Man accused of stealing Roman coin in Castle Acre

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A man will stand trial this spring accused of stealing a Roman coin during an alleged illegal metal detecting operation in a West Norfolk village almost five years ago.

Roy Wood, 51, of Lytton Road, Grays, Essex, pleaded not guilty to two charges of theft when he appeared before magistrates in Basildon yesterday.

He is now due to face trial at Basildon Crown Court on May 19.

Police say that one of the counts relates to a gold Roman coin, believed to date from the period of the Emperor Valentinian in the fourth century AD, which police say was uncovered during an alleged nighthawking operation in Castle Acre in August 2009.

The coin is said to be worth around £200.

Nighthawking is the term used to describe illegal metal detecting on land whether permission has either been refused or was never sought.

The second charge relates to a similar incident involving a coin estimated to be worth around £15,000, which is said to have happened in Cambridgeshire in October 2009.

A spokesman for Essex Police, who lead the investigation of such cases in England and Wales, said the case had emerged following a tip-off from the British Museum that items which had been found through metal detecting may not have been reported as they are required to be under the Treasure Act.