By Paul Richardson
A few years back, America got swept up in a treasure hunting frenzy when the first metal detectors hit the market. Numerous southern farms had wild tales of buried treasure on the property, hidden by the locals during the Civil War to keep family riches out of the hands of the Yankees. (Yam Dankees, they were often called.)
Armed with a hand held, battery operated detector made searching quick, easy, and for some, profitable. Not all, but a few who were dedicated and diligent in their effort often turned up an old coin here and there.
One such lucky and determined individual was England’s Larry Egerton. For years, he searched an area he was convinced held untold riches. It is common knowledge that Roman Legions once occupied the Isle of Britain, and some of the old Roman sites have been identified. That is where Larry concentrated his search, around the perimeter of an old compound and barracks already picked thru by numerous archeologists.
Early farmers were known to bury their money and valuables near the barn instead of around the house, since they often spent more time at the barn working than inside the house. And if a man had any wealth at all, he dare not leave it lying around for the wife (or anyone else to find) to find.
So sure enough, Larry hit pay dirt, old metal pieces, spent gun cartridges, broken plows, rusty nails, door hinges, an occasional belt buckle, and finally, a pot of gold and copper coins which dated to 260 AD to 348 AD., No doubt they were Roman coins since all featured an image of Constantine the Great,
First, only an old piece of metal was unearthed. But then one single coin fell from the shovel of dirt. A little more digging and shovels full of coins spilled out, 22,000 in all.
He was so excited over his find, he even slept in his car for three nights, afraid to leave the site unguarded.
As soon as the find was registered with the British government and Mr. Eagerton was declared the rightful owner, archeologists took over the digging. It did not take long for his treasure to be declared authentic.
The entire collection is currently on display at the Royal Albert Museum, which plans to eventually buy the complete set except for one specimen Eagerton plans to keep as a memento. Eagerton had the land owner’s permission to search the property, so a share of the proceeds will go him also.
Although they were valuable in their day, all the copper coins together would have equaled only about four dollars at today’s rate. But experts agree that this find will bring tens of thousands of dollars.
So maybe giving up the hobby was not such a good idea. Dust off the old metal detector and buy some fresh batteries.
A farmer in Georgia found a Confederate belt buckle in a freshly plowed field and it brought $1200.oo. And he didn’t even own a metal detector. The tractor’s plow revealed the treasure.