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An historic treasure trove
Aug. 30, 2019
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by Ivan Raconteur

Finding buried treasure is something a lot of people think about at one time or another. A story published by BBC News this week highlights some metal detectorists for whom that dream became a reality.

I learned a new word there. I hadn’t heard (or read) the term “metal detectorist” before, but I’m tempted to learn more about the subject.

A detectorist is a person who uses a metal detector as a hobby.

According to the story, a group of detecorists found 2,528 silver coins in the Chew Valley, northeast Somerset.

The coins date back to 1066.

Readers who remember their world history will recall the significance of that year. It was in that year the English forces of King Harold II were defeated by the Norman forces of William, Duke of Normandy (subsequently known as William the Conqueror) at the Battle of Hastings.

This ended Harold’s reign (he was killed in the battle), and signalled the Norman conquest of England.

On Christmas Day, 1066, William was crowned the first Norman king of England, in Westminster Abbey, and the Anglo-Saxon phase of English history came to an end. French became the language of the king’s court, and gradually blended with the Anglo-Saxon tongue to give birth to modern English.

To me, the history of this discovery is even more exciting than the value of the treasure.

That doesn’t mean I don’t find the value of the find exciting – I just find history more interesting.

Some of the coins actually depict both the defeated King Harold II and the triumphant William the Conqueror. That’s pretty cool.

It should be noted the coins have not yet been officially declared “treasure.”

According to the BBC story, “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

“The act contains a number of definitions of ‘treasure,’ including prehistoric objects, coins that contain gold or silver and are at least 300 years old, or more recent valuable objects that have been deliberately hidden.

“If the find is declared treasure, the finder must offer it for sale to a museum at a price set by the British Museum’s Treasure Valuation Committee.

“A reward is then offered to the finders and other relevant parties.”

The process of having a find declared as treasure sounds like a fascinating adventure on its own.

I haven’t used a metal detector, but stories like this tend to make me dream about the possibilities.

The odds of finding a trove of English gold in Minnesota are probably slim, but there could be other things of historic or monetary value that might be fun to discover if a guy had the time and motivation to look for them.


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