdom of the Suebi in the northern part of Spain and Portugal. As a result, archeologists think the coins were concealing on purpose to keep them secure during this period of “political turmoil.”
It’s almost difficult to say who deposited the coins there or what happened to them. But future excavation of the cave might reveal more about what occurred there centuries ago.
Furthermore, Fanjul and his colleagues believe that there may be an even greater amount of coins in the cave and that the current discovery is just a tiny fraction of a much bigger cache. In reality, during the 1930s, scholars discovered 14 gold coins dating from the era of Constantine, who ruled between 306 and 337. The place is also well-known among “treasure seekers,” who visit the area from time to time to leave their mark.
“To date, this is the greatest hoard of Roman era coins ever discovered in a cave in northern Spain. “We’ve taken the initial deposit, but we believe there’s a lot more to come,” Fanjul added. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you’ve dreamed of since you were a child.” As an archaeologist, you never know when you’ll have a chance like this.”
All of the coins found due to the badger have been cleaned and are currently exhibited at the Asturias Archaeological Museum. Fanjul and his team of archeologists plan a second visit to the site to see what more they might find.