Every cloud has a silver lining – Discovering a Medieval Coin Hoard (Part 2)


Staff member
Mar 26, 2010
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
I left you last time with us having discovered a 700 year old medieval coin hoard and finding a total of 177 silver medieval pennies. The weather had put paid to any further recovery and we had a burning desire to know what else might still lie under the earth in our field of dreams. You will find below the second and concluding part of our tale — I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as we all did experiencing it…..
During late December 2013, the UK in general was in the midst of what can only be described as a monsoon of biblical proportions and unfortunately our scattered hoard site did not escape the deluge. It was like a mini Loch Ness, with the possibility of another monster hoard lurking in the deep recesses of the unknown, waiting to be discovered.

Along with the rest of our detecting team, Sharon and I eventually paid another visit to the hoard field and were shocked to see several ducks happily swimming around in a deep pool that was immediately over the main hoard site. A little upset, but with nothing better to do, we took the opportunity to speak to the farmer to see if he knew when the surface water on the field would drain.

We discussed the flooded field and he informed us that he was going to dig the site and put in new field drains because the problem was an annual occurrence. He went on to say that he would be digging within a couple of metres of where we had found the coins. On learning that we freaked out a little- we had visions of those little silver coins being destroyed by an excavator and we discussed this further with the farmer and explained our fears of what might still be under the ground. Being an exceedingly accommodating gentleman, the farmer agreed that he would call us to let us know when the digging would start so we could come down for another search. However, he warned that it would be at extremely short notice, as he would be begin digging at the earliest opportunity on the first dry day.

Armed with this knowledge, the detecting team was on standby throughout the New Year period at the end of 2013 and into January 2014 and, believe it or not, partying was most definitely on hold. Meanwhile, the nationwide monsoon weather continued to drown the land.

During the long wait we recruited another detectorist to join us in the further recovery of the hoard, Alex Carslaw. He was buzzing with anticipation, and even though he had never found a hammered coin before, we reassured him that his luck was about to change.

The farmer eventually called us late in the evening of Friday 11th January saying that the forecast was good and he was going to start the drainage work at first light the following morning. Needless to say we reacted to this news like starving dogs being thrown a meaty bone. The next morning we were all at the hoard field before first light and met up with the farmer and the digger driver. I had brought both my CTX 3030 and a GPX-4500 I had managed to secure. We immediately tried to discuss our requirements with the farmer and he was extremely sympathetic to our pleadings and agreed to tell the digger driver to proceed under our direct instructions. We asked that he initially only scrape back around 6 inches of where he intended to dig the drainage ditch and the digger driver agreed.

We had split into two teams, one to scan the scrape made by the digger and one to scan the spoil it lifted out - and so the operation commenced. We proceeded to quickly scan the scraped area and the spoil, but the digger was going far faster than we imagined and the scraped drainage area was becoming larger by the second. All the detecting was taking place while trying to dodge the digger bucket — the digger was actually being paid for by the hour and as the farmer was standing there, we thought he must be trying to impress him with his work speed. There were a few scary moments, but the digger driver was extremely professional and promised us a decent burial if we were unlucky enough to get crushed by his machine!
After about 30 minutes one of the team hit the first hammered in the spoil and all digging instantly stopped. We examined the discovery, showing the 13th century coin to both the farmer and the digger driver. They were simply stunned to see a medieval coin for the first time. The farmer was now getting the buzz, and readily agreed to cease all operations until we had given the scraped area a thorough search. It was then things got a little crazy. Signals started leaping out at us from everywhere and everyone was busy digging. Marty started pulling hammered coins from all depths with his Minelab Explorer and was actively having a coin recovery competition with Sharon and her machine. We also all had the pleasure of seeing Alex dig his first hammered coin. When Alex saw that little silver disc the look on his face was a mixture of utter disbelief and jubilation!

By the time the coins were appearing, the farmer had been on the phone and had called three generations of his family to the field to enjoy the experience. Mainly due to the location of the field, the addictive nature of the excitement and the myriad of mobile phones, we soon had more than twenty people on the site watching what was going on. The farmer’s wife also turned up with his young daughter, who instantly wanted to get stuck in and help. We decided to teach her how to detect and within ten minutes of her picking up a CTX 3030 for the first time, she was unearthing her first hammered coin. Start to finish, it was all her own detecting work and we just knew at that moment that she was hooked into the hobby that we all enjoy - she was a natural detectorist!

With everyone furiously searching for hammered coins and plenty of congratulatory shouts bounding about, Alex, with his CTX 3030, hit on what we called the “mother load”. It started when he called me over with my GPX-4500 to check a weak and strange sounding multiple signal, which he thought might be medieval coins. I checked it out and agreed that it was definitely three possible deep coins, but close together and all within a radius of 18 inches. I proceeded to dig the first of the holes and sure enough we had another two coins. Whilst doing this we were in a little world of our own, oblivious to all other operations going on immediately around us. The last of the three signals was a booming one, and it definitely was giving a lead signal on the CTX 3030, but mixed in with a higher pitched, low conductive, ‘silver’ sound.

I tentatively dug a large diameter hole and eased out the soil. Nothing was found in the spoil, but both the probe and GPX-4500 were still picking up the signal at the bottom of the hole. I mentioned to Alex that it was probably lead, but at the time I was unaware of the full capabilities of the GPX on tiny and thin medieval silver hammered coins. Once again I gently cut round the base of the hole and leveraged out more earth. As I lifted the earth to the side of the hole and placed it down, the clod broke open to reveal what can only be described as the most wonderful of sights.

My initial memory was of Alex shouting, “There’s millions of them,” but I could only stare in utter disbelief at what lay before me. We had just unearthed the full remains of the receptacle containing the hoard. It appeared to be the fragmented remnants of a leather pouch, and there were a few small stacks of coins interspersed within the spoil, and what looked like a lead cube. I remember blurting out “it’s the mother load,”, and then recollect being caught up in the crowd euphoria which was erupting all over the place. You could literally feel the joy and jubilation emanating from the crowd. A crowd had gathered around the small piles of coins and were whooping and shouting with delight, hugging and slapping each other on the backs. It truly was another unforgettable moment.

Everybody took photographs and nobody dared touch the coins; we all just stared at them. A discussion was entered into regarding what was best to do next, but as it had started to rain fairly heavily it was obvious that the remains of the purse needed to be recovered quickly and put into separate containers before they were washed away. Marty and Sharon continued to search, with Alex in the background scanning the area on autopilot. We had to physically stop him, virtually prise the CTX 3030 from his hands and tell him to go and chill out with a cup of tea. He had that crazy googly- eyed stare and permanent grin, which I now know as instantly recognisable: hoard fever!
The coin pouch remains were deposited with a local museum, hopefully to be examined and conserved at a later date. The small decorated lead cube was included with the coins in the hoard. The cube looks as though it has two or three strands of twine running through the centre and the outside is crudely decorated with cross hatching and it may have been a kind of drawstring toggle used to seal the pouch, but we shall probably never know a definitive answer. The stacks of coins separated when they were lifted into the containers, although there were a few small stacks remaining. These stacks consisted mainly of debased foreign continental imitations of English coins. These were welded to each other due to the larger copper content of the silver used to make them, which had leached out of the silver during the past 700 years.

At the end of that final day, the hoard totalled 327 medieval silver coins, 326 pennies and 1 halfpenny mostly from the English kings of Edward I, II and III, including some of his Irish coinage. There were around a nine Scottish coins of Alexander III, a single Scottish coin of John Balliol and several European continental imitations and forgeries of the English coins.

When we decided to share this experience with as many people as possible, both inside and outside the hobby, we never expected the positive reaction we would receive. We believed that this type of discovery had never been shared in full before by the detectorists who made it and who could tell the story from start to finish. We never imagined the fuss that finding the hoard and the sharing of the discovery would bring. It all started with us winning the Minelab ‘Find of the Month’. We were then asked to hold a presentation of the coins to the local school children and then held a public presentation for the village located in the area where the hoard was found. It was our only real way of giving a little back to the community that supported us, and continues to do so today. We have also appeared in several magazines, newspapers, television and radio. One question that we are always asked is, “How did you decide to dig there?”

All I can say is that both Sharon and I are passionate about detecting and are extremely hard grafters. Our current record of discovering or being involved in the identification and recovery of at least twelve hoards, will I hope serve to prove our dedication to the hobby. Nothing comes easy for us, as I’m sure most of you are aware, we just do what we do.

All these wonderful discoveries are found only after we spend countless hundreds of hours of detailed research and many long days pounding the fields in all weathers. It is only after going through all this that you may just get that little bit of extra luck, which turns into a lifelong memory: you need to be absolutely relentless in your pursuit and resolute in your attitude, or just plain lucky.

I am sure in years to come, when people ask what it was like, I will always relate it in vivid detail. When I look back it just seems a magical moment frozen for all time. I’ll leave you with the mental image that sums up the discovery of our first significant coin hoard; in the middle of a cold, wet and windy Scottish field, there are two mad detectorists wearing camouflage, rolling in mud, drunk with excitement, launching dozens of hammered silver coins in the air!

Catch you all next time from the wet, windy and mysterious detecting lands of Scotland.


Minelab Treasure Talk I Discovering a Medieval Coin Hoard


Silver Member
Jan 4, 2017
Western ny
Detector(s) used
equinox 800, Whites mx sport, Garrot carrot, bounty hunter time ranger
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Awesome story. so jealous of your history over there

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