IMPORTANT historical evidence is likely to have been destroyed by property development, it has been warned.

Dr Colin Dawes recently discovered seven bronze Roman coins in Uplyme, close to Lyme Regis.

The palaeontologist believes more coins are buried at the confidential site and further historical artefacts are yet to be found in the area.

Dr Dawes said: “It’s probable that a Roman villa existed on the bank of the River Lym and that evidence could have been destroyed in the wake of property development.”

Dr Dawes said: “We know that near Uplyme, in Holcombe, there is a site of a Roman villa, which was excavated in 1970.”

Dr Dawes is a well-known fossil hunter in Lyme Regis and took up metal detecting three years ago when he joined the East Devon Metal Detecting Club.

He unearthed the seven coins over 18 months, and all were found a few inches below the surface within a few feet of each other.

“I thought the first coin was a lead disc as lead is common,” he said.

The third coin he discovered was the rarest one in his collection and has been displayed in Exeter Library prior to the renovation of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.

They all span the second century and have been identified by the British Museum under the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS).

He has also found a ‘scatter’ of Roman coins in Uplyme and these are being assessed.

Dr Dawes is urging people to check an area before building on it. He said: “If you find anything in your garden that looks interesting contact someone like myself who could look into it. It could be nothing, but you never know.

“The more that is unearthed before too much damage is done, the better.”