20th January 2017

Final coins are removed from the Celtic hoard

In 2012, Richard Miles and Reg Mead found what turned out to be the largest Celtic coin hoard ever uncovered. More than 2000 years old, the collection was reckoned to be worth £10m – or, it would be if it could be safely extracted from the field in which it was buried. After turning up the first few coins, the detectorists stopped digging, and called in archaeological experts who could examine the hoard in situ.

The 70,000 coins, which would have been legal currency in the time of Julius Caesar, were removed while still embedded in the surrounding clay, and went on display for three days at a temporary exhibition, staged by Jersey Heritage in the Jersey Museum, in September 2012. Once that was over, the painstaking job of picking apart the quarter-ton block of clay to free the coins could begin. The job took five years, finally drawing to a close on 20 January 2017. By then, it was obvious that the collection, containing coins from northern France and several European tribes sited further afield, was the largest ever discovered anywhere in the world.

A lengthy search

Although many finds made with metal detectors aren’t much more than luck, locating the Celtic hoard was the result of 30 years’ hard work for the Jersey detectorists, who had been told by a local that her father had once turned up old coins in a field. Unfortunately, she couldn’t pinpoint the exact location, which is why it took so long for the precise site to be identified. According to the BBC, “the field’s owner would only allow them to look for a short time each year after the crop was harvested. It means that the two spent up to 15 hours at a time scouring the field – before they had to stop and wait again until the same time next year.”

Although the most significant, and the largest, this wasn’t the first hoard of coins to be discovered in Jersey. In 1936, 11,000 coins had been discovered at La Marquanderie.


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Other events that occured in January