A treasure hunter has found a rare 2,000-year-old Roman pendant in a field in a Cheshire village. Luke Sansom was searching with a metal detector in Farndon, near Chester, when he stumbled across the silver piece. Made with carnelian gemstone, it features a fallen soldier or gladiator holding a shield towards what appears to be a large cat or panther. Cheshire assistant coroner Dr Janet Napier declared the find to be treasure at an inquest at Warrington Town Hall. The pendant will now be valued by the British Museum.
The Grosvenor Museum in Chester has expressed an interest in buying it and Mr Sansom, of Saltney near Chester, would stand to receive half the money, with the rest going to the owner of the field. Elizabeth Montgomery, the museum’s collections officer, said that It is a rare find especially with the image of the soldier fighting with the large cat or panther.
The gemstone certainly dates back to the Roman era around the first century BC but the pendant is a bit older. It is late Roman or early Anglo-Saxon and would have belonged to someone wealthy. Chester had a big Roman military garrison but this was found outside the city walls.
Research by the BBC has revealed Norfolk as the best spot for treasure hunters. But is everything as it seems? Of all the treasures found in the ground, fewer than 5% are discovered by professional archaeologists. More than 90% are unearthed by amateur treasure hunters armed with metal detectors – devices originally devised for hunting down land mines. Recent finds include a hoard of Roman coins in Herefordshire, a collection of Norman and Anglo-Saxon coins in Buckinghamshire and collection of Viking jewellery in North Yorkshire. But one county in England boasts more treasure finds each year than Herefordshire, Buckinghamshire and North Yorkshire combined: Norfolk.
Coroner figures (treasure is declared such by coroners) for the past three years reveal the county has on average 116 treasure finds a year, followed by Essex with 71, Suffolk with 65 and Lincolnshire with 59. Coventry, Bristol and the City of York, on the other hand, have not had a single treasure declaration in three years.
The BBC’s map of treasure does seem to reflect the sites of the much older major cities such as Norwich, Lincoln, York, Bristol, Ipswich and Winchester. But while finds might reflect historical areas of settlement, far more important, says Dr Lewis, are the activities of the people who make the finds. East Anglia – an area of arable farmland – and the flats of Lincolnshire are simply easier to metal detect on than hilly farmland in, say, Cumbria or the Pennines. Metal detectorists cannot detect in built-up urban environments, meaning town centre finds – such as the Fenwick Treasure in Colchester – are nearly always made by archaeologists brought in as part of a redevelopment. In the 1980s, archaeologists and metal detectorists were at war over the nation’s subterranean heritage. But in the 20 years since the PAS set out clear guidance for the reporting of finds by the public, the relationship between responsible detectorists and archaeologists has thawed.
All finds should be reported to one of the country’s 37 finds liaison officers (FLO). Between them, they have collated details of more than one million finds since the scheme started. Dr Lewis said of the 80,000 finds reported each year only 1,000 or so were treasure. The location of treasure finds also reflects the regional vibrancy of a metal detecting as a hobby and – in some instances – the talent of the detectorist. The first areas to have FLOs were Kent, Norfolk, the West Midlands, North Lincolnshire, north-west England and Yorkshire. Four of these regions feature towards the top of the treasure finds list.
Roman and medieval artefacts have been found in a new archaeological dig in the centre of Leicester. The dig, at the former Southgates Bus Depot and on Peacock Lane, has uncovered fragments of wall, mosaic pavement and painted wall plaster. The site is close to Leicester’s historic centre, where the remains of Richard III were found in 2012. Other artefacts include coins, tableware, game counters, a number of bone hair pins and a copper spoon.
The University of Leicester team said the excavation would offer insights into the lifestyles and industry of the people living along one of Leicester’s principle medieval streets. Archaeologist John Thomas said: Having the chance to excavate in this part of Leicester is fantastic. Because of the historic nature of the modern city centre, archaeologists rarely get the opportunity to explore this part of the city. He said a number of large stone and timber buildings and boundary walls, dating from the 2nd Century through to the 4th Century had been identified running along the sides of the streets.
Fellow archaeologist Mathew Morris added: “This part of Roman Leicester is very poorly understood, because there has been little previous archaeological investigation in the vicinity. One of the Roman streets found on the site has never been seen before in Leicester and isn’t on any of our plans of the Roman city. This is a significant find and raises exciting new questions about the layout of the early Roman town and how it evolved through the Roman period.”
A rare Viking hoard of arm rings, coins and silver ingots has been unearthed in Oxfordshire. The hoard was buried near Watlington around the end of the 870s, in the time of the “Last Kingdom”. This was when the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex were fighting for their survival from the threat of the Vikings, which was to lead to the unification of England. Archaeologists have said the hoard is a nationally significant find.
The hoard was discovered by 60-year-old metal detectorist James Mather using an XP Deus metal detector.
He said: “I hope these amazing artefacts can be displayed by a local museum to be enjoyed by generations to come.”
The find in October was lifted in a block of soil and brought to the British Museum, where it was excavated and studied by experts from the British Museum in London and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The hoard consists of 186 coins – some fragmentary – and includes rarities from the reign of King Alfred “the Great” of Wessex, who reigned from 871 to 899, and King Ceolwulf II, who reigned in Mercia from 874 to 79. During this period, King Alfred achieved a decisive victory over the Vikings at the famous Battle of Edington in 878, prompting them to move north of the Thames and travel to East Anglia through the kingdom of Mercia.
Gareth Williams, curator of early medieval coinage at the British Museum, said it was a key moment in English history as Alfred forged a new kingdom of England by taking control of Mercia. This hoard has the potential to provide important new information on relations between Mercia and Wessex at the beginning of that process.
Seven items of jewellery and 15 ingots were also found. Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, said “Fascinating finds like this Viking hoard are a great example of the one million discoveries that have been unearthed by the public since 1997.”
Under the Treasure Act 1996, there is a legal obligation for finders to report such treasures.
Heritage groups say one of the countryside’s most famous monuments is “under attack” from illegal metal detectorists hunting for buried treasure. But what is “nighthawking” – and is it robbing us of our past? “See a penny, pick it up and all that day you’ll have good luck” – it’s something we’ve all told ourselves on those harmless occasions we’ve spotted small change on the ground. But there are times when pocketing the odd silver or gold coin truly breaks the law. Illegal metal detecting – or “nighthawking” as it is more commonly known – is sweeping the spine of the east of England, heritage groups say, robbing us of our chance to examine the past and causing damage and strife to landowners. England’s earliest settlements – areas such as Lincolnshire, Sussex, East Anglia and Kent – are some of those suffering the most at the hands of criminals churning up the land in the hope of finding valuable relics left by our ancestors. Hadrian’s Wall in the Northumberland National Park is one of the most recent places to come under attack, with unlawful excavations being carried out at Steel Rigg and Peel Crags. Though it is only the second time it has been targeted in five years, the site is listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument – an archaeologically and nationally important location where it is a criminal offence to use metal detecting equipment without permission from English Heritage.
Metal detectorist in Buckinghamshire have unearthed one of largest hoards of ancient coins ever found in Britain. Paul Coleman from the Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club discovered 5,251 coins buried inside a lead container two feet deep near Aylesbury. The hoard contains specimen dating back to the 11th Century – the late Anglo Saxon, early Norman period. The coins will now be examined by the British Museum. Mr Coleman, from Southampton, was taking part in a dig in the Padbury area on 21 December when he found the 5,251 coins depicting the heads of kings Ethelred the Unready and Canute. It is thought the hoard might be worth over £1 mln.
This morning we had an opportunity to see Regton’s Managing Director Nigel Ingram on BBC’s Fake Britain. If you missed the programme this morning you can catch up on BBC iPlayer
In this episode Nigel is testing counterfeit Garrett security scanners which infiltrated UK market. He is also talking about very popular among metal detectorists, Garrett pin point probe. Nigel helps the viewers to see the difference between an original device and its forged copy.
Do not be tempted to buy cheap forgeries from unknown sellers. Some offers on British market are too good to be true. If ever in doubt just give Regton a call on 0121 359 2379 and we will be happy to help.
We are all very sad to say good bye to our favourite characters from the Detectorists. On a positive note we can proudly say that we supplied some of the metal detectors seen in the program.
Louise the Danebury Metal Detecting Club member and Paul, member of The Antiquisearchers are using our Garrett Ace 250. Andy finds his first gold with the superb XP Deus and Garrett Pro-Pointer points him toward the treasure. Sophie, young History student, chose Eurotek for her first metal detector.
We are truly happy and proud that the equipment from Regton took part in creating such a magnificent program. The show will return for a new series late next year. Can’t wait!
Cameras are now rolling on the new sitcom from “The Office” actor Mackenzie Crook.
Written and directed by the “Pirates Of The Caribbean” star, “Detectorists” is a six-part comedy for BBC Four about two friends who share a passion for metal detecting.
The show will star Mackenzie Crook alongside “The Hunger Games” and “Harry Potter” actor Toby Jones. The duo play Andy and Lance, a pair of metal detector enthusiasts who act like an old married couple when they’re together.
“Detectorists” will be shown on BBC Four in late 2014.