Metal detector unearths �570k Dallinghoo Gold

THE man who unearthed the Dallinghoo Gold told last night of the moment he found the spectacular hoard - but decided to come back for the rest a week later because he had to go to work.

John Howard

THE man who unearthed the Dallinghoo Gold told last night of the moment he found the spectacular hoard - but decided to come back for the rest a week later because he had to go to work.

The 60-year-old, who has been metal detecting for some 25 years, first found a single coin at about 4pm on a cold Sunday in Easter and decided to call it a day.

He went home and researched his find on the internet and discovered that it was a special gold coin.

The finder, who lives near Woodbridge and is keen to preserve his anonymity, then had to work for six days before he could return to the field and carry on his search.

The following Sunday, when he had a day off, Michael returned and found another eight coins, which he popped in a little bag.

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He said: “I thought, o no, there are readings everywhere, the detector was going berserk, the bleeping was going and even when I lay the detector three feet from the hole it was bleeping.

“I just pulled the coins out, they were just lying there only six inches below the surface. But when I got eight I thought I was a bit hungry, it was cold, wet, getting late and virtually dark.

“So I came back the next day. When I found the majority I took them home and put them in my washing up bowl and rang Cliffy, who said bring them up there.

“I normally find buttons, millions upon millions of them. They used to spray sewage from London here in the 1800s, the sewers could not cope in those times, and these pewter buttons are quite interesting and have pictures on them.

“I have also found copper coins, from George III's reign, and one silver coin, from Roman times, the odd musket ball.

“These gold coins though were in a lovely made pot, you could see where it had been spun on the wheel. I never expected to find this. I wish they could talk, when these coins went in the ground we were living in mud huts, what was it like, who owned them, was it wooded here then?

“Metal detecting is exactly like fishing. You throw put your hook and see if you land a big fish and sometime you get tiddlers.”

The coins, if in excellent condition, could be worth �700 each, or �577,500. The land has now been thoroughly searched by archaeologists to ensure all the gold has been unearthed.

Michael had been searching the area after researching an old map and was looking for the remains of a 16th century building, never expecting to find artefacts from before the birth of Christ.

Farmer Cliff Green, 66, was retiring the day Michael told him of the find, and at first did not believe him because it was near April 1.

Mr Green, a farmer all his life who owns about 200 acres of diary land with his brother where the find was made, is stunned.

Mr Green, who is married with two sons, said: “Michael told me he had found all these coins and told me had taken them, home. He then brought them up to my house and the following morning as soon as the archaeology office opened we rang them.

“A young field officer came out and as soon as she saw them she called Jude (her boss) who hastily arranged to come out just after lunch.

“I handed them over to her and she took charge of them. I knew it was a big find and I did not want responsibility for them here, I was glad she took them.”

His wife Val added: “This is absolutely fantastic. When my husband had them laid out on the table in the dining room that night my first reaction was to cry, they are so beautiful.

“To think that they were in the ground all that time, is amazing. I am full of admiration for Michael, it was so very moving and exciting. We did not sleep that night and sat up in bed thinking about it.”

Michael's incredible turn of fate started one day last April, when he was using his metal detector in a field in the small village, near Wickham Market.

He collected 783 coins, and after taking them home and washing them he handed them over to the landowner - who then contacted Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service.

A dig partly funded by the British Museum revealed the hoard had been deposited in a ditched enclosure of a late Iron Age date.

They also found another 42 gold coins, bringing the total to 825. The coins are currently at the British Museum.

All but two are believed to be from the Iceni Tribe native to East Anglia. The five earliest coins date from 10 - 30BC and are known as Snettisham type after a hoard found in Snettisham, Norfolk, in the 1980s.

The bulk of the Dallinghoo Gold is from Freckenham. The gold staters are named after a hoard found in Freckenham in 1885.