Last month on Sunday, December 21st, many of us were going to holiday parties or baking cookies. But not the Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club. They went out hunting for treasure with their metal detectors. One member, Paul Coleman, almost didn’t go, because the cost of gas was straining his budget. In fact, he had to persuade his adult son and his son’s friend to join him and contribute gas money. Considering the treasure they uncovered on their outing, it’s apparent they made the right choice.
The group searched for treasure in a farmer’s field in Buckinghamshire, England. Coleman made several sweeps with his detector—not finding anything. In fact, he was just about to leave and go search elsewhere when he heard a ping. Very carefully, he began to dig.
“I began digging and for about 20 minutes I hadn’t found anything. Then my hand hit something hard and I found some lead. I thought, “This has been a waste of time,” Coleman explained.
“But in the next mound of soil I moved, I saw a shiny disc and I knew instantly it was a coin. I bent down to pick it up and I could see lots of discs—one I identified as a Saxon coin. I couldn’t believe it.”
Luckily for Coleman, the Weekend Wanderers had come prepared. An archeologist had come along for the event to help identify and catalog any significant finds. The archeologist in attendance was Ros Tyrrell, the Finds Liaison Officer for Buckinghamshire. Tyrrell was able to confirm Coleman’s hypothesis that the astonishingly well-preserved coins were Anglo-Saxon immediately.
The hoard, which contains 5,251 silver coins, appears to be around 1,000 years old. Judging by the rulers featured on the coins, they were minted during the reigns of Ethelred the Unready (978-1016) and Canute (1016-1035). Archeologists think the coins were most likely minted at the nearby Buckingham Mint. Some numismatic experts estimate the immaculate coins could be worth close to $400 a piece, which would make the hoard worth a lot more than $1.5 million. In addition to what they already know, archeologists think there’s more to learn from this incredibly significant find.
“This is one of the largest hoards of Anglo-Saxon coins ever found in Britain,” a spokesman for the nearby Bucks County Museum stated. “…and when the coins have been properly identified and dated, we may be able to guess at why such a great treasure was buried.”
Experts are calling this find as significant as the discovery of 2009’s Staffordshire Hoard, which contained over 3,000 gold coins, garnets, and a number of other Anglo-Saxon items. The wonderful condition of the Buckinghamshire Hoard, coupled with its proper extraction, will make these coins a rich resource for history buffs all over the world for years to come.
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