A team of archaeologists have unearthed evidence of the world’s first cash machine dating back to the Roman empire, buried for centuries in an unassuming field in Hatfield, England.
The ‘noteworthy’ discovery suggests Juno Moneta, the Roman Goddess of Money and Funds, was smiling on the British Isles as early as AD 265.
The discovery, located in what appears to be the wall of an ancient bakery at the heart of the commercial Roman town, sheds light on how cash was the cornerstone on which the ancient community was founded and clearly shows the Romans were indeed keen on their ‘dough’.
The mysterious fragments and collection of Roman coins, dated to the year AD 289, are traces of one of the world’s first automated monetary distribution machines, with clear signs of wear and tear from extensive use by townsfolk.
The site points to cultural evolutions showing how shoppers and local shopkeepers alike were clearly ‘cashing in’ on a ready source of money in their town.
A Roman vase was also discovered at the site, filled with cash. Archaeologists believe the vase was used for cash storage within the wall so the Hatfield Romans could easily replenish and access their hard ‘urned’ money.
The site, and fragments of the Roman ‘Hole in the Wall’ serve as an important reminder of how physical cash has always been embedded within British life.
One local sceptic said ‘For my two-penneth, it sounds like a load of old bullion to me’, however, the presence of minted currency shows the Romans in Hatfield were clearly ‘coining it in’ well before current historians had previously estimated.
While money jokes are priceless, consumer group Which? recently disclosed bank branch closures are having a significant impact on local communities, limiting access to cash for people in most areas and restricting major banking services.
A recent Cardtronics survey with over 400,000 respondents found that 62 per cent believe shops and restaurants should be made to accept cash by law, in response to the closing of bank branches.
The current cost of living crisis has exacerbated the necessity for easy cash access, with 55 per cent of consumers believing we are being pushed towards a cashless society and 74 per cent unwilling to walk 1km to their nearest working cash machine. The discovery of this ancient ATM serves as a reminder that cash has been around for centuries and should be protected as a matter of consumer rights.
Marc Terry, Managing Director of Cardtronics, shared with City A.M.: “The impact of cash within British history and culture can’t be underestimated and now, more than ever, access to cash must be protected to maintain this cornerstone of British communities well into the future. Our recent research underlines this conviction and demonstrates the level of concern that UK consumers have for the reduction of cash access and acceptance across the country.”