Metal detectorist punished after keeping memento from huge Iron Age horde

Shane Wood, 62, outside Chelmsford Magistrates Court after being sentenced to a community order afte

Shane Wood, 62, outside Chelmsford Magistrates Court after being sentenced to a community order after he admitted failing to notify the coroner of a find of 933 Iron Age Gold Staters - Credit: PA

A metal detectorist who unearthed one of the largest ever hordes of Iron Age coins in Britain and decided to keep 23 of them as a “memento” will have his equipment destroyed. 

Shane Wood, 62, of Hanningfield Road, Great Baddow, found the treasure while on a walk in Chelmsford in September 2020. 

Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court was told the horde of 933 Iron Age gold Staters was likely to be one of the largest ever of such finds in Britain.  

Wood had come across the items by chance while bird watching and collected up the coins in a bin liner.  

The court heard that Wood handed most of them over to the landowner but kept 22 Staters and one quarter Stater, with an estimated value of between £9,850 and £12,350, for himself. 

Ashley Petchey, prosecuting, said Wood did not notify the coroner of the find directly, but instead told a man who used the land who in turn notified the landowner who said he would contact the finds liaison officer. 

Prosecutors say Wood did not have permission to be metal detecting on the land, though he said he believed he did.

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Police became involved and officers who searched Wood’s house found 23 Iron Age coins. 

“He admitted he knew the coins were treasure and he shouldn’t have kept the coins,” said Mr Petchey. 

Simon Nicholls, mitigating for Wood, said: "He had no idea what they were worth but he just thought given the fact he’d handed over hundreds to the landowner he would keep some as a memento." 

He said Wood reported the treasure find to a man he believed to be the landowner but actually “merely has permission to keep horses on the land”. 

“What (Wood) didn’t appreciate is that as the finder of the items on the land the obligation is to notify the coroner himself within a prescribed time,” said Mr Nicholls. 

“He didn’t know that he had to do that.”  

Wood admitted the theft of 22 Staters and one quarter Stater and pleaded guilty to failing to notify the coroner of the find of the 933 gold Staters under the Treasure Act 1996. 

Wood was sentenced to complete 200 hours of unpaid work as part of an 18-month community order. 

His metal detector will be destroyed and he was ordered to pay £200 to the court.