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A metal detector and shovel on the beach with coins that might be rare medieval coins. You never know!        Source: andrewbalcombe / Adobe Stock

British Metal Detectorists Find 3 Rare Medieval Coins Worth Thousands!


Three lucky metal detectorists in Britain have uncovered three incredibly rare medieval coins . Two were found by teenage enthusiasts and the third was found by a family. And all these lucky detectorists earned a small fortune from their finds! The medieval coins they found have been sold at auction for thousands of dollars. And they all followed the law!

The First Medieval Coin Find: From The Last Anglo-Saxon King

Reece Pickering, a catering apprentice from Great Yarmouth, was 16 when he found his medieval coin with his metal detector. He discovered the object while searching a field with his father near the village of Topcroft in Norfolk, England. According to Reece’s dad, Jonny Pickering, immediately after the discovery “We knew it was special,” he told the Great Yarmouth Mercury . The father and son took the medieval coin the boy found to an expert and followed all the correct reporting procedures.

Reece Pickering’s rare Henry II silver penny, a remarkable medieval coin find! (Hansons Auctioneers)

Reece Pickering’s rare Henry II silver penny, a remarkable medieval coin find! ( Hansons Auctioneers )

What the teenager had found was a rare Harold II silver penny from 1066. Harold II was the last Anglo-Saxon king and legend has it he was killed by an arrow in the eye at the Battle of Hastings that year. Reece’s father told the Great Yarmouth Mercury that “The coin, which has been recorded with The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, is the only one of its type known to exist.” The teen’s medieval coin find was auctioned recently and fetched £4000 ($5,200), which will be split between the finder and the owner of the land.

Reece Pickering, 17, out metal detecting with his father in Norfolk, England. (Hansons Auctioneers)

Reece Pickering, 17, out metal detecting with his father in Norfolk, England. ( Hansons Auctioneers )

The Second Medieval Coin Find Was Similar But Different

The second rare medieval coin was unearthed by Walter Taylor, 16, from Essex, in a farmer’s field in South Essex. He is quoted by Hanson Auctioneers as saying that “I was constantly digging hot rock (mineralized rock) but finding nothing.” Then suddenly one day the register on his detector rose and he knew he had found something. He was with his father and uncle when he made the discovery. Walter, who has been detecting since he was four, sent a picture of his find to an expert. Walter Taylor, who is still a student, also recorded the find with the relevant authorities.

Walter Taylor’s Henry I rare medieval coin find. (Hansons Auctioneers)

Walter Taylor’s Henry I rare medieval coin find. ( Hansons Auctioneers )

He had found a silver penny from 1106 that was minted in the reign of Henry I, that is “very rare,” Walter told the Hanson Auctioneer . The coin shows the Angevin ruler pointing to a comet. It was minted to commemorate the monarch’s victory at Tinchebrai or Tinchbray, Normandy, in 1106. In this battle Henry I defeated his brother the Duke of Normandy, Robert Curthose, who was captured. This victory ensured that Henry I ruled both England and Normandy and was important in the development of the Angevin Empire .

Walter’s rare medieval coin was sold at auction recently to a British buyer for over £3,000 ($3,900). This money will also be divided between Walter and the owner of the field.

The Third Medieval Coin Find Was Equally Remarkable

The third medieval coin find was discovered by John Denham (64) and his two adult sons when they were out metal detecting in a farmer’s field in, Oxfordshire, England. Mr Denham, a landscaper, stated to Hanson Auctioneers that “We decided to revisit one of our favorite haunts and had been out for around five hours when my detector gave the signal. The coin was buried about four inches deep in the soil.” They knew that they had found something rare and this was confirmed when it was brought to an expert.

John Denham’s Henry of Anjou silver penny. (Hansons Auctioneers)

John Denham’s Henry of Anjou silver penny. ( Hansons Auctioneers )

John had found a silver penny that was minted by Henry of Anjou before he became King Henry II.  It was probably minted during the Anarchy, a brutal civil war that engulfed England and Normandy (1135-1153) and led to the near collapse of English society. This war was fought between the supporters of Empress Matilda, her son Henry, and King Stephen.

The Denham medieval coin was found near Wallingford, an important medieval fortress and the scene of a decisive siege that effectively ended the Anarchy civil war. After the battle ended, King Stephen recognized Henry as his heir. King Stephen died the following year. The BBC quotes Denham’s son Simon (39) as saying that the coin is “an important part of Wallingford's ancient history. It's survived for nearly 1,000 years and it's in remarkable condition.”

The family were surprised at how rare the coin was. Adam Staples, an expert at Hanson's, stated to the BBC that “John’s coin is the only complete example recorded where both the mint town and name of the moneyer can be read.” The coin even bears the name of the moneyer who minted the coin, one Robertus, who was previously unknown.

John Denham has been a metal detectorist since the 1980s. He and his sons have made many impressive discoveries, including an Anglo-Saxon brooch. The detectorist was glad to have found the medieval coin because many treasures are destroyed, accidentally by farmers. Hanson Auctioneers quotes him as saying that “Many ancient coins get damaged by farming machinery.” The penny was sold at auction for £6000 ($7,800).

These Three Medieval Coin Finds Will Inspire New Finds!

These three medieval coin finds prove once again that detectorists have a vital role in unearthing important artifacts. And all three of these finders also followed the rules by reporting the finds and seeking an expert’s opinion. It is not known yet if any of the auctioned coins were sold to private collectors or museums.

Metal detectorist luck or persistence can clearly result in remarkable finds. Who knows when there could be ancient treasure beneath our feet as we walk across a field or explore the forest?

Top image: A metal detector and shovel on the beach with coins that might be rare medieval coins. You never know!        Source: andrewbalcombe / Adobe Stock

By Ed Whelan

Ed Whelan's picture


My name is Edward Whelan and I graduated with a PhD in history in 2008. Between 2010-2012 I worked in the Limerick City Archives. I have written a book and several peer reviewed journal articles. At present I am a... Read More

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