AN amateur treasure hunter made the discovery of his life when he unearthed 82 silver coins thought to have been buried during the English Civil War.
The hoard found by lorry driver Mark Greensmith has now been officially declared as treasure and will eventually be placed on display in a museum.
Mr Greensmith was using his metal detector in August last year when he found the trove — consisting of coins from the reigns of Mary I, Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I — on a farm just outside Uttoxeter.
A report by Dr Barrie Cook, a British Museum coin expert, said the treasure may have been buried to keep it safe during the 1640s by someone who was later killed in the Civil War.
Mr Greensmith told the Mail: “To find something like this is just brilliant. I have been metal detecting for about four years and I have found the occasional silver coin before, but nothing like this.
“I started to find this hoard when I discovered a silver coin from the time of Elizabeth I.
“I got a strong signal on the metal detector when I went back to the same spot later. I found about 13 more coins in that session. Over several weekends, I dug the rest up. One Sunday, I found 32 silver coins in three hours.”
An inquest was held this week at Burton Town Hall. Coroner Andrew Haigh ruled that the coins were treasure, meaning they will now be valued and museums given the chance to buy the artefacts. The proceeds will be split between Mr Greensmith and the landowner.
Dr Cook’s report, read out during the inquest hearing, said the coins were more than 90 per cent silver and had a total face value of £3 six shillings, equivalent to hundreds of pounds in modern money.
The hoard consisted mainly of sixpences, shillings and half-crowns. There were also three groats, the old fourpenny pieces, and two Irish shillings.
Dr Cook said it was probable the coins were buried in or around 1644 to keep them safe.
He wrote: “During this massively disruptive and traumatic period, it is likely that many more hoards than usual were hidden for security and it is definitely the case that many remained unclaimed thanks to the tumults of the time.”
The English Civil War was fought in phases between 1642 and 1651 as the parliamentarians, led by Oliver Cromwell, battled to overthrow the royalists, commanded by Charles I.