Category Archive 'Buried Treasure'
24 Apr 2023
The History Blog reports the latest metal detecting finds.
Two hoards of Viking hacksilver and coins dating to the late 10th century have been unearthed under a cornfield near Bramslev in northern Jutland. The two treasures were discovered less than 165 feet apart and are very similar in content. They were originally even closer, but later agricultural activity disturbed the deposits, intermingling the coins and other silver objects.
The first pieces were discovered last fall by Jane Foged-Mønster, a member of a local metal detecting association, Nordjysk Detektorforening, during a rally on a farmed field. She spotted a piece of silver which turned out to be a clipped Arabic dirham coin, then another fragment, this time a decorated silver ball from a ring buckle. The group, which works closely with museum archaeologists, recognized this was a treasure find and alerted experts from the North Jutland Museum.
Archaeologists followed up quickly with a rescue excavation of the site. Because it was actively in use for agriculture, anything else that might have been part of the hoard remaining in the plow layer was at imminent risk of being scattered or even destroyed. Jane Foged-Mønster and two of her co-discoverers from the metal detecting group aided in the excavation.
The archaeological team and volunteers spent a week digging at the site. They unearthed 300 finds, from small clippings of silver to jewelry and coins. The decorated ball terminal on a silver rod that Jane Foged-Mønster found has a pair. They both weigh about 70 grams (2.5 oz) and originally were part of the same piece of jewelry, likely a very large ring brooch. This type of jewel was worn by high-status men of Viking Ireland. Something this large and heavy and ornately decorated would have belonged to someone at the highest echelons of society like a bishop or even a king. It was likely looted by Danes in a raid and cut up for its silver weight.
Among the 300 finds are 50 coins, most of them Danish, but also German and Arabic. Some of the Danish coins are extremely rare cross coins struck in the reign of Harald “Bluetooth” Blåtand in the 970s and 980s. The crosses on the coins are believed to be connected to his King Harald’s conversion to Christianity and his aim of Christianizing the Danes. The ring fort of Fyrkat, built by King Harald Bluetooth around the same time the coins were struck, is just five miles away from the hoard site.
23 Jul 2021
Library of Sakya Monastery, Tibet. (Click on image for larger version.)
A huge library of as many as 84,000 scrolls was found sealed up in a wall 60 metres long and 10 metres high at Sakya Monastery in 2003. It is expected that most of them will prove to be Buddhist scriptures, although they may well also include works of literature, history, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics and art. They are thought to have remained untouched for hundreds of years.
24 May 2021
Since Forrest Fenn’s treasure was found last year, a lot of us have been waiting impatiently for the finder to identify himself and explain how he reasoned out the puzzle.
Hallelujah! Daniel Barbarisi got hold of the mysterious Med Student, got his story out of him, and wrote a book. I’ve ordered my copy.
On September 23, just over two weeks after Fenn died, a post surfaced on the website Medium, a self-publishing platform that allows users to distribute essays and other written works anonymously if they choose. Titled “A Remembrance of Forrest Fenn,” it was written by The Finder, who described himself thusly: “The author is the finder and owner of the Forrest Fenn treasure.”
In 3,000 well-crafted words, the finder penned an ode to Fenn, who he described as his friend.
“I am the person who found Forrest’s famed treasure,” he wrote. “The moment it happened was not the triumphant Hollywood ending some surely envisioned; it just felt like I had just survived something and was fortunate to come out the other end.”
In his essay, the finder revealed a great deal about the circumstances under which he had found the treasure—but crucially, he would not divulge exactly where he had located it, and said he did not plan to. He was also careful not to let any details about his own identity slip, indicating only that he was a millennial and had student loans to pay off. Beyond that, he was an enigma.
After finishing the essay, I no longer had any doubt that there was a finder.
Much else, though, remained unresolved. The finder had teased so many things in his essay, left me and everyone else wanting more. He’d said he’d answer more questions at some point, but I didn’t particularly want to wait, or leave what he answered up to him alone.
So I contacted him.
04 Jan 2021
Smithsonian reports on another British coin hoard. Metal detectors really work, don’t they?
This September, a British birder who’d stopped on the edge of a farmer’s field to watch a buzzard and a pair of magpies stumbled onto a trove of 2,000-year-old Celtic coins worth an estimated £845,000 (around $1,150,000 USD).
As first reported by Julian Evan-Hart of Treasure Hunting magazine, the unnamed bird-watcher—who is also an amateur metal detectorist—unearthed the stash of some 1,300 gold coins in a field in the eastern English countryside. Dated to between roughly 40 and 50 A.D., the cache is the largest hoard of Iron Age Celtic coins found in the United Kingdom since 2008, when a car mechanic excavated a stash of 850 ancient staters, or handmade money, in Suffolk.
“I saw the glint of gold and realized it was a beautiful Celtic gold stater, which made me sit down in sheer shock,” the birder tells Treasure Hunting, as quoted by the Daily Mail’s Luke May. “I then spotted the second coin two feet away and rushed home to get my [metal detector].”
Upon his return, the man found that his detector produced a “really strong” signal—a sure sign that more treasures lingered below the surface. Digging down about 18 inches, he extracted a copper vessel brimming with gold coins dated back to the era when Celtic queen Boudica led a massive uprising against the Romans.
“I had to sit down to get my breath back,” the treasure hunter says. “I had only come out for a walk and found a Celtic hoard.”
Once the man overcame his initial shock, he filled two large shopping bags with the cache of coins and returned home. Then, he promptly contacted local authorities to report the find. If experts deem the discovery treasure, they will offer it to a museum and potentially offer a share of the reward to the finder. (Current guidelines define treasure very narrowly, but as Caroline Davies reports for the Guardian, the U.K. government is working to expand these parameters in order to better protect the country’s national heritage items.)
“The coins form a substantial if not enormous contribution to our academic numismatic knowledge and will undoubtedly be subject to much assessment over the coming year,” says Jules Evan-Hart, editor of Treasure Hunting, in a statement quoted by the New York Post’s Hannah Sparks. “It is possible that [the coins] may form a deposit as a ‘war chest’ for Boudica’s eastern campaigns.”
10 Dec 2020
Jack Stuef and Forrest Fenn admire the treasure.
Daniel Babarisi, at Outside,
Since 2017, I had been pursuing Fenn’s treasure, too, becoming a kinda-sorta searcher in order to tell the story of Fenn’s hunt in my upcoming book Chasing the Thrill, to be published by Knopf in June. I’d been in the trenches, read Fenn’s clue-filled poem over and over, ended up in places I probably shouldn’t have been, and gone to places where other people died trying to find it.
A decade ago, Fenn hid his treasure chest, containing gold and other valuables estimated to be worth at least a million dollars, somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Not long after, he published a memoir called The Thrill of the Chase, which included a mysterious 24-line poem that, if solved, would lead searchers to the treasure. Fenn had suggested that the loot was secreted away at the place where he had envisioned lying down to die, back when he’d believed a 1988 cancer diagnosis was terminal. Since the hunt began in 2010, many thousands of searchers had gone out in pursuit—at least five of them losing their lives in the process—and the chase became an international story.
So many people had invested and sacrificed so much in pursuit of Fenn’s treasure that it was possible the finder would face threats, be they legal or physical, from people who resented them or wished them ill.
And that was exactly what was beginning to play out.
This past June, Fenn announced that the treasure had been found by a man from “back east” who wanted to remain anonymous—even, once we were in contact, to me. So despite exchanging dozens of emails with the finder, and discussing the details of the chest and what locating it meant to him, I never pressed him about who he was, and he never volunteered.
Last week, he told me the situation had changed. Fenn had been targeted by lawsuits both before and after the chest was found, by hunters claiming that the treasure was rightfully theirs. One of the lawsuits, filed immediately after Fenn announced the hunt was over, also targets the unknown finder as a defendant, claiming that he had stolen the plaintiff’s solve and used it to find the chest. That litigation had advanced to a procedural stage during which the finder expected his name would likely come out in court. So while he remained guarded about his solve and the location where he discovered the treasure, he now didn’t mind telling me who he really was.
And that’s when I learned that a 32-year-old Michigan native and medical student was the person who had finally solved Fenn’s poem. His name is Jack Stuef.
13 Sep 2020
c. 1600-1610. A watch set in a single large Colombian emerald crystal of hexagonal form with a hinged lid. The dial plate (the hand is missing) is enamelled in translucent green.
Museum of London:
For almost 300 years a buried treasure lay undisturbed below one of London’s busiest streets. No one knew it was there until workmen started to demolish a timber-framed building in Cheapside near St Paul’s Cathedral, in June 1912. The property had stood on the site since the 17th century, but the cellars were older and lined with brick.
On 18 June 1912 workmen started to excavate the cellars with their picks, and while they were breaking up the floor, they noticed something glinting in the soil below. Quickly scraping the chalky soil aside, they realized that they had struck the remains of an old wooden casket, and to their immense delight a tangled heap of jewellery, gems and other precious objects came tumbling forth. They had uncovered what is now known and celebrated as The Cheapside Hoard the greatest cache of Elizabethan and early Stuart jewellery in the world and one of the most remarkable and spectacular finds ever recovered from British soil.
As a time-capsule of contemporary taste and the jewellers’ trade The Cheapside Hoard is unsurpassed, and it remains not only the most important source of our knowledge of Elizabethan and early Stuart jewellery in England because so little jewellery of this date has survived, but also provides unparalleled information on the international gem trade in an age of global conquest and exploration.
The Hoard was acquired by the London Museum in 1912 (which merged with the Guildhall Museum to form the Museum of London in 1976).
09 Jun 2020
ABC Chicago reported that the decade-long quest is over.
Forrest Fenn, who hid $1 million in treasure in the Rocky Mountain wilderness a decade ago, said Sunday that the chest of goods has been found.
Fenn, 89, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that a treasure hunter located the chest a few days ago.
“The guy who found it does not want his name mentioned. He’s from back East,” Fenn said, adding that it was confirmed from a photograph the man sent him. Fenn did not reveal exactly where it had been hidden.
Fenn posted clues to the treasure’s whereabouts online and in a 24-line poem that was published in his 2010 autobiography “The Thrill of the Chase.”
Hundreds of thousands have hunted in vain across remote corners of the U.S. West for the bronze chest believed to be filled with gold coins, jewelry and other valuable items. Many quit their jobs to dedicate themselves to the search and others depleted their life savings. At least four people died searching for it.
Fenn, who lives in Santa Fe, said he hid his treasure as a way to tempt people to get into the wilderness and give them a chance to launch an old-fashioned adventure and expedition for riches.
For more than a decade, he packed and repacked his treasure chest, sprinkling in gold dust and adding hundreds of rare gold coins and gold nuggets. Pre-Columbian animal figures went in, along with prehistoric “mirrors” of hammered gold, ancient Chinese faces carved from jade and antique jewelry with rubies and emeralds.
Fenn told The New Mexican in 2017 that the chest weighs 20 pounds (9 kilograms) and its contents weigh another 22 pounds (10 kilograms). He said he delivered the chest to its hiding place by himself over two separate trips.
Asked how he felt now that the treasure has been found, Fenn said: “I don’t know, I feel halfway kind of glad, halfway kind of sad because the chase is over.”
All Thats Interesting has the whole story.
NYM 2015 post.
19 Feb 2020
This 17th Century Italian lady’s purse was built over a parchment skeleton composed of several pages from a 14th or 15th Century illuminated manuscript of a Breviary.
22 Nov 2019
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 â€“ 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 â€œtwo emperorâ€ 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 Â£100,000 each.
Meanwhile, whispers that Powell and Davies had struck gold had begun to circulate and on 6 July â€“ 33 days after their discovery â€“ 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 Wellsâ€™ 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: â€œI knew it would come to this.â€
The rock crystal pendant.
03 Aug 2016
The late Randy Bilyeu and Leo
Last January 5th, 54-year-old Randy Bilyeu launched an $89 inflatable raft and set off down the Rio Grande, accompanied by Leo his nine-year-old poodle-terrier-mix, to find the 12th-century Romanesque chest, reputedly containing 42 pounds of gold coins, rubies, diamonds, sapphires, ancient jade carvings, pre-Columbian bracelets, and gold nuggets, stashed deliberately for the benefit of treasure hunters by the colorful Santa Fe art dealer Forest Fenn in 2010.
His ex-wife filed a missing persons report after not hearing from him for several days, and on January 15th Leo and his raft were found seven miles down river.
Bilyeu’s remains were finally found in the same general area last month.
Robert Sanchez, of Denver’s 5280 Magazine, talked to Forest Fenn:
Fenn seemed perturbed at the thought of Bilyeu and his dog going onto the Rio Grande in a sporting-goods-store raft with no training and in the dead of winter. â€œIâ€™ve said that people should not search in the winter,â€ Fenn said. In the past, he also said the treasure isnâ€™t in a dangerous place. He said he made two trips from his vehicle in one afternoonâ€”the first to carry the chest, the second to deliver the contents. â€œI donâ€™t want anybody searching where an 80-year-old man couldnâ€™t have made two trips,â€ he said. â€œRandyâ€™s raft was very far from his car. Randy was going to go down the river, somehow get back, and he was going to do that twice? The chest is 42 pounds. What was his exit plan?â€
That, he said, is just the beginning of his disappointment with Bilyeuâ€™s strategy. â€œThe treasure is in the Rocky Mountains, at least eight and a quarter miles north of the north city limits of Santa Fe,â€ Fenn said. â€œFrijoles Canyon is not in the Rocky Mountains. Why was he looking in a place that wasnâ€™t in the designated search area?â€ To Fenn, Bilyeuâ€™s poorly organized plan, and the area he decided to search, â€œpoint to the fact that maybe he didnâ€™t care. Maybe he wanted to disappear.â€
Read the whole thing.
29 Apr 2016
Construction workers repairing water pipes in Seville, southern Spain, have discovered 600kg of ancient Roman coins, covered with dirt and dust. The find is said to be worth at least â€œseveral million euros.â€
Tens of thousands of bronze coins, dating back to the third and fourth centuries, were found inside 19 Roman amphoras in the town of Tomares near Seville, El Pais reported.
“This find is extremely important,â€ Ana Navarro, head of Sevilleâ€™s Archeology Museum now looking after the find, told El Pais. â€œIt is a unique collection, and there are very few similar cases,â€ she added.
The discovery of the jars full of coins happened on Wednesday during construction work about 10 kilometers from Seville.
“Those are not amphoras meant to store wine or oil. They are smaller and were used to transport other goods. Surprisingly [they were] used to save money,” Navarro told the newspaper.
AFP quoted Navarro as saying the coins, stamped with inscriptions of Emperors Maximian and Constantine on the reverse side, are worth â€œseveral million euros.â€
â€œI could not give you an monetary value, because the value they really have is historical and you canâ€™t calculate that.â€
Although most coins are bronze, archaeologists say some appear to be silver-plated. “Most show little evidence of wear, which means they were not in circulation,” Navarro explained.
“It is surprising to have found 19 jars filled with coins. Out hypothesis is that the money was used to pay imperial taxes or paying the army,â€ Navarro told the newspaper, adding that the amphoras were probably hidden â€œbecause of social conflicts, violence [and other] threats.â€
Local authorities have suspended work on the water pipes to carry out archaeological excavations at the site.
11 Dec 2015
A Viking hoard discovered by an amateur metal detectorist could prompt the re-writing of English history, after experts claimed it shows how Alfred the Great â€œairbrushedâ€ a rival king from history.
Ceolwulf II of Mercia is barely mentioned in contemporary records and largely forgotten by history, only briefly described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as an â€œunwise Kingâ€™s thaneâ€.
The hoard was found by James Mather, a metal detectorist, near Watlington in OctoberThe hoard was found by James Mather, a metal detectorist, near Watlington in October Photo: Julian Simmonds/The Telegraph
But as of today, his reputation might be rescued after a haul of coins dug up after more than 1,000 years suggested he in fact had a powerful alliance with Alfred, ruling their kingdoms as equals.
The hoard, made up of 186 coins, seven items of jewellery and 15 ingots, was found by amateur metal detectorist James Mather on his 60th birthday, after he uncovered it in a muddy field.
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