British hobbyists Reg Mead and Richard Miles searched for three decades on the basis of rumors of a farmer finding silver coins on his land before finding a massive hoard of 30,000-50,000 coins lying beneath a mound of clay under a hedge. The coins are believed to date from the first century B.C. and to have been struck by a tribe called the Coriosolitae who lived on the northern coast of modern-day Brittany. The theory is that the coins were buried to protect them from the Roman army advancing under the command of Julius Caesar.
Darren Webster was meant to be going back to work after dropping his son off at home when, on a whim, he stopped by a field and decided to have a quick forage with his metal detector.
Within 20 minutes he made a discovery that was to introduce a new name to the turbulent history of medieval England.
One of the objects in a hoard of silver buried one metre down in the earth was a coin marked with the name of Airedeconut, thought to refer to Harthacnut, a previously unrecorded Viking king powerful enough to have his own currency in 10th-century Northumbria.
Mr Webster, who has a stone tile workshop in Yealand Conyers, Lancashire, said that he had permission to search in the field near his home in Silverdale but did not choose it for any particular reason.
“My machine was telling me that I’d found some kind of silver. So I was slightly disheartened when I saw a lead pot. It was as I was lifting it that silver pieces started falling out of it.”
Once the lead container had been prised open there were 201 silver objects, including 27 coins, ten arm-rings, six brooch fragments, two finger rings, a fine wire braid and 14 ingots.
There were also 141 fragments of metal known as hacksilver, which would have been used for barter.
Gareth Williams, curator of early medieval coins at the British Museum, where the discovery was announced yesterday, said that the hoard would have been worth a midsized herd of cows in the 10th century, and would probably fetch a “high five-figure sum” today.
The exact value will be determined by a panel of experts in the spring, when museums will be allowed to bid for it. The Lancaster City Museum has already expressed an interest.
Under the Treasure Act, Mr Webster will be awarded half the value of the hoard, and the remainder will be given to the owner of the field, who has asked to remain anonymous.
Why someone hid a small fortune is a mystery, but burying treasure is usually an attempt to keep valuables safe in uncertain times.
“It is a period of political instability,” said Dr Williams. “The Vikings of Dublin were expelled and came to the North of England. There was also the Battle of Tettenhall, on the outskirts of Wolverhampton, where several northern kings were killed.”
The hoard was placed in a lead box and buried underground at a time when the Anglo-Saxons were attempting to wrest control of the north of the country from the Vikings.
Yesterday, the central London museum unveiled the hoard, the fourth largest ever found, which included Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Viking, German and Islamic coins.
In total there were 201 silver objects, including the 27 coins which date the burial around 900AD, around the time the Vikings had been expelled from Dublin and were fighting the Anglo-Saxons to keep control of the north of England.
It also includes also coins from the time of Alfred the Great, who reigned from 871 to 899, and from the Viking kingdom of Northumbria.
One silver denier, bears the name Charles. Others bear the name Airdeconut, a Viking ruler in northern England.
Officials said the inscription Airdeconut, appeared to be an attempt to represent the Scandinavian name Harthacnut.
They said this was because many Vikings had converted to Christianity within a generation of settling in Britain.
On the other side were the words DNS (Dominus) REX, which was arranged in the form of a cross.
â€œThe design of the coin relates to known coins of the kings Siefredus and Cnut, who ruled the Viking kingdom of Northumbria around AD900, but Harthacnut is otherwise unrecorded,â€ a museum spokesman said.
â€œIt is a very significant find. It is a very large haul and it is the fourth large Viking find in the UK. Because it is recently discovered there is lots of research to be done.â€
Experts believe the hoard, which also includes 10 arm rings, two finger rings, 14 ingots, six brooch fragments and a fine wire braid which may have been worn as a necklace, could have been buried by a Viking warrior before he went into battle.
The collection of 10 bracelets and other jewellery are thought to have been worn to signify rank of the influential owner.
Dr Gareth Williams, the curator of early medieval coins at the museum, said: “Some of the coins reinforce the things we already know but with some of them it fills in the gaps where we didn’t even know we had gaps.
“It is always great when you get a new piece of evidence. This is the first new medieval King for at least 50 years and the first Viking King discovered since 1840. It is a very exciting find.”
It was found in September by Darren Webster, 39 using a metal detector on land around Silverdale, in north Lancashire.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
Ring with precious stones
An Austrian residing in or near the city of Wiener Neustadt, referred to in news accounts only as “Andreas K.”, was digging to expand a small pond in his backyard garden in 2007 when he discovered a medieval horde of 200 pieces of jewelry, buckles, and silver plates embedded with precious stones, pearls, and fossilized coral.
The finder failed to recognize their value at the time, and simply placed all the objects in a box. He sold his house and moved in 2009, at which time he happened to glance in the box previously stored in the basement. The dirt covering the object had dried and begun to fall off revealing jewels and precious metals.
The finder made inquiries on the Internet and knowledgeable collectors advised him to contact the Bundesdenkmalamt Ã–sterreich (BDA), the Austrian Heritage Office.
The BDA press office released a news report on Friday, but it is obvious that the objects have yet to be seriously analyzed and evaluated.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
Belt buckle with pearl inlay
Archaeology, Britain, England, Frome, History, Metal Detecting, Roman Coin Hoard, Somerset, Treasure
A man with a metal detector has made one of the largest finds of Roman coins in Britain.
The hoard of around 52,000 coins dating from the third century AD was found buried in a field near Frome in Somerset.
The coins were in a huge jar just over a foot below the surface, located by Dave Crisp from Devizes in Wiltshire.
Archaeologists believe the hoard, which sheds light on the economic crisis and coalition government in the 3rd century under Emperor Carausius, will rewrite the history books. …
It is thought the Â£250,000 find – known as the Frome Haul – represents the biggest single haul ever unearthed in Britain.
The hoard is one of the largest ever found in Britain, and will reveal more about the nation’s history in the third century, said Roger Bland, of the British Museum.
One of the most important aspects of the hoard is that it contains a large group of coins of Carausius, who ruled Britain independently from AD 286 to AD 293 and was the first Roman emperor to strike coins in Britain.
The hoard contains over 760 of his coins, making it the largest group of his coins ever found.
It is estimated the coins were worth about four years’ pay for a legionary soldier.
Carausius was a Roman naval officer who seized power in 286 and ruled until he was assassinated in 293.
‘The late third century A.D. was a time when Britain suffered barbarian invasions, economic crises and civil wars,’ Bland said.
Metal detecting is a popular working man’s hobby here in the United States as well, but Americans can expect to find some coins or possibly Civil War relics. In Britain, there is a lot more history, and a lot older and more valuable treasure lying right in the fields.
The Daily Mail has terrific coverage of a spectacular new find.
The largest haul of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found has been discovered by a metal detector enthusiast on farmland in Staffordshire, it was revealed today.
Experts say the hoard, which is at least as significant as any other treasure from the Anglo-Saxon era ever unearthed, is worth millions and could have belonged to a king.
The discovery of at least 1,345 different items, thought to date back to the seventh century, is expected to redefine perceptions of the period.
Terry Herbert, from Burntwood, Staffordshire, came across the collection as he searched a field near his home with his trusty 14-year-old detector and is now in line for a seven-figure sum.
It had been hidden for more than 1,300 years but was recently thrown up by ploughing and amazingly, some was just sitting on the top of the ground.
Experts have already examined the 1,345 items but another 56 clods of earth have been X-rayed and are known to hold more metal artefacts, meaning the figure is likely to rise to around 1,500.
At least 650 are gold, weighing more than than 5kg, and another 530 are silver, weighing around 1kg. This is far bigger than previous finds – including the Sutton Hoo burial site in Suffolk.
Many of the items in the hoard are warfare paraphernalia inlaid with precious stones, including sword pommel caps and hilt plates.
Experts say it is the best example of Anglo-Saxon workmanship they have ever seen and may have belonged to Saxon royalty, possibly the King of Mercia.’
Archaeology expert Leslie Webster, who used to work at the British Museum, said: ‘(It is) absolutely the equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells.’
It was officially declared treasure by a coroner today, which means the haul will now be valued by committee of experts before being offered for sale.
They may take more than a year to value the collection and, given its scale, the financial worth will be massive.
Once a valuation and sale is complete, its market value will be split between Mr Herbert, who is unemployed, and the owner of the farmland where it was found.
Roger Bland, head of portable antiquities and treasure at the British Museum: ‘I can’t say anything other than we expect it to be a seven-figure sum.’
Hat tip to Bird Dog.
The gold-proud of warriors, trod the mould grassy, exulting in gold-store.
–Beowulf (William Morris translation)
You can gloat over the treasure hoard looted from those puny Christians, just like a true follower of Odin, at the Staffordshire Hoard web-site.
In the end, a contractor who found $182,000 in Depression-era currency hidden in bathroom walls received just a few thousand dollars and, he feels, some vindication.
The discovery amounted to little more than grief for the contractor, Bob Kitts, who could not agree on how to divide the money with the homeâ€™s owner, Amanda Reece.
It did not help Ms. Reeceâ€™s financial situation either. She testified in a deposition that she was considering bankruptcy, and a bank recently foreclosed on one of her properties.
As for the 21 descendants of Patrick Dunne â€” a wealthy businessman who stashed money that was minted in a time of bank collapses and joblessness, only to have it divvied up decades later in a somewhat similar economic climate â€” they will each get a small fraction of the find.
â€œI called it the greed case,â€ said Gid Marcinkevicius, a lawyer who represents the Dunne estate.
â€œIf these two individuals had sat down and resolved their disputes and divided the money, the heirs would have had no knowledge of it,â€ Mr. Marcinkevicius said. â€œBecause they were not able to sit down and divide it in a rational way, they both lost.â€
Mr. Kitts, who called his discovery â€œthe ultimate contractor fantasy,â€ was tearing out the bathroom walls of an 83-year-old home near Lake Erie on a spring day in 2006 when he discovered two green lockboxes suspended by a wire below the medicine chest. Inside were envelopes with the return address for the P. Dunne News Agency.
â€œI ripped the corner off of one,â€ Mr. Kitts said in a deposition in a lawsuit filed by Mr. Dunneâ€™s estate. â€œI saw a 50 and got a little dizzy.â€
Inside the envelopes was $157,000. And a cardboard box in another wall held about $25,000.
Mr. Kitts called Ms. Reece, who had hired him for a remodeling project, at work. She got there within 45 minutes.
They counted the cash, piled it on the dining room table and posed for photographs. Both grinned like lottery jackpot winners holding an oversize check.
But how to share? She offered 10 percent. He wanted 40 percent. From there things went sour.
Read the whole thing.
Two amateur treasure hunters are in line for a pay-out of up to Â£500,000 after a small pot they found buried in a field turned out to contain the most important hoard of Viking silver and gold found in this country for 150 years.
Packed inside the ornately carved 8th century silver gilt pot, experts at the British Museum found 617 coins, jewellery and ingots from as far afield as Samarkand, Afghanistan, Russia, France, and Ireland. The pot had been buried in a field near Harrogate in Yorkshire, probably in the year 927.
“This really is the world in a vessel,” said Jonathan Williams, the keeper of European pre-history at the British Museum, where the treasure was put on display yesterday. “It is a quite incredible find and a very special moment for us at the museum.”
The discovery was made in January – but kept secret until yesterday – by father and son David and Andrew Whelan, from Leeds. They had spent hundreds of hours over the past three years scouring local fields with metal detectors without finding anything of value.
After the North Yorkshire coroner yesterday declared the find to be treasure – entitling the Whelans to half its value and the farmer on whose land it was discovered to the other half – David Whelan, 51, described his moment of triumph as “a thing of dreams”.
Once cleaned, the pot was found to be silver gilt, possibly an ecclesiastical vessel plundered from northern France. It is carved with vines, leaves and six hunting scenes showing lions, stags and a horse.
The value of the hoard is to be determined by an independent tribunal, but yesterday it was conservatively put at Â£750,000, although some suggested that it might be worth more than Â£1 million.
Mr Whelan, of Leeds, who spends his weekends metal detecting with his son Andrew, 35, a surveyor, added: “It’s a thing of dreams to find something like this. If we had found one coin we would have been over the moon.”
Unveiled at the British Museum, the ‘Harrogate hoard’ includes a decorated gilt and silver cup, 617 silver coins, a solid gold arm ring, brooch pins and various lumps of unworked silver.
Experts said the five-inch cup – which is decorated with animal motifs – was made in northern France in the 9th Century and was probably used in church services.
The coins date from the 10th Century and come from all over Anglo-Saxon England as well as from parts of Asia.
The necklaces, one of which is made of solid gold, are evidence that the hoard belonged to a Viking noble.
Barry Ager, curator of European objects at the British Museum, said: “It is an extremely exciting find, not just because it is the biggest and best for 150 years. The fact that the items come from all over the world shows the huge extent of the Vikings’ commercial links.”
Mr Ager said the haul would have either been amassed through trade or may have been looted.
He said it is likely that its owner would have buried it for safekeeping in 927 when the Anglo-Saxons under King Athelstan drove the Vikings out of northern England.
My guess is that the “150 year” reference is to the Lewis chessmen found circa 1831.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
Deep-sea explorers said Friday they have mined what could be the richest shipwreck treasure in history: 17 tons of colonial-era silver and gold coins estimated to be worth $500 million.
A jet chartered by Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration landed in the United States recently with hundreds of plastic containers brimming with coins raised from the ocean floor, Odyssey co-chairman Greg Stemm said. The more than 500,000 pieces are expected to fetch an average of $1,000 each from collectors and investors.
“For this colonial era, I think (the find) is unprecedented,” said rare coin expert Nick Bruyer, who examined a batch of coins from the wreck. “I don’t know of anything equal or comparable to it.”
Citing security concerns, the company declined to release any details about the ship or the wreck site Friday. Stemm said a formal announcement will come later, but court records indicate the coins might come from a 400-year-old ship found off England.
Because the shipwreck was found in a lane where many colonial-era vessels went down, there is still some uncertainty about its nationality, size and age, Stemm said, although evidence points to a specific known shipwreck. The site is beyond the territorial waters or legal jurisdiction of any country, he said. …
He wouldn’t say if the loot was taken from the same wreck site near the English Channel that Odyssey recently petitioned a federal court for permission to salvage.
In seeking exclusive rights to that site, an Odyssey attorney told a federal judge last fall that the company likely had found the remains of a 17th-century merchant vessel that sank with valuable cargo aboard, about 40 miles off the southwestern tip of England. A judge signed an order granting those rights last month.
In keeping with the secretive nature of the project dubbed “Black Swan,” Odyssey also isn’t talking yet about the types, denominations and country of origin of the coins.
Bruyer said he observed a wide range of varieties and dates of likely uncirculated currency in much better condition than artifacts yielded by most shipwrecks of a similar age.
The Black Swan coins – mostly silver pieces – likely will fetch several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars each, with some possibly commanding much more, he said.
AP 1:14 video