Hoard Of 5,000 Anglo Saxon Coins Unearthed: Treasure Includes A ‘Unique’ Penny And May Be Worth More Than £1Million

A hoard of more than Anglo Saxon 5,000 coins have been unearthed, including what may be a unique penny. The discovery, near Lenborough, Buckinghamshire is said to be the biggest hoard of coins in modern times. It includes a uniquely-stamped coin which may be the results of a mix-up at the mint, more than 1,000 years ago.

No valuation has officially been placed on the coins, which have formerly been declared as treasure trove, but some experts believe they could be worth more than £1 million. The 5,248 coins were found by metal detector enthusiast Paul Coleman on December 21 last year.

He almost decided not to dig the site when his metal detector beeped, believing he had come across a hidden manhole cover.

Mr Coleman, who is 60 and retired, believes it was fate that caused him to wander over to where the hoard was buried. He chose a different route because choosing his Deus detector was receiving interference from one belonging to another member of the Weekend Wanderers metal detecting club.

He first found 985 coins dating from the reign of Ethelred the Unready in the 990s and a further 4,263 that were minted during the reign of his successor, Canute.

The coins were taken to the museum in Aylesbury before then being sent to the British Museum for further analysis. Brett Thorn, keeper of archaeology at the Buckinghamshire County Museum, told the treasure inquest: ‘Normally hoards are fairly small – 10 to 20 coins, something of that order.

‘The largest came in the 1840s, containing 7,000 plus silver objects, and one was recorded in the late 90s. This find is the only modern one which is comparable to those.’

He believes the coins were buried on the way to a mint in Buckingham five miles (8km) away in order to be melted down and re-cast. ew coins were minted every few years, with the holders of old coins having to pay a tax if they tried using them. Alternatively, Mr Thorn said the money could have been the savings of a single family over the course of 20 years.

Despite the age gap between some of the coins, he told the inquest: ‘There’s no doubt they were deposited at the same time.’

He said that one of the coins – an Agnus Dei coin containing a lamb and flag – is possibly unique.

‘It’s a mis-struck coin. The lamb should have on the reverse a dove of peace. This doesn’t; it has a short cross.

‘Someone has made a mistake but it is still good silver. They still sent it out.

‘It makes the coin a rare mistake among a group of unique coins.’

Such coins were issued towards the the end of Ethelred’s reign and were a plea to God to protect them from the Vikings.

Just 30 Agnus Dei coins had ever been discovered and 25 of those were in Scandinavia. There have also been just 30 Saxon coins discovered in the area over the course of 150 years because most of them were taken back with the Vikings. Mr Thorn said analysis of the coins showed they had been minted in 40 different locations around the country.

Some of the coins were inscribed with the name Coleman, prompting their finder to say: ‘I joked that the hoard had my name on it – I didn’t realise it literally did.

Mr Coleman, who lives in Southampton, Hampshire said: ‘The whole thing has been surreal the whole time.’

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