Detector's coin find 'pure fate'

A metal detector enthusiast who discovered one of the largest Anglo-Saxon coin hoards ever found in Britain described it as "pure fate" as the treasure went on display at the British Museum.

Paul Coleman, 59, from Southampton, found more than 5,200 silver coins from the 11th century in the village of Lenborough, Buckinghamshire, during a Christmas dig on December 21.

He said that finding treasure for the first time in 40 years as a metal detector fan felt "like winning the pools" as the coins were put on show for the public at the museum in Bloomsbury, central London.

The 5,200 coins discovered in the village of Lenborough, Buckinghamshire

The 5,200 coins discovered in the village of Lenborough, Buckinghamshire

His is the biggest Anglo-Saxon coin hoard found since the Treasure Act began in 1996 and includes coins from the reigns of kings Ethelred the Unready (978-1013 and 1014-1016) and Canute the Great (1016-1035).

"It was just another day's metal detecting," Mr Coleman joked. "It was almost like it was written on the cards. It was a long way to go, about 120 miles - we wouldn't normally travel that distance to go metal-detecting.

"On the day it just seemed to be a thing that was bound to happen anyway, it was so natural and I can't explain that.

"It's like when you win something on a raffle and you have a sixth sense that it was going to happen. I had that feeling, that the day was going to end well."

Self-employed Mr Coleman said he had been convinced to go by his son Liam and a friend at the last minute, adding: "Boy, am I glad."

There has been speculation that the hoard, which is in good condition, could possibly be worth as much as £1.3 million, which Mr Coleman would have to split with the landowner.

Refusing to be drawn on how much money he was hoping for, Mr Coleman said that he was planning to buy a bigger house if he does see any cash from the find.

"I'm originally from Liverpool and we have got relatives up there, so it would be nice to be able to put them up if they come to stay," he said.

Asked what it felt like to see the coins on display in the British Museum, Mr Coleman said it was "staggering".

Gareth Williams, curator of early medieval coinage at the British Museum, explained that the penny coins added up to £21 and two marks and would have bought around 1,000 sheep at the time they were minted.

Up to 45 different coin mints have been identified within the hoard, which is effectively two hoards within one, Mr Williams said.

He explained that it was buried towards the end of the reign of King Canute.

The coins are likely to have been the accumulated savings of someone living late in the reign of King Ethelred and a larger sum from a generation later.

"It is several times the annual rent of the entire parish of Lenborough at the time it was buried.

"It is not Ferrari-level of luxury but it is significant wealth."

Asked why the treasure might have been buried at the site it was found, Mr Williams said: "It is buried in a small, not particularly significant parish.

"Hoards are often buried quite deliberately away from anything because that meant that whoever buried it could be certain of not being observed at the time."

Mr Williams explained that although the coins were found close to the old Buckingham mint, they have nothing to do with it and only one has been found so far from Buckingham.

If the coins are declared treasure by a coroner they will be valued and later offered to a museum, with Buckinghamshire County Museum their most likely destination.

The coins were unveiled to coincide with the museum's 2012 treasure report, presented by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey and British Museum director Neil MacGregor.

Mr Vaizey said: "This morning is a bit like being at the Baftas, there are so many snappers taking pictures.

"That's because these are extraordinary finds, they really do touch us in an incredible way."

Other objects which went on display included a Bronze Age bracelet hoard from Wollaston, Gloucestershire, featuring eight gold bracelets probably belonging to a child and dating to around 1400 to 1100 BC.

Another highlight was a Viking hoard from the west coast of Cumbria which features a total of 19 silver objects including ingots and fragments of arm rings, dating from the 9th to the 10th centuries AD.

And the museum also presented a Bronze Age gold lunula - a crescent moon-shaped neck pendant - from Tarrant Valley, Dorset, which has been dated to between 2100 and 1400 BC, and a gold reliquary from Skellow, South Yorkshire, from the 17th or early 18th century AD.

The largest Anglo Saxon treasure hoard found so far consisted of more than 3,500 items from around the 7th or 8th centuries AD discovered near Lichfield in Staffordshire in July 2009.

It includes sword pommels, helmet parts and processional crosses valued at more than £3 million.

Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article.