Devizes metal detectorist Dave Crisp, secretary of the Trowbridge Metal Detecting Club, has been publicly commended for his actions after he found one of the biggest ever hoards of Roman coins.

Mr Crisp, 63, from Waylands, Devizes, uncovered the huge hoard of coins in a field near Frome, Somerset, in April this year.

He told east Somerset coroner Tony Williams at an inquest in Frome today that he often searched the fields round there with the permission of the farmers.

He said of his visit on April 9: "It was a nice day and I had a day off work so I thought I go out detectoring.

"I saw one of my farmers harrowing in one of his fields so I thought I would go and speak to him.

"Detectorists never just walk across fields. They detect as they go along. I got a signal as I walked along and I dug up a little Roman coin."

Over the next day Mr Crisp actually unearthed 62 coins, all dating from the third and fourth centuries AD.

But it was on April 11 he really hit pay dirt.

He told Mr Williams: "I got a funny signal which usually indicates something iron. I had to dig down about a foot into the clay subsoil and I brought up what looked like a piece of rock but I saw was a piece of distinctive black Roman pottery."

Further investigation uncovered several more pieces of pottery and a few Roman coins. With over 20 years in detectoring Mr Crisp knew exactly what he had found.

He said: "I sat there and I shouted, I've found a hoard! I was over the moon."

Mr Crisp made no effort to unearth any further but covered up the find and phoned the Wiltshire finds liaison officer, Katie Hinds, with whom he had previous dealings.

As a result archaeologists were able to examine the hoard in situ and in all brought to the surface 52,503 coins, dating from 253AD to 394AD.

Mr Williams told Mr Crisp: "You're to be praised for the action you took. Because of the way you acted the maximum amount of information was able to be gleaned by the academics."

Mr Williams had no hesitation in declaring the two finds treasure. They will be evaluated at the British Museum in London and the value will be split between Mr Crisp and the landowner.