A hoard of Anglo Saxon coins worth over £1 million has been discovered by metal detectorists on a Christmas dig.
The massive hoard of more than 5,000 silver coins was found on Sunday, December 21, at an end-of-year rally on farmland near Lenborough.
Over 100 people from all over the country were at the dig organised by the Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club, when one member discovered the hoard, buried 2ft down in a lead bucket or container.
Archaeologist Ros Tyrrell, the Finds Liaison Officer for Bucks, who is based at the Bucks County Museum in Aylesbury, was at the rally to record any finds made on the day, when the major hoard of more than 5,251½ Anglo Saxon silver coins was uncovered.
Miss Tyrrell was immediately called over to help excavate the coins.
Weekend Wanderers founder Pete Welch said: “From the outset it was done properly and I’m pleased about that.
“Ros, bless her, spent four or five hours on her belly in cold weather down a hole.”
The coins, which Mr Welch said were in “superb condition”, show the faces of some of the kings of England, from 1,000 years ago.
They include coins from the reigns of Ethelred the Unready (978-1016 AD) and Canute, or Cnut (1016-1035 AD).
A Bucks County Museum spokesman said: “This is one of the largest hoards of Anglo Saxon coins ever found in Britain, and when the coins have been properly identified and dated, we may be able to guess at why such a great treasure was buried.”
Mr Welch said: “At the moment it looks like a find of national importance.”
He believes the hoard is equal in importance to the Staffordshire Hoard of gold and garnets, found by a metal detectorist in 2009.
Mr Welch said: “Everyone dreams of a pot of gold. The reality is you spend most of your time digging up bits of junk
“This is the first of its kind since I’ve been running the club, which is 23 years.”
Mr Welch said each coin could be worth at least £250.
He said: “They’re like mirrors, no scratching, and buried really carefully in a lead container, deep down.
“It looks like only two people have handled these coins,” he said. “The person who made them and the person who buried them.
And he added: “Ethelred opened a mint in Buckingham in conjunction with Cnut. I think there’s a proability there’s a link between the mint at Buckingham and the coins.”
The Staffordshire Hoard is now on display in the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, and Mr Welch said he hopes the ‘Buckinghamshire Hoard’ will eventually go on display in a local museum.
He said: “I ‘m just hoping that these coins will end up in a museum for the public to see. I wouldn’t want to see them go to a private collector.”
A Bucks County Museum spokesman said that, as precious metal over 300 years old, the coins fall within the remit of the Treasure Act, and so have been taken to the British Museum for conservation and identification.
Once that has been done, a coroner will have to decide if they are legally ‘treasure’ .
If they are, the museum may get the opportunity to try and raise the money to buy them.