Finding Treasure… Well… Sort Of!


Metal detecting has certainly taken me to some wonderful places, ranging from the flat fields of Cambridgeshire to the hot arid deserts of mid Jordan. What I did not expect on this journey was to find myself metal detecting in the attic of a huge house in Cockfosters. So, how did this happen…Well, a few days ago I had a phone call from a lady called Diana, whose husband John had hidden some valuables away when they went away on vacation. Months later she had asked him where these valuables were and so John went up into the attic to get them. The trouble was that he had put them in such a safe place that he couldn’t actually locate them at all.

After many hours of searching the couple realised they needed some help. Diana had wanted to know where she could hire a metal detector from and tracked me down via a YouTube video and then a Google based telephone directory. The valuables they were looking for consisted of many thousands of pounds of jewellery,so John wasn’t too popular with this wife at that point in time.

When I arrived at the house with my friend Dave Stuckey we interviewed the couple to get a picture of what had happened. John had been instructed specifically by his wife not to hide the valuables near the attic trap door entrance as “that’s the first place a burglar would check.” John said that he had, as far as he could recollect, heeded his wife’s instructions. The ‘treasure’ had been placed in a metal box, so we thought that would at least make it easier to find. After talking with the couple for ten minutes I offered to go up and see if I could find the missing treasure for them. It sounded like an interesting and worthy pursuit. So, Dave and I went up into the attic – not too happy about two huge bulbous wasp nests up there (although John assured us they had been treated).

Interestingly, as I pulled myself up into the attic I had a positive reading right by the entrance, but as John said this was not where he had hidden the valuables, we decided to scan the entire attic floor first to get an idea of what other potential targets there were. It was evident John had already conducted a serious search as rolls of rock wool lay everywhere and floorboards were stacked neatly against the roof timbers.

Dave and I began checking signals and rolling back the strips of insulation. I must say the CTX3030 performed perfectly amongst the myriad of wires and pipes. It suffered from no interference and gave clear separate signals for each item. On finding nothing, once again we checked with John for anything specific he might remember, a small detail maybe that he had overlooked, but he was uncertain. So Dave and I carried on, unscrewing panels, checking signals. Gloved hands were rammed into dark spider web infested cavities but there was no rustle from a carrier bag full of gems.

Eventually, we sat down and considered whether there was an area we had missed, or perhaps a moment where we had forgotten to chase the signal. There was only one area we could think of and John was now sitting on top of it. However I didn’t even bother to check there, as it was the exact spot in which John’s wife had told him not to place the valuables. So we carried on looking…John, however, had begun to search near the trap door and a few moments later Dave and I heard “OK Guys search over!!” What? I thought, how can that be? John reached deep into a cavity and pulled out a dusty red carrier bag and inside was the box with all the jewellery.

We had to laugh as, from the location of the bag, this must have been the very first signal that I had received when we first arrived. Dave and I had believed that John had heeded the precise instructions from Diana, but (like many men…) hadn’t listened and had instead done his own thing. We all clambered down from the attic and Diana was overjoyed. The aim of the venture had been to recover the lost valuables and to be fair this had been done, just not quite in the way that Dave and I had expected.

Having plenty of time to spare we all sat and had a coffee watching the wildlife in the large garden. Whilst there we saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Nuthatch and no end of other birds. It’s funny where metal detecting leads you – in this case it was a lovely house in a beautiful setting and Dave and I got to meet two lovely and really interesting people. So, in a way, we found a little bit of treasure ourselves as well.

About Julian Evan-Hart
Julian is from Hertfordshire, England and has always been interested in fossils and antiquities. Julian has written a number of books on metal detecting, and is an avid user of Minelab products.

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