I’m a big fan of finding different ways of making money, and one that has caught my eye recently is metal detecting. Let’s take a look at some of the most valuable finds in the UK and see if you get to keep what you detect.
Most valuable metal detecting finds
- The Grouville Hoard – £10m
- Chew Valley Hoard – £5m
- The Staffordshire Hoard – £4.7m
- The Hoxne Hoard -£3.5m
- Henry III Gold Penny – £681,000
- The Frome Hoard – £458,000
- The Ringlemere Cup – £457,000
Metal detecting is a hobby that has grown in popularity over the years, attracting people from all walks of life. The UK, with its rich and varied history, is a particularly fertile ground for metal detecting enthusiasts. In this post, we’ll explore some of the most valuable metal detecting finds in the UK, from ancient Roman coins to Viking treasure hoards. These discoveries offer a fascinating glimpse into the country’s past and showcase the diversity of treasures that can still be uncovered today. Plus… it gives us all hope for finding a small fortune.
So, let’s grab our metal detectors and dig in!
The Grouville Hoard – current valuation £10 million
The Grouville Hoard is a collection of Celtic coins discovered in the parish of Grouville on the island of Jersey. The hoard was discovered in 2012 by metal detectorists Reg Mead and Richard Miles, who had been searching for it for over 30 years.
It consists of an estimated 70,000 to 80,000 coins, which were buried in a large clay pot during the late Iron Age, around 30 to 50 BC. The coins are believed to have been minted by the Coriosolitae, a Celtic tribe who lived in the region that is now Brittany in France.
The Grouville Hoard is one of the largest hoards of Celtic coins ever discovered and provides valuable insight into the history of the region during the late Iron Age. The coins are believed to have been buried for safekeeping during a time of political instability and are an indication of the wealth and economic power of the tribe that owned them.
The hoard has been valued at between £7 and £14 million and has been the subject of an extensive research and conservation project led by Jersey Heritage. The coins have been carefully cleaned and catalogued, and some of them have been put on display at the Jersey Museum.
The discovery of the Grouville Hoard has also raised questions about the legality of metal detecting on the island of Jersey. Unlike in the United Kingdom, metal detecting is not currently regulated in Jersey, which has led to concerns about the potential loss of valuable archaeological artifacts. The discovery of the hoard has prompted calls for the island’s authorities to introduce stricter controls on metal detecting in order to protect its rich heritage.
Chew Valley Hoard – current valuation £5 million
The Chew Valley Hoard is a collection of silver coins discovered in 2015 by two metal detectorists, Lisa Grace and Adam Staples, in the Chew Valley area of Somerset. The hoard consists of over 2,500 coins, mostly from the late Anglo-Saxon and early Norman period, and is one of the largest hoards of its kind ever discovered in the United Kingdom.
The coins in the Chew Valley Hoard were buried in a lead container in the late 11th century, around the time of the Norman Conquest of England. The hoard includes coins minted by King Harold II, who famously died at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, as well as coins from the reigns of his predecessors, Edward the Confessor and Harold’s brother-in-law, Edward the Confessor’s successor, William the Conqueror.
The Chew Valley Hoard is significant because it provides a unique insight into the period immediately following the Norman Conquest, a time of great political and social upheaval in England. The hoard is also notable for its excellent state of preservation, which has allowed experts to study the coins in great detail and learn more about their origins and history.
Following its discovery, the Chew Valley Hoard was declared a treasure trove, meaning it legally belonged to the Crown. The hoard was subsequently acquired by the British Museum, where it underwent conservation and research. Some coins have since been displayed at the museum, while others have been loaned to other institutions for exhibition.
The Staffordshire Hoard – current valuation £4.7 million
The Staffordshire Hoard was discovered by a metal detectorist named Terry Herbert in a field near the village of Hammerwich in Staffordshire, England, in July 2009. The hoard contained over 3,500 items, including gold and silver ornaments, sword fittings, and other weapons, from the Anglo-Saxon era, dating back to the 7th or 8th century AD.
The items in the hoard are intricately decorated with filigree, enamel, and precious stones, showcasing the remarkable skill and craftsmanship of Anglo-Saxon metalworkers. The objects were likely buried for safekeeping, possibly during a time of conflict, but the exact circumstances of their burial remain a mystery.
After its discovery, the hoard was acquired by the Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent Museums, with funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund. The hoard has since been extensively researched, conserved, and exhibited to the public, both in the UK and abroad.
The Staffordshire Hoard is significant not only for its exceptional beauty and artistry but also for its insight into the history and culture of the Anglo-Saxon period.
Also worth reading
The Hoxne Hoard – current valuation £3.5 million
The Hoxne Hoard is another significant metal detecting find in the UK, discovered by a metal detectorist named Eric Lawes in a field near the village of Hoxne in Suffolk, England, in 1992. The hoard contained over 15,000 Roman coins, as well as gold and silver jewellery, and other objects, dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries AD.
The coins in the hoard represent a wide variety of emperors and were likely buried for safekeeping, possibly during a time of turmoil in the Roman Empire. The other objects in the hoard include a gold armlet, silver spoons, and a silver pepper pot, among others.
It is the largest hoard of Roman silver and gold discovered in Britain and the fourth-largest Roman hoard ever found in the world. It offers valuable insights into the economy, politics, and social structure of the Roman Empire during the late 4th and early 5th centuries AD.
The Hoxne Hoard was acquired by the British Museum for £1.75 million ($2.3 million) in 1993, and it has been extensively studied and exhibited to the public since then.
Henry III Gold Penny – current valuation £681,000
This single coin was found by a metal detectorist named Mike Smale in a field near the village of Buckland Monachorum in Devon, England, in 2017. The penny is a rare and valuable example of medieval coinage, dating back to the reign of King Henry III in the 13th century.
The gold penny is one of only four known examples of its kind and is thought to have been struck in London in 1257. The coin features a portrait of King Henry III on one side, with the inscription “HENRICVS REX III” (Henry III, King), and a depiction of a ship on the other side, with the inscription “CIVITAS LONDON” (City of London).
The penny was likely part of a larger hoard, which may have been buried for safekeeping during a time of political or military unrest.
The Henry III gold penny was acquired by the British Museum for an undisclosed sum in 2018, and it has since been studied, conserved, and exhibited to the public. The penny remains a rare and valuable example of medieval coinage, and it offers a glimpse into the wealth, power, and prestige of medieval kings and their kingdoms.
The Frome Hoard – current valuation £458,000
The Frome Hoard was discovered by a metal detectorist named Dave Crisp in a field near the town of Frome in Somerset, England, in 2010. The hoard contained over 52,000 Roman coins, as well as other objects, dating back to the 3rd century AD.
The Frome Hoard is one of the largest Roman coin hoards ever discovered in the UK. The coins in the hoard represent a wide range of emperors, from Gallienus to Aurelian, and they provide evidence of the shifting power dynamics and economic challenges of the period.
In addition to the coins, the Frome Hoard also included other objects, such as a silver jug and a silver dish, which were likely buried with the coins as part of a larger hoard. The hoard was probably buried for safekeeping, possibly during a time of unrest or uncertainty in the Roman Empire.
The Frome Hoard was acquired by the British Museum for an undisclosed sum in 2010, and it has since been studied, conserved, and exhibited to the public.
The Ringlemere Cup – current valuation £457,000
The Ringlemere Cup was unearthed in a field near the village of Ringlemere in Kent, England, in 2001 by Cliff Bradshaw. The cup is a unique piece of Late Bronze Age metalwork, dating back to around 1700-1500 BC.
The Ringlemere Cup is made of a thin sheet of beaten gold with a flared rim and a small handle. The cup is only 8.5 cm tall and 14.8 cm in diameter, but it is a masterpiece of Bronze Age craftsmanship. The cup is decorated with intricate patterns of dots, lines, and chevrons arranged in concentric circles.
It was likely used for ceremonial or ritual purposes and may have been buried as an offering to the gods. The cup is one of the few surviving examples of Bronze Age metalwork in the UK, and it provides valuable insights into the art, technology, and beliefs of the people who lived during that time.
The piece was acquired by the British Museum for £270,000 ($360,000) in 2003, with funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund.
Beginning your metal detecting journey
If you fancy becoming a detectorist yourself, here are a few pointers.
Do you need training before you start?
No, you don’t need any formal training. However, you need to know how your equipment works and have a basic overview of the best techniques. Don’t go swishing that detector in large circles! There are plenty of helpful videos on YouTube, or you could see if there are any clubs close to you.
What equipment do you need?
- Metal detector: This is the most important piece of equipment you will need. There are many different types and models of metal detectors available, ranging from simple and affordable models for beginners (from under £100) to more advanced and expensive models for experienced treasure hunters (well over £1,000).
- Headphones: You will need a good pair of headphones to connect to your metal detector. This will allow you to hear the signals more clearly and block out any background noise.
- Digging tool: You will need a digging tool to unearth the targets you find. A small shovel, trowel, or handheld digging tool is usually sufficient.
- Pouch or bag: You will need a pouch or bag to hold your finds. This will keep them organized and prevent them from getting lost or damaged.
- Optional accessories: You may also want to consider investing in additional accessories such as a pinpointer, a sand scoop, or a carrying case to protect your equipment while you travel.
Can you go metal detecting anywhere?
No. If you want to metal detect in an area you don’t own, you must get the land owner’s permission first. Even publicly-accessed land such as parks, beaches and commons may have restrictions and you will need to speak to your council before setting to work.
I know metal detecting is allowed on East Devon beaches without permission, but they say you must have public liability insurance.
And treat the land with respect. Don’t leave large holes littered all over the land. Otherwise, you’ll never be allowed back.
Can you keep everything you find?
According to the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales (2017), anything found belongs to the landowner.
It’s suggested that you ‘get permission and agreement in writing first regarding the ownership of any finds subsequently discovered’.
Good luck if you decide to give it a try!
Or why not take a look at some other ideas to make money on the side?
Do you need a license for a metal detector?
No, there’s no need for a license when metal detecting in the UK.
Can you make money from metal detecting?
Most people won’t make much from metal detecting. However, as you can see above, there is the potential to make a small fortune.