Filthy rich? The jobless man who stumbled on a £1m hoard of coins

Lucky Paul Coleman
Lucky Paul Coleman

The jobless man who discovered a £1 million hoard of Anglo Saxon coins said he might ‘spread the love’ with 100 fellow amateur diggers.

Paul Coleman, 59, was one of scores of metal detectorists on an annual Christmas dig when he stumbled upon the coins.

He was digging with other members of the Weekend Wanderers on December 21 when he found 5,251 coins buried two feet underground.

The coins, which were perfectly preserved and featured the faces of Anglo Saxon kings, were in a lead bucket and buried two feet underground on farmland close to Lenborough.

Experts said the extremely rare coins could be worth more than £1 million and Paul is set to split the proceeds with the landowner – if a coroner rules in their favour.

When asked what he would do if he was allowed to keep his share, the father-of-two from Southampton said: “There isn’t really an established etiquette.

“But what you can do is acknowledge the fact that you have great friends in the hobby and you do tend to share your love with them.

“I normally uncover lots of rubbish, musket balls, buckles, a few coins, nothing really terribly exciting.

“They are historical but nothing like this. It is impossible to comprehend.

“When I got to the bottom of a whole load of digging, I moved a few inches of soil with my hands to scoop it out just to get a little bit deeper.

“My hand scraped across something and when I looked it was a small piece of lead. When I looked back in the hole I saw just one piece of disc shining.

“I went to pick that one disk up and behind it at that point I could focus down a dark hole and see lots of other little grey shapes, at that point I knew it was a hoard.”

Paul said he first thought he had found around 15 or 20 coins but he was stunned to count more than 5,000.

Club leader Pete Welch, 56, said the hoard is equal in importance to the Staffordshire Hoard of gold and garnets found by a metal detectorist in 2009.

He said: “This would have been a huge amount of money in its day. One coin alone would have been a lot back then.

“Everyone dreams of a pot of gold. The reality is you spend most of your time digging up bits of junk.

“This is the first of its kind since I’ve been running the club, which is 23 years.”

Because the coins are precious metal over 300 years old they fall within the remit of the Treasure Act.

They will now be taken to the British Museum for conservation and identification before a coroner will decide whether they are legally treasure.