(Coin discovered by and photographed by John Winter – which appears on his blog)
John Winter didn’t know what he had got until he posted a picture on an online detectorist forum.
Local treasure hunters, and later a finds liaison officer confirmed that John had discovered a Celtic stater. A gold coin that had lain in the dirt for 2000 years.
John was excited. “Everybody remembers their first find,” he said.
Finds like John’s are not uncommon for metal detector enthusiasts, who according to the December annual treasure report find 96 per cent of the treasure buried in England.
Overall 1,011 pieces of treasure were found last year in Britain – 60 of those pieces were aged before Roman times. The bulk of England’s treasure was found in Norfolk, because of its loose non-corrosive soil.
Technically, John’s find did not qualify as treasure as it was only one coin, so John consulted with the farmer on whose land it was found. Together, they agreed to sell the stater to a dealer.
The dealer confirmed that the coin, came from the time of the Celtic King Tasciovanus, who in some versions of recorded history tried to defend Britain against Julius Cesear.
John never thought of keeping the coin for himself: “It wasn’t mine, it was ours, it belonged to our heritage, I just happened to be the one who found it.”
All finds that are deemed treasure must be reported to the coroner – an old English tradition stemming from when coroners held monetary powers and carried out judicial investigations on behalf of the Crown.
Coroners then pass the treasure on to a local museum, or if it is rare enough, the British museum.
The most commonly found treasure are ‘object cases’ – non coin treasure- from the post-medieval period. Coins are a lot less common. The largest amount found, last year was a hoard of Roman coins, two of which were donated to a museum.
There are some detectorists who do not report their treasure to the govermenment riskng a £3,000 fine and possibly three months in prison.
John says, “In every society there are rogues”.