Treasure trove: Farmer discovers 4,000 Roman coins in Swiss orchard

Story highlights

  • Farmer finds over 4,000 ancient coins in orchard
  • Could have belonged to landowner in Switzerland

(CNN)When you spot a glimmering object in your back garden, it rarely ends up being anything more valuable than aluminum-foil.

But one farmer in Switzerland has hit the jackpot after discovering a treasure trove of Roman coins thought to be more than 1,700 years old.
Further excavation -- with the help of the regional archaeological service -- revealed 4,166 coins buried in Ueken, in the northern canton of Aargau, Switzerland.
"This is an exceptional discovery," said Dr George Matter, an archaeologist who worked on the excavation.
"In archeology, rarely more than 2,500 coins are found. This is a whole new category which is almost unique," he added.
Some coins in the stash date back as far as Emperor Aurelian's reign in the year 274. Others come from the time of Emperor Maximian in the year 294.

Whose coins were they?

"We think that the treasure might have belonged to a tradesman or a landowner who lived in the area and put his savings aside for years. And for whatever reason he hid them in this hideout," said Matter.
But why did the owner never retrieve the bronze and silver fortune?
"One theory is that he didn't have a chance to return to the place to dig his savings out," Explained Matter.
"He might have gotten ill or passed away. Another theory is that he was actually searching for the treasure but couldn't locate it anymore."
The vegetable farmer will not be able to keep the coins, which will go on display at the Vindonissa de Brugg Museum in Aargau.
Though Matter explained that the farmer is likely to receive a "finder's fee," in accordance with Swiss law.