Birdwatcher stumbles upon £800,000 hoard of 2,000-year-old Celtic gold coins dating from time Boudicca was at war with the Romans
- Birdwatcher recovered 1,300 gold coins while out spotting a buzzard in a field
- Experts say each coin is worth up to £650 and could have belonged to Boudicca
- The lucky finder said ‘a cascade of coins fell out,’ of an urn he had unearthed
A birdwatcher has stumbled across a hoard of 2,000-year-old Celtic gold coins worth £800,000 that date back to the time Boudicca was at war with the Romans.
The keen metal detectorist, who has not been named, spotted a glint of gold while looking at a buzzard in a recently ploughed field in eastern England.
Having rubbed off the mud to reveal a 2,000-year-old gold stater coin, he dashed home to pick up his metal detector and returned to carry on searching.
After several hours, and to his utter disbelief, he unearthed about 1,300 coins, all dating to circa 40-50AD.
Experts believe each coin could be worth up to £650, putting the value of the hoard at £845,000.
The lucky finder says he saw a ‘cascade’ of golden coins fall from an urn he unearthed from a recently-ploughed field in eastern England
It comfortably surpasses the previous record Celtic hoard of 850 coins found at Wickham Market, Suffolk, by another detectorist in 2008.
The lucky finder is remaining anonymous but he is aged in his 50s and says the potential windfall would be ‘life-changing’ for him.
The groundsman told Treasure Hunting magazine: ‘Although I am a keen detectorist, that evening I was doing a bit of bird watching.
‘After watching a dogfight between a buzzard and a pair of magpies, I stared down and spotted something lying in a bit of the deep ploughed soil which ran around the edge of the field.
The birdwatcher, who is in his 50s, initially thought the first coin was an old washer, but quickly discovered it was a gold coin. Experts say each one is worth around £650, and he managed to uncover around 1,300
‘I bent down and picked up what I thought was an old washer, rubbed it and felt its thickness.
‘I saw the glint of gold and realised it was a beautiful Celtic gold stater, which made me sit down in sheer shock.
‘I then spotted the second coin 2ft away and rushed home to get my (detector).’
He returned and hovered the device over the same area and got a ‘really strong’ signal.
After digging down around 18ins, he recovered what looked to be a copper bangle, but was in fact the rim of what would have been a jug or urn that housed the coins.
He said: ‘Gently lifting it up a cascade of coins fell out, a vision which will remain with me for the rest of my life.
‘I had to sit down to get my breath back. I had only come out for a walk and found a Celtic hoard.’
At that moment a friendly dog walker using a public footpath next to the field shouted at to him in jest, ‘have you found gold yet?’
The finder said: ‘I thought, “if only you knew”.
Boudicca, or Boadicea, led a revolt against the Romans from 60-61AD. The haul of coins discovered in eastern England could have been a deposit from her war chest, it is thought
‘I came off the field with a spade, detector and two heavy swinging shopping bags praying the thin plastic handles would hold the weight.’
He carried the golden haul home in two supermarket carrier bags and notified his local coroner’s office – which deals with any treasure finds in Britain.
THE BOUDICCAN REVOLT
The Boudiccan Revolt raged from 60-61AD and saw British tribes, under Boudicca of the Iceni, unsuccessfully try to defeat the Roman army.
Boudicca was Queen of the Iceni people, a British tribe who lived in what is today Norfolk and parts of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.
Her name is an early for of the more commonly known name ‘Victoria’.
Her husband, Prasutagus, was ruler of the Iceni people, and the Romans allowed Prasutagus to continue as king, ruling on their behalf.
But, when Prasutagus died, the Romans decided to rule the Iceni directly and they confiscated the property of the leading Iceni families.
The Romans are also said to have stripped and whipped Boudicca, and raped her daughters.
The revolt resulted in Camulodunum, now Colchester, London, and Verulamium, now St Albans, being burnt to the ground while thousands of people on both sides lost their lives.
Colchester was the first target of the Boudiccan army and many of the townspeople were rounded up and sacrificed in nearby groves.
Source: The British Museum
During the middle of the first century the Celtic warrior Boudicca was at war with the occupying Roman forces.
It is possible that the coins may have been a ‘deposit’ from her war chest for her eastern campaigns.
The hoard is currently going through the treasure process in accordance with the Treasure Act 1996.
A coroner will decide whether the finder must offer the items for sale to a museum for a set price or if he can keep it.
Any proceeds that he makes will have to be shared with the owner of he field.
Jules Evans-Hart, editor of Treasure Hunting magazine, said: ‘It is an amazing discovery.
‘So far between 950 and 1,300 coins seem to be the figures quoted as many were still in supermarket carrier bags.
‘The coins form a substantial if not enormous contribution to our academic numismatic knowledge and will undoubtedly be subject to much assessment over the coming years.
‘It is possible that they may form a deposit as a ‘war chest’ for Boudicca’s eastern campaigns.
‘The previous record was 850 and that was the Wickham Market Hoard found in 2008. At this stage it seems highly likely that the discovery might well knock that find off top spot. ‘
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