A metal detector enthusiast followed his instincts and hit the jackpot of a lifetime. Paul Coleman, 60, discovered a basket with 5,248 Anglo-Saxon silver pennies dating back 1,000 years with his device.
“When the detector started beeping, it felt like the size of a manhole cover and that caused me to nearly not dig it up,” says Coleman, of Southampton.
Coleman is a member of the Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club and found the trove while hunting with the group.
Coin experts estimate the find is worth more than $1.6 million and is tied to the reign of Ethelred the Unready in the 990s.
The coins were fortuitously inscribed with his surname. “I joked that the hoard had my name on it – I didn’t realize it literally did,” he says.
The United Kingdom has officially declared the discovery a treasure trove, so Coleman cannot keep the coins since they now belong to the Crown.
A Buckinghamshire County Museum in Aylesbury has put in an offer for the coins, according to BBC. However, Coleman and the landowner will receive a reward for finding the treasure.
“Our trustees will make a decision as to whether or not we are going to try to raise the money,” said Brett Thorn of the museum.
“Hopefully we will be able to, as we feel it is important to keep this in Buckinghamshire and keep it available in public hands for future research.”
The value will be decided in January and Mr Coleman and the landowner can expect to receive a reward. Coleman says he plans on sharing the reward with the others who were present during the excavation.
The Mirror reports that in 2009, Terry Hubert found 3,500 silver and gold items in Staffordshire.
The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery bought the collection for over $4 million, which was shared between Hubert and farmer Fred Johnson.
Sources: BBC, The Mirror / Photo credit: The Mirror/John Gladwin