A real trea­sure trove

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - PEOPLEANDPLACES -

SEN­SA­TIONAL hoard of an­cient coins worth more than £1 mil­lion has been found by mem­bers of a metal de­tect­ing group in a field near Ayles­bury dur­ing a Christ­mas dig.

More than 100 peo­ple from Week­end Wan­der­ers De­tect­ing Club turned out to take part in the fes­tive hunt and were stunned to find the col­lec­tion of more than 5,000 sil­ver coins, thought to be more than 1,000 years old.

The per­fectly pre­served pieces, which fea­ture the faces of An­glo Saxon kings, were in a lead bucket which was buried two feet un­der­ground.

The club’s founder and leader, 56-yearold Pete Welch said: “They’re like mir­rors, no scratch­ing, and buried re­ally care­fully in a lead con­tainer, deep down.

“It looks like only two peo­ple have han­dled th­ese coins. The per­son who made them and the per­son who buried them.

“I’m just hop­ing that th­ese coins will end up in a mu­seum for the pub­lic to see. I wouldn’t want to see them go to a pri­vate col­lec­tor.”

Kings fea­tured on the coins in­clude Ethelred the Un­ready (978-1016 AD) and Canute (1016-1035 AD).

Mr Welch added: “We don’t know how many vari­a­tions of the coins there are and when we do we will know how sig­nif­i­cant the find is. This would have been a huge amount of money in its day. One coin alone would have been a lot back then.

“Ev­ery­one dreams of a pot of gold. The re­al­ity is you spend most of your time dig­ging up bits of junk. The ex­cite­ment was elec­tric as more pieces of the box were lifted from the ground. We saw layer upon layer of coins. Ev­ery­one gasped as we re­alised this was some­thing ma­jor.

“Early in­di­ca­tions are that the hoard may be linked to the Nor­man in­va­sion in 1066. We think a quick decision was made to hide the coins as Wil­liam the Con­queror’s army ap­proached the Royal Mint in Buck­ing­ham.”

A Bucks County Mu­seum spokesman said: “This is one of the largest hoards of An­glo Saxon coins ever found in Bri­tain.

“When the coins have been prop­erly iden­ti­fied and dated, we may be able to guess at why such a great trea­sure was buried.”

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