22 Nov 2019

New Hoard Found in Hereford

, , , ,

One of two “Emperor” coins.

Too bad that the metal detectors got greedy and fell afoul of the authorities. The Guardian has pictures and the story.

On a sunny day in June 2015 amateur metal detectorists George Powell and Layton Davies were hunting for treasure in fields at a remote spot in Herefordshire.

The pair had done their research carefully and were focusing on a promising area just north of Leominster, close to high land and a wood with intriguing regal names – Kings Hall Hill and Kings Hall Covert.

But in their wildest dreams they could not have imagined what they were about to find when the alarm on one of their detectors sounded and they began to dig.

Powell and Davies unearthed a hoard hidden more than 1,000 years ago, almost certainly by a Viking warrior who was part of an army that retreated into the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia after being defeated by Alfred the Great in 878.

There was gold jewellery including a chunky ring, an arm bracelet in the shape of a serpent and a small crystal ball held by thin strips of gold that would have been worn as a pendant. Beneath the gold were silver ingots and an estimated 300 silver coins.

The law is clear: such finds should be reported to the local coroner within 14 days and failure to do so risks an unlimited fine and up to three months in prison. Any reward may be split between the finder, land owner and land occupier.

Powell and Davies, experienced detectorists from south Wales, chose a different route. Two days later they went to a Cardiff antiques centre called the Pumping Station and showed some examples of their find to coin dealer Paul Wells. He immediately knew they were very special.

The crystal ball pendant turned out to be the oldest item, probably dating from the 5th or 6th century, while the ring and arm bracelet are thought to be 9th- century. They were described as priceless in court. Nothing like the arm bracelet has ever been seen by modern man before.

But if anything, the coins turned out to be even more significant. Among them were extremely rare “two emperor” coins depicting two Anglo-Saxon rulers: King Alfred of Wessex and Ceolwulf II of Mercia. They are important because they give a fresh glimpse of how Mercia and Wessex were ruled in the 9th century at about the time England was morphing into a single united kingdom.

Still, the pair did not contact the authorities. Instead Powell got in touch with another treasure hunter, Simon Wicks from East Sussex, and two weeks after the find he presented himself at upmarket coin auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb in Mayfair, central London.

Wicks put a selection of the coins found in Herefordshire, including a pair of the two emperors, in front of one its leading experts. The expert gasped when he saw the coins and suggested the two emperors could be worth £100,000 each.

Meanwhile, whispers that Powell and Davies had struck gold had begun to circulate and on 6 July – 33 days after their discovery – the Herefordshire finds liaison officer, Peter Reavill, contacted Powell and Davies and gently asked if they had anything to tell him about.
Powell initially replied with a firm denial but they eventually handed over the gold jewellery and an ingot. However, they insisted they had only found a couple of damaged coins that they did not need to declare.

But the net was closing in. Police visited Wells’ house and he showed them five coins from the hoard that had been stitched into his magnifying glass case. When he was arrested he said: “I knew it would come to this.”


The rock crystal pendant.

4 Feedbacks on "New Hoard Found in Hereford"


I’m not a fan of laws that take the “find” from those who find it. It isn’t clear from the article but anyone who has any knowledge of these things knows that the state and other interests take up to 90% and in some cases take 100% of it. It appears to me that the state does nothing but takes everything. And they do this by fiat. I think if their approach was more reasonable and fair that then the people who actually find the treasure would be more willing to comply with the laws.

Fusil Darne

All you will ever need to know about the difference between a subject, and, a citizen.


I visit Mesa Verde every few years and sometimes I pay for one of the guided tours just to get a different perspective. One time the guide was talking about the pottery shards that were/are everywhere if you know what to look for. I made some comment about them being already all discovered. He said no, if you look around you can still find them and then he picked up a couple of shards right from the path we were walking on. We looked at the pieces, held them and gave them back so he could return them to exactly where he found them. But after that I would find these ancient pottery shards everywhere. Technically, you aren’t even supposed to pick them up and most certainly not supposed to remove them. But I wonder what would be better? Leave them there to be walked upon and turned to dust or take one or two home to become artifacts that your kids and grandkids could learn about?

Malcolm Jones

Well yes, the law on finding treasure must be respected and upheld by everyone irispective of whether they are metal detectorists or whatever.
However with regard to this important find or for that matter any other hugely significant find found in the UK, then perhaps it is fair to assume that had the perpetrators of this crime not visited that remote area where they made their discovery, then “their” treasure may never ever have been found.
It had already lay hidden for over 1000 years.
Now at least it has been brought to light and some of its precious coins and artifacts have mad their way into the British museum for everyone to enjoy.
So in effect some goodness has come out of this unfortunate incident after all.
I would also like to say that the majority of metal detctorists respect their hobby and strictly abide by the law’s relating to the treasure act.


Please Leave a Comment!

Please note: Comments may be moderated. It may take a while for them to show on the page.

Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark