It is fitting that, following Geoffrey Bennett’s last post on the Treasure Act consultations in the UK, this piece would also touch on a topic close to our hearts: the law of treasure. For four men in England last month the dream of finding treasure became a reality. While partaking in a four day long amateur metal detecting rally in Buckinghamshire they stumbled upon a hoard of 557 gold and silver coins.
Made up of 12 decorated silver Edward I and Edward II coins, 9 gold nobles and other noteworthy silver coins this hoard provides an interesting glimpse into the 13thcentury. The location of each coin has been plotted to ensure as much context information is retained. In total the hoard could be worth up to £150,000, a nice reward to be split between the finders and the landowner as provided by the Treasure Act 1996 at section 10 and the associated Code of Practice.
After excavating the gold nobles on the first day, the four finders slept in tents at the site of their find in order to deter thieves. Nighthawks are a problem in areas rich in finds, and metal detecting rallies can be a further attraction for them. Luckily, most treasure finds made by metal detectorists are reported and this has contributed to the success of the Treasure Act and the associated Portable Antiquities Scheme, and the need to consider revising the Act to ensure it continues to protect these finds for the public benefit. For now the coins are being kept in the local museum until they are declared treasure and valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee, after which a museum may buy them at their valued price.
Image credit: Portable Antiquities Scheme, Ros Tyrrell, CC BY.