Rik Jones, our resident metal detectorist ‘treasure hunter’, is head chef at Devonshire Hall, University of Leeds and took up the hobby about a decade ago.
In the first of a series of regular columns, he takes us through the fascinating story of a lost sovereign dating from the reign of George IV, circa 1833.
Late last year I got kind permission from a farmer in West Yorkshire to detect on her land. I had to meet her near Hebden Bridge as she said there is no way I would find her farm with the postcode given. So after a 20 minute drive through the countryside past dry stone walls and over ancient bridges we finally reached her farm.
It looked promising, a nice 17th century building with a large paddock to the front where there must have been lots going on in the past.
I asked if the field was available but she informed me that horses where on it and they would not leave me alone if I went on it. So we headed up an old packhorse lane opposite the farm and halfway up she showed me to a different field.
I should have brought my crampons as it had a bit of a slope to it but as ever I thought lets have a go. It was what we in the trade call ‘a quiet field’.
After taking in the breathtaking views, I started walking up and down in lines to try and find ‘a hotspot’.
I had to keep checking my machine was turned on as there were no sounds at all. Suddenly I was aware it was starting to get very dark in the middle of the day and some menacing black clouds where coming in, then the heavens opened and I mean really opened I made a dash for my rucksack and put on my full waterproofs. Then I carried on.
All of a sudden, I got a good signal, a nice crisp ‘two-way tone’. I cut out a sod of grass and found a button.
Ok, I thought, at least it’s something. This was followed by more buttons, some lead and a horseshoe. By this time I had been in the field about two hours and thought time for a coffee so aimed for my rucksack which was about 100 yards away, swinging the machine as I walked . Then I got a really nice sound and thought it was probably another button. How wrong could I be?
I cut away a plug of grass, looked in the hole and saw the edge of a coin with a glint of gold and thought my eyes where playing tricks on me.
I pulled out the coin and was amazed to see it was a majestic 1833 King George IV full gold sovereign and in as good condition as the day it was minted. Ok, I thought lets do this area and see if there anymore, then I got another signal nearby I dug it out and it was another button.
I tried another hour but only found a battered old penny and some scraps of lead but I was still buzzing from the gold find. I was now getting wet as the weather was crazy and the winds had picked up.
Off I headed back down to the farm and the farmer was going past in her car, ‘found anything then?’ she asked and I said, ‘hold your hand out’ and dropped the gold sovereign into her hand. She was gobsmacked. The following month I sold the coin and myself and the farmer did a 50/50 split on it so we where both happy.
Next month Rik tells the story of the Bronze Age axe.
If you have any land you would like searching or have lost something in your garden please get in touch with Rik at the email address below.