6 Awesome Treasure Hunt Finds by Amateurs

Arr, there be gold, Jim lad! Source

Treasure! The vaults of museums around the world are filled with precious antiquities, but who knows how many historical relics are still out there waiting to be discovered? If this list proves anything, it's that anyone can strike it lucky... even you. So grab your shovel, your metal detector and get digging.


Buried in the field out back? Source

The advancement of modern technology has rendered the x-marked-map obsolete; the bulk of significant treasure finds are made by amateurs armed with nothing more than metal detectors, patience and a thermos flask. We've broken down the six largest UK finds of the past fifty years. Read closely and you may learn how to get your hands on your own share of the loot.

6. Treasure: Ringlemere Cup
Location: Sandwich, Kent
Year: 2001

Not exactly in mint condition. Source

One morning in a muddy field near Ringlemere, East Kent, metal detector hobbyist Cliff Bradshaw heard a tell tale beep. After some digging Mr Bradshaw unearthed an exquisite and rare gold chalice, now known as the Ringlemere Cup. It was only the second example of its type to come from Britain.

The first gold cup was discovered in 1837. Source

These gold vessels date from the very early Bronze Age (2300 BC - 4000 years ago). They are similar to examples found around the Mediterranean, suggesting connections between the Cornish and Greek peoples. The cup was purchased from Mr Bradshaw by the British Museum for £270,000. Quite the reward for one muddy mornings work.

Value: £270,000


5. Treasure: Fishpool Hoard
Location: Ravenshead, Nottinghamshire
Year: 1966

One of the beautiful gold and enamel brooches found in the Fishpool Hoard. Source

In 1966, workmen digging on a building site accidently uncovered the largest hoard of medieval coins ever found in Britain. This tremendous trove from the 15th century contained 1,237 gold coins, four rings, four pieces of jewellery, and two lengths of gold chain.

The Fishpool Horde in all its glory. Source

It is thought that the hoard was buried by someone fleeing from one of the early battles of the War of the Roses. The jewellery of the hoard is gold set with gems and enamel. These 15th century pieces are truly stunning. (High resolution photographs available here, here and here.

The heart-shaped brooch is engraved with the phrase "je suys vostre sans de partier" (I am yours wholly). This romantic hoard was purchased by the British Museum for around £300,000.

Value: £300,000


4. Treasure: Roman Coin Hoard
Location: Frome, Somerset
Year: 2010

Dirty money. Source

Dave Crisp was hoping, at best, to find a roman silver coin when he started searching in a farmer's field near Frome. After a few hours fruitless sweeping he received a 'funny signal'. That signal turned out to be one of the largest coin hordes ever found.

Crisp was overjoyed by his find. Source

During an emergency 3-day excavation over 52,000 Roman coins were found, amounting to an astounding half a million pounds in value. Unfortunately for Dave his entire find was confiscated by the Crown.

Value: £500,000


3. Treasure: Silverdale Hoard
Location: Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Year: 2007

The appropriately named Silverdale Horde.Source

David Whelan and his son Andrew were metal detecting in a North Yorkshire field when, after receiving a strong signal, they discovered, hidden amongst scraps of iron, a finely engraved silver bowl. Upon realising its value a full-scale dig commenced which ultimately produced 617 silver coins and 65 other fine silver items.

This gold-lined silver bowl is over 1000 years old Source

Most of the items were made in France or Germany around 900 AD. They include ornaments, ingots and jewellery. The vessel in which they were hidden in is lined with gold and decorated with "vines, leaves and six hunting scenes showing lions, stags, and a horse".

The horde was sold to the Yorkshire Museum, the Whelans and the landowners were left to split a cool 1 million pounds. (The local BBC news report can be found here.)

Value: £1,000,000


2. Treasure: Hoxne Hoard
Location: Hoxne, Suffolk
Year: 1992

The plastic display case was not found with the horde. Source

All the treasure troves so far have been found by metal detectors in search of treasure; this particular hoard was found by men in search of a lost hammer. Peter Whatling summoned his friend Eric Lawes to help him search for an errant tool. While searching in Peter's field they uncovered silver spoons, gold jewellery and numerous coins.

Fashionable even by todays standards. Source

After a full excavation, over 15,000 roman coins and 200 other items were found, including very rare examples roman jewellery. Lawes received a finder's fee of £1.75m which was shared equally between himself and his farmer friend.

This is the largest payment ever granted by the crown to a treasure hunter.

Value: £1,750,000


1. Treasure: King's Ransom
Location: Lichfield, Staffordshire
Year: 2009

Select pieces from the 3,500 piece hoard. Source

The ancient city of Lichfield has many treasures: its cathedral, the home of Samuel Johnson... but few would expect it to hold the greatest treasure ever found on our small island. While exploring a local farmer's field Terry Herbert discovered a veritable king's ransom in Anglo-Saxon gold.

Three of the most valuable pieces of treasure ever found in the UK. Source

The hoard consists of approximately 3,500 pieces, comprising up to 5kg of gold and 1.3kg of silver. The gold items are some of the finest examples of Anglo-Saxon art ever seen: finely wrought golden animals, betrothal rings and jasper sword hilts, a truly spectacular find. The horde was valued at approximately £3.26 million.

It was confiscated by the Crown and is currently held by the British Museum.

Value: £3,260,000


And if we haven't got you reaching for your metal detectors yet, we would just like to add that the total value of these treasures was a cool £7,000,000. Happy treasure hunting!