Experts believe that a starving badger foraging for food unearthed this “exceptional” treasure trove of over 200 Roman coins, the largest such find ever unearthed in northern Spain.
The remarkable discovery took place inside the cave of La Cuesta, in the parish of Bercio, in the municipality of Grado, in the autonomous community of Asturias, in north-western Spain, in April 2021, but the find has just been revealed now in a report by Spanish researchers.
The winter in early 2021 was harsh in Spain, making it difficult for badgers to find their usual sources of food, which include berries, worms and small invertebrates.
One particularly hungry badger is said to have accidentally uncovered the treasure trove of 209 ancient coins in the cave while looking for food, with its discovery then being stumbled upon by Roberto Garcia, a resident of the area, and two archaeologists who were visiting the cave.
Storm Filomena, which blanketed the country in snow, is said to have made the badger more desperate in its search for food, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais. The coins were reportedly found feet from the animal’s burrow.
The coins date from between the 3rd and the 5th centuries AD, with some even originating in distant mints in London and Antioch. The experts believe that someone hid the coins in the cave before the arrival of the Suebi, Germanic peoples who invaded the region in 409 AD.
The La Cuesta cave sits just 16 metres (52 feet) into a wall of the Nalon River. This cavity, which is accessed by a steep clay slope covered with forestry, was popular with 18th-century treasure hunters and was known as the grotto of an imaginary barbarian king called Godulfo.