A ROMAN coin buried in the depths of Malmesbury's Athelstan Museum has been unearthed.

Volunteers auditing the museum's collection discovered the small, corroded piece of metal last week.

Unsure of what it was, they sent it to Wiltshire County Council's conservation department, where it was identified as a Roman Denarius coin.

Friends of Athelstan Museum chairman Roger Griffin said it was further evidence of the Roman presence in the town.

"The coin was one that we found while doing an audit of the collection," he said.

"It had been taken in by the former curator, when the museum was run by North Wiltshire District Council, but nothing was done with it.

"It looked a rather unprepossessing piece of scrap metal.

"The person who turned it up came to me and asked what we should do with it.

"It was almost a case of throwing it away, it was that unpromising.

"But we sent it to the county council's conservation department and they worked on it and found it's a Roman Denarius.

"It's quite an uncommon one, because they were unable to say which particular emperor was on it.

"They have taken photos of it, which will be sent to the British Museum, to get it positively identified.

"It's quite small, not much bigger than a five pence piece.

"We are very excited about it, because it was another treasure sitting there that nobody appreciated."

Mr Griffin's group took over the museum from the district council, which still owns the collection, in April last year.

Over 7,000 visitors have passed through the museum's doors since then.

It is the second time in a matter of months that a coin discovered in the town has caused excitement.

In November, an eighth century Saxon sceatta was found during the excavation of a new cable trench in Abbey Row.

Archaeologist Steve George, who was keeping a watching brief on the work in the Gloucester Street and Abbey Row area, found the silver coin.