Insert Obligatory Detectorists Reference Here
August 28, 2019 11:33 AM   Subscribe

A huge hoard of silver coins dating to the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings was found in the Chew Valley, north-east Somerset. Lisa Grace and Adam Staples, who unearthed the bulk of the hoard, said: "We've been dreaming of this for 15 years but it's finally come true."

The hoard contains 1,236 coins of Harold II, the last crowned Anglo-Saxon king of England, and 1,310 coins of William I, as well as several coin fragments. If it is officially declared as treasure, the Roman Baths in Bath, which is in the Chew Valley, hopes to acquire the coins. Stephen Clews, from the Roman Baths, said: "If you look at the true value of this, it's about 500 sheep - that's what you would have been to able to buy with them about 1,000 years ago."

More about detectorists in real life here and on television here.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure (34 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
I, too, am waiting to be officially declared treasure.
posted by xingcat at 11:41 AM on August 28, 2019 [28 favorites]


It's a cool find, but did they really dig all of them up right then and there? Is it farm land that's been all churned up already? All I can think is "What about all that lost context? What about any other artifacts in there?" Ugh.
posted by gemmy at 11:41 AM on August 28, 2019 [7 favorites]


Those coins seem quite flimsy, like silver foil. They are very bent and broken.
posted by Bee'sWing at 11:44 AM on August 28, 2019


Those coins seem quite flimsy, like silver foil. They are very bent and broken.

So "The pound took a beating today" is something that was heard on the news even that long ago...
posted by DreamerFi at 11:48 AM on August 28, 2019 [10 favorites]


Under the Treasure Act 1996, finders of potential treasure in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are legally obliged to notify their local coroner

An inquest then determines whether the finds constitute treasure


Ah!

Detectorists is a great series, and that answers a question I had about the specifics about what happens after a major find.

Stephen Clews, from the Roman Baths, said: "If you look at the true value of this, it's about 500 sheep - that's what you would have been to able to buy with them about 1,000 years ago.

I hope he has a business card that reads only:

Stephen Clews

Roman Baths

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:51 AM on August 28, 2019 [6 favorites]


Those coins seem quite flimsy, like silver foil. They are very bent and broken.

They appear to mostly be silver pennies, which were typically about 1.2g and 19mm in diameter. By comparison a US penny is 2.5g and 19mm. So it's about half as much material in the same package.

In total it's only about $2k worth of silver metal. The value is almost entirely in their rarity and historical value.
posted by jedicus at 11:52 AM on August 28, 2019 [8 favorites]


I wonder if they could be cut up.

Hmmm?
posted by Fizz at 12:02 PM on August 28, 2019 [1 favorite]


Continuing with the Detectorists references:

Just give it to Mackenzie Crook. He always looks so sad.
posted by supercres at 12:03 PM on August 28, 2019 [3 favorites]


The Treasure Act of 1996 sounds awesome. A coroner's inquest to determine whether something is treasure! Why do I have to live in the stupid boring United States.
posted by something something at 12:06 PM on August 28, 2019 [4 favorites]


Was anyone else slightly disappointed to not see a picture of the whole pile?
posted by turtlebackriding at 12:07 PM on August 28, 2019 [8 favorites]


The English silver penny of the Middle Ages was, in fact, meant to be cut up (usually into quarters). Merchants carried metal snips, and in this way, were able to provide change in a society with limited coin demarcations.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:10 PM on August 28, 2019 [23 favorites]


All I can think is "What about all that lost context? What about any other artifacts in there?" Ugh.

As you say, it may have been farmland that has been plowed for years or even centuries. But also, the thing with hoards is that there often isn't very much context to be had. A grave can be very useful, in that a) it is often close to a settlement, and can tell you things about the activities that went on around it; and b) the objects in it were often placed in ways that had very important ritual meanings.

A hoard, on the other hand, is often just a pile of money and other random things of value, hidden away in some hard-to-get-to-place. Lack of context is what makes it an attractive place to stash your stuff.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:17 PM on August 28, 2019 [14 favorites]


If the hoarder was carrying coins of both mints, he might have had quite the reason to want it buried.
posted by ocschwar at 12:19 PM on August 28, 2019 [6 favorites]


Is it farm land that's been all churned up already?

I think with the Chew Valley, it's most likely to be grazing land, although there's a fair amount of little-used woodland as well that might not have had a huge amount done to it in the past 1000 years, too. It's rolling countryside, so no one's going to be making any big changes to field boundaries unless it's one of the large (5-10 acre) fields in the flatter part of the district.
posted by ambrosen at 12:25 PM on August 28, 2019 [2 favorites]


The English silver penny of the Middle Ages was, in fact, meant to be cut up

So like how a US quarter dollar is "two bits," two bits of a dollar (a Spanish silver dollar is a piece of eight.)
posted by Bee'sWing at 12:47 PM on August 28, 2019 [3 favorites]


The original alloy of United States dimes consisted of 89.24% silver and 10.76% copper, weighed 2.7 g and had a diameter of 19 mm. Compared to the classic silver Roosevelt dime composition of 90% silver and 10% copper, slightly smaller at 17.9 mm and somewhat lighter at 2.5 g.May 4, 2019
That's quite a coin-cidence, if coincidence it is.
posted by jamjam at 12:58 PM on August 28, 2019 [1 favorite]


Obligatory Detectorists reference acts as batsignal to me and I am hearing all the quotes in the article in Mackenzie Crook's voice with soft guitar music in the background.
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:13 PM on August 28, 2019


So, it was... dirty money?



I'll get me coat
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:28 PM on August 28, 2019 [5 favorites]


What with this news from yesterday, it looks like Detectorists series 4 is writing itself.

(I read the closing quote in Terry's voice).
posted by Balthamos at 2:32 PM on August 28, 2019 [4 favorites]


The Mildenhall Treasure [PDF]
posted by chavenet at 4:06 PM on August 28, 2019 [4 favorites]


"It was like the gods didn't want to disturb the hoard... We were wet through but it really didn't seem to matter."

HUBRIS! The old gods demand a nice curry!
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 4:14 PM on August 28, 2019 [4 favorites]


See also, the Hoxne Hoard.
posted by darkstar at 6:27 PM on August 28, 2019


the thing with hoards is that there often isn't very much context to be had

Yea, guess my experience is mostly in the US, none with the hoard type sites.
posted by gemmy at 6:54 PM on August 28, 2019


And other than some Spanish gold, can't think of any hoards you would find in the US as cool as old roman stuff.

Some cool native stuff from the west maybe, but, not as good a survival rate as metal buried in a chest.
posted by Windopaene at 7:21 PM on August 28, 2019


I think with the Chew Valley, it's most likely to be grazing land

Eponysterical?
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:48 PM on August 28, 2019 [4 favorites]


The Treasure Act of 1996 sounds awesome. A coroner's inquest to determine whether something is treasure! Why do I have to live in the stupid boring United States.

I tell you this: I would have ought a boxed set of Quincy by now if there was more treasure assessment and fewer toxicology screenings.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:11 PM on August 28, 2019 [3 favorites]


Saw some medieval metal coins in an exhibit in York, England. Some were the size of my little fingernail, and all very thin.
posted by SoberHighland at 8:12 PM on August 28, 2019




In other detectorist news:
Metal detectorists taken ill eating 'cannabis cakes' in High Melton

(before it happened, it was just called "Melton")
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:58 AM on August 29, 2019 [6 favorites]


I don't know if this story would have resonated with me if I didn't love "Detectorists." But it's not just the situational likeness. It's really the theme song that impacts how I felt about this story -

Will you search through the lonely earth for me
Climb through the brier and bramble
I'll be your treasure
I felt the touch of the kings and the breath of the wind
I knew the call of all the song birds
They sang all the wrong words
I'm waiting for you
I'm waiting for you

Treasure imagined as something that longs to be discovered by someone in particular makes it all much more romantic...

It's an amazing story and REAL - wow! What an impact it could have on these people's lives!
posted by hiker U. at 7:19 AM on August 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm intrigued by the sharing aspect of this. Apparently, it was a group of four (or five?), plus the landowner gets something. Interesting.
posted by Phreesh at 7:49 AM on August 29, 2019


Maybe this is common knowledge in Europe, but I just watched this Deutsche Welle documentary: “Bombs in the Sea” (42½ min. video, .mp4 link, content warning: photos of injuries) about munitions dumped at sea during the World Wars, and was stunned to learn that a rock you might find on a beach on the North Sea or Baltic Sea could easily be an eroded chunk of explosive or a fragment of an incendiary weapon, to the point that some hospitals regularly receive patients with burn and blast injuries. And in some places “Every fisherman can remember finding a mustard gas shell in his net.”

That's definitely the opposite experience from finding a treasure hoard.
posted by XMLicious at 7:04 AM on September 10, 2019


Well I did read an post on Reddit one from someone who though they had struck oil in their backyard. Turned out to be a septic tank.
posted by bq at 11:05 AM on September 10, 2019 [1 favorite]


We thought it was crude; turns out it was just crud.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:02 PM on September 11, 2019


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