10 fascinating metal detecting finds from around the world

Exploring vast areas of dusty and deserted landscapes with a metal detector in tow doesn’t always lead to any great discovery, but if luck’s on your side you may join these other 10 detectorists in unearthing some amazing pieces of archaeological dynamite. From copper coins to meteorites down on earth this list has it all, and all within the past five-years. We start up in Essex with a curious toddler…

1. 16th Century pendant

Decorated with the five wounds of Christ, four-year-old, James Hyatt, of Billericay, Essex found the gold pendant on a hunt with his dad in a field in Hockley. Engraved with an image of what is believed to be the Virgin Mary supporting a cross, the British Museum valued its gold content to be near 73%. Worth up to £2.5m, the generous family said they would share the sum with the landowner if the pendant was sold.

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2. Copper axe head

Said to be one of only 1,000 known to experts, 52-year-old historian, Steve Hickling discovered the axe head on a treasure hunt in St. Helens. A newbie to metal detecting, Hickling had only taken up the hobby for 12 months before finding the copper flat axe with his Garret Ace 250. The 4,000 year old artefact dates backs to the middle Bronze Age from between 1850 – 1750 BC.

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3. Rio Rancho Meteorite

13-year-old Jason Lyons from Rio Rancho, New Mexico, walked into the University of New Mexico’s Institute of Meteoritics with what he said was a 2lb chunk of “space rock,” to be told it was in fact an L6 ordinary chondrite, in other words, a meteorite. Found with nothing but a homebuilt metal detector his grandfather made, this rare meteorite is estimated to have been on the ground for 10,000 years. Composed of part nickel-iron metal, it’s the second most common type of ‘space matter’.

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4. Civil War Saber

Spurred on by a neighbour’s impressive Civil War collection, little Lucas Hall requested a metal detector for his birthday. Four outings later, the 7-year-old found the 1840/1860 cavalry sword and like us, couldn’t believe his luck. According to locals, Clarke County, Virginia is popular amongst detectorists because of its history in the Civil War, so maybe that might be somewhere for us to think about for our next expedition?

5. 17th Century Coin Hoard

Back in England, experienced detectorist, Howard Murphy, discovered a haul of coins on a stretch of farmland in Bitterley, South Shropshire. Rather than trying to dig it out himself, he alerted his local Finds Liaision Officer who was amazed yet intrigued at the amount of coins retrieved from the ground. Staff at the British Museum said the collection of one gold and 137 silver coins, would have only been worth a minimal £9, 11 shillings and 6d (pence) when buried, but can you imagine now?

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6. Roman skeleton

Slightly more chilling and without any monetary value, what Kenneth Mordle thought would have been another piece of jewellery, (he had earlier found a silver ring) was in fact remains dating backing to the 1st or 3rd century. On a routine check near Chichester, I hope Mordle hasn’t since been put off his hobby, can’t say here at Joan Allen we would be quite so brave. Would you?

7. Iron Age Neck Ornaments

Who wouldn’t be ecstatic at the prospect of being £460,000 richer? Dave Booth’s sentiments exactly when just an hour into his first metal detecting mission in Stirlingshire, Scotland, he discovered four gold, silver and copper necklaces called ‘torcs’. The 35-year-old was the proud owner of a five-day-old metal detector when he came across the 2,000-year-old pieces just six inches underground. Booth said he was “completely stunned“ and by all accounts, so were we.

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8. Nummi coins

Another new detectorist on a quest for treasure, this time unearthing 10,000 silver and bronze Roman coins  one of the largest collections of Roman coins ever discovered in Shropshire. 30-year-old, Nick Davies found the coins nested inside a clay pot weighing over a massive 70 lbs. The coins that were initially identified date from the period 320 – 340 AD late in the reign of Constantine, and amongst them are coins celebrating the anniversary of the founding of Rome and Constantinople.

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9. Anglo-Saxon treasure

Worth something close to £1 million, one man’s amazing find brought tears to the eyes of experts and fellow enthusiasts, supposedly. Brace yourself for Terry Herbert, the amateur detectorist who discovered the largest Anglo-Saxon gold hoard ever in the Shropshire countryside. The some 1,500 pieces of silver and gold, however, were stressing out their 55-year-old temporary owner who was glad when archaeologists took the find so he could finally relax. Bless him, a million must be such a burden.

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10. The Harrogate Hoard

Another father-son duo, the Wheelan family, David, 60 and Andrew, 35, were growing tired of metal detecting when a signal alerted them to a single coin. As true enthusiasts they continued digging and unveiled a haul of silver and gold Viking treasure  the most significant find of its kind in England for more than 150 years. Needless to say, their substantial find was estimated at £750,000 of which the Wheelans decided to only keep half, if that, and give the remaining cash to the farmer whose field it was found. Nothing like a kind gesture to finish off our fascinating finds.

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Have you had some fantastic finds to tell us about? Please share your photos with us on the Joan Allen Facebook page.

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