A hoard of 600 medieval coins worth £150,000 found by amateur detectorists, believed to be the biggest found in decade, has been declared treasure.
Seven men found the coins on the Culden Faw Estate, Buckinghamshire in April 2019 including 12 rare gold nobles from the reign of Edward III.
The find, nicknamed the ‘Hambleden Hoard’, is the biggest gold and silver collection discovered in the UK for a decade.
The men, more used to digging up shotgun shells and thimbles than treasure, were astonished to find coin after coin from the hidden ancient hoard.
Over four days they excavated 627 coins – including 12 ultra-rare full gold nobles from the time of the Black Death.
A hoard of 600 mediaeval coins worth £150,000 was discovered in Buckinghamshire
Dariusz Fijalkowski, Mateusz Nowak Andrew Winter and Tobiasz Nowak discovered the treasure trove
The hoard was unearthed by Andrew Winter, Dom Rapley, Eryk Wierucki, Jaroslaw Giedyna, Dariusz Fijalkowski and brothers Tobiasz and Mateusz Nowak.
What does it mean for a find to be declared treasure?
Anything that can be considered treasure must be reported within 14 days
Once reported, a coroner holds an inquest to determine the importance of the find and whether it can be considered treasure
If it is, a valuation is set for the find and museums can bid for it
The reward is then shared between the finder and the owner of the land where the treasure was found
The team slept in a tent by the hole during the dig to stop potential thieves from taking their haul.
At an inquest last week at Beaconsfield Coroners Court, senior coroner Crispin Butler said the hoard met the criteria for treasure after reading a report by Dr Barrie Cook, a curator at the British Museum.
Mr Butler described the 12 gold nobles from 1346 to 1351 as extremely rare with only 12 known examples found during a 1963 survey.
The rest of the hoard – 547 silver pennies from the reigns of Edward I and II, 21 Irish pennies, 20 continental coins and 27 Scottish pennies from the reign of Alexander III, John Balliol, and Robert the Bruce – were more commonly found.
It will now be left for the museum to negotiate a settlement with the finders and landowners, none of whom was present at the hearing.
Speaking at the time of the find, Mateusz Nowak, a hospital cleaner from Newcastle, said: ‘It felt unreal.
‘After finding the hoard, and then clearing the area, we had to extend the search twice more because we were finding so much.
‘It was a miracle moment after moment for everyone.’
Museums will now be able to bid for the rare coins after they were declared treasure by a coroner
A coroner described the 12 gold nobles from 1346 to 1351 as extremely rare with only 12 known examples found during a 1963 survey
The face value of the coins would be a little over £6 in today’s money but the estimates of their worth range as high as £150,000.
Dariusz Fijalkowski, a father-of-three and machine operator from Bristol, came across the hoard after he had been ‘delighted’ with a thimble he’d found.
He then found two silver coins before teaming up with the other men and added: ‘Special for me was two silver coins.
‘Before that – apart from the thimble – it had been shotgun shells.
‘When I found the coins I was shouting so much because I was so excited.
‘Maybe I should have stayed quiet but I was so happy. For me those coins alone were special. They are small pieces of silver and also a piece of history.
‘But to see what we found in the end. I still can’t believe it.
‘I came away to the rally for a rest because I have three young children. It’s safe to say it was not rest. I can still feel the pressure now. It’s incredible.’
The find was made at an organised rally which was held on a field near Hambleden, a village recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086.
Under the rules of detecting and treasure finding, anything over three coins is considered a ‘hoard’ – meaning it has to be declared to organisers.
The haul includes a number of rare coins, only discovered in the British Isles on one other occasion in 1963 when 12 were found
The group found found 276 silver coins and nine gold nobles on the first day of their search
The area was cleared and claimed jointly by the team who were then left to work alone.
They admit it got ‘absolutely hectic’ when news of the find got round the festival.
Detectorists from all over the world who were at the festival came to take a look, as the four due out coin after coin.
On the first day they found 276 silver coins and nine gold nobles, and all admit they barely slept due to excitement.
Over three days the team’s hoard grew to 545 silver coins plus fragments, and 12 gold nobles.
Some of them have been doing the hobby for less than a year at the time.
Anni Byard, finds liaison officer for the areas was called to oversee the excavation and the location of each coin was painstakingly plotted on a grid.
At the time the men said it would later be independently evaluated before being sold, with the value split with the landowner.