ROMAN coins found in a village near Marlborough 40 years are now on show close to where they were discovered for the first time.

The British Museum has allowed Wiltshire Museum in Long Street, Devizes to stage an exhibition of the Cunetio Hoard in a ground breaking deal between the two museums.

It is the first time the famous London museum has made a loan to its Devizes counterpart.

The Cunetio hoard made up of 54,951 coins was made at the site of the Roman town of Cunetio near Mildenhall in 1978 and were deposited in the British Museum. But the pottery vessel in which they were concealed was put on display in Devizes. Now more than 100 of the coins are on show in Devizes.

Museum director David Dawson said: "This year marks the forty-year anniversary of the discovery.

"The largest hoard from Roman Britain, the Cunetio coins were buried in this large ceramic jar and a lead box. The hoard is mostly base silver radiates, which were produced in large numbers prior to the burial in around AD 274.

"Although the denarius was no longer widely used by the time the Cunetio hoard was buried, it contained a surprising number of these earlier silver coins. It seems that, like the Beau Street hoard found in Bath, Cunetio was sorted before being buried in its two containers. Unfortunately it was mixed before it could be studied and so we do not know exactly which coins were in which container."

The location of the hoard just outside the town of Cunetio may hold a clue to its burial. The town was strongly fortified in the late Roman period and perhaps had some official role, for example in tax collection. Temples are also commonly found on the way into a town. But more archaeological investigation is said to be needed to understand the hoard’s findspot, which was close to an area excavated by Channel 4’s Time Team in 2009.

Mr Dawson said: "For the first time since their discovery, the ceramic jar and one hundred of the coins have been reunited, prior to being featured in the forthcoming touring exhibition from the British Museum, Hoards: The Hidden History of Ancient Britain, due to open at Salisbury Museum in the Autumn. The pottery vessel has been newly conserved for display in the exhibition.

Mr Dawson said the loan from the British Museum was now possible as the new exhibition galleries of the museum in Long Street now meet standards expected by the top museums. He said: “With support from the Arts Council, our new exhibitions officer, Heather Ault, is working to develop an exciting special exhibitions programme over the next few years."