A couple using metal detectors in England discovered a literal treasure trove of more than 2,500 silver coins dating back to the year 1066.
The 2,528 coins were unearthed by meal detectorists Lisa Grace and Adam Staples at a farm field in Chew Valley in Somerset, England, BBC News reported. The coin hoard, which features King Harold II pennies from the end of Anglo-Saxon England and William the Conqueror coins after the 1066 Norman conquest, could be worth around $6 million.
According to the British Museum, the discovery was the second largest find of Norman coins ever in the UK.
The hoard contains 1,236 coins of Harold II, the last crowned Anglo-Saxon king of England, and 1,310 coins of William I. (Photo Credit: Peter Summers / Getty Images)
“It was totally unbelievable — to find one would be an exceptional day metal detecting,” Staples told the BBC. “To find two unrelated coins would be almost impossible.”
The couple said a friend first came across a single William the Conqueror silver coin.
“And when there were more beeps, from two to 10, from 50 to 100, to wow how many are there?” said Staples. “From then on it was just crazy.”
Staples said it took four or five hours to dig up all 2,528 coins.
Adam Staples and Lisa Grace unearthed the hoard at a farm field in Chew Valley, in Somerset, England. (Photo Credit: Peter Summers / Getty Images)
The couple went on to report their find to authorities as required by UK law, and the coins were soon sent to the British Museum in London for evaluation. Experts at the museum have spent the last seven months assessing and cataloguing the hoard, which 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.
Experts at the Museum called the hoard “massively important.” One possible reason? It has revealed a millennium-old tax scam.
Gareth Williams, the museum’s curator of early medieval coinage, told the Guardianthree of the coins have been identified as “mules,” a combination of two types of coin – essentially an early form of tax-dodging.
The person that made the coins used designs and language that relate to both Harold and William, making it easy to pass them off as legal tender as the average Anglo-Saxon was illiterate and the images of the kings looked similar, as per the Guardian.
Stephen Clews, from the Roman Baths in Bath, England — which hopes to acquire the coins — told the BBC the total hoard value would have been enough to buy a flock of 500 sheep in 1067-68.
While the coins have not been officially valued, they could be worth about £5 million (around $6 million) now. Staples said the amount they get would be shared among the whole group that went on the treasure-hunting trip and the landowner.