June 28, 2012 – Some thirty years ago Reg Mead and Richard Miles, two amateur metal detectorists, heard about a farmer who had found silver coins working on his land. Since then they have been going out metal detecting on the same territory in the east of Jersey, the small island in the Channel. After 60 silver coins and a gold coin earlier this year, now they made a kind of once in a lifetime find: A mass of Celtic coins weighing about three quarters of a tonne. Based on the weight the hoard is supposed to contain ca. 50,000 coins.
The finding was excavated archaeologically, and Dr Philipp De Jersey, chief archaeologist of Guernsey, leading the operation said the find was exceptional, ‘certainly the largest hoard of Iron Age coins ever found, not just in Jersey but the whole of the Celtic coin-using world … it is difficult to come out with a figure much below 50,000 coins given the volume of the block.’
First estimates the hoard might be worth around £10 million are based on Dr De Jersey’s statement each coin could be worth between £100 and £200. However, since the exact number and quality of the coins has not been ascertained yet, this is speculative.
Olga Finch, curator of archaeology at the Jersey Museum, put the finding in its position on an international scale: ‘The fact that it has been excavated archaeologically is also rare and will greatly enhance the level of information we can glean about the people who buried it. It is an amazing contribution to the study of Celtic coins. We already have a number of very important Iron Age coin hoards found in the Island, but this new addition will make Jersey a magnet for Celtic coin researchers.’
Although the owner of the land where the hoard was found under a hedge expressed his wish to see the coins exposed in the Jersey museum or archive, there is one fundamental problem: yet it has to be established who legally owns this find. While Great Britain introduced its modern Treasure Act in 1997 adapting the regulations to modern world necessities, in Jersey the law is much more similar to the previous British legislation based on mediaeval regulations. Hence it will probably take months to solve this legal issue.
On Jersey often Celtic coins were found in the past. Read more about this topic in Chris Rudd’s article ‘Jersey – the Treasure Island of Celtic coins’.
Highly important for working on Celtic coins is the Celtic Coin Index.
You can find more articles about Celtic coins in our archive section ‘Celts’.
If you are interested in treasure and hoard findings in Britain and elsewhere you may also want to browse ‘Treasures’.