A metal detectorist is toasting his success after discovering an extraordinary hoard of silver civil war era coins worth at least £100,000 in a field owned by his local pub in Suffolk.
Luke Mahoney stayed up for three nights straight after discovering the haul of over 1,000 historic pieces, keeping watch for rival ‘nighthawk’ detectorists who might come to loot his precious find.
The 40-year-old has searched for ancient treasures across the globe and was astonished when he found the ‘biggest hoard’ of his life just behind his local, using his trusty Minelab Equinox 800 detector.
The experienced detectorist, who has been looking for precious metals for the past ten years, said he did it for the ‘rush’ and compared the thrill to catching a big fish.
The married father of three, who runs his own metal detector shop, Joan Allen Electrics, has lived in the sleepy hamlet of Lindsey, in Suffolk for the last five years.
A week ago (Sunday July 26] he was out with two of his friends detecting in a field behind the Lindsey Rose pub after finally convincing the owner to let him search there.
The Lindsey Rose is run by Mr Mahoney’s friend Charlie Buckle, 26 and his dad James, 55.
Charlie said he was having Sunday lunch with his family when he got a call from Mr Mahoney saying he had found something special.
He said: “Luke gets quite excited about everything he finds so at first I was like ‘yeah ok’. But then he kept ringing and told me I had to come down and see what he had found.”
Mr Mahoney and his friends Dan Hunt and Matt Brown, had been out searching the fields behind the Rose since 10am that morning.
The 15-acre field in which they found the coins had been recently cropped and a plough had somehow managed to crack a clay earthenware pot buried 2ft beneath the ground.
Mr Mahoney said: “We went into the field at about ten o’clock.
“We did some detecting in the morning and found a beautiful gold coin and a little sixpence and then we went and had lunch at the pub.
“We went back out to the fields and almost immediately I hit this signal and I pulled out this Charles I coin. Then I hit another signal, and another.”
Mr Mahoney began digging with his customised stainless steel spade and quickly realised he was onto something serious.
He continued: “They were everywhere. It was pandemonium. After ten minutes of searching I hit this massive signal and I thought ‘this is it’.
“We dug and saw the pot. That feeling of scraping the dirt away and seeing the coins is indescribable.”
Mr Mahoney immediately contacted the local ‘Finds liaison officer’ and notified him of the find. He also declared the treasure to the coroner.
Mahoney had just unearthed 1,061 silver, hammered coins dating back to somewhere in the 15th to the 17th century.
He said the most popular theory from the experts and historians he had spoken to was that the coins were buried in the field by a wealthy landowner who had gone off the fight in the English Civil War.
Valuation expert Nigel Mills examined some of the coins found and said the hoard would fetch at least £100,000 at auction.
He said the earliest coin was a Elizabeth I era shilling dating back to 1573-78. The find also contained many Charles I half crown’s from 1641-43.
Each Charles I coin would be worth around £50-75 but Mr Mills said they would be worth a lot more if they were linked to famous historic events.
For the next three days and nights Mr Mahoney and his friends were forced to wait in their cars and keep watch for any ‘nighthawks’ – rival detectorists – who might come and steal their hoard.
Mr Mahoney added: “I was up for three days solid. I didn’t sleep I just sat there with my eyes open looking for nighthawks.
“I waited in my car watching all night making sure no-one tried to sneak in and take the hoard. Even now I am a bit paranoid.”
He said that a few days ago he found a casing from a headphone in the field indicating someone had snuck in and searched for any remnants of the hoard.
Mr Mahoney credited his success to the ‘unique’ metal detector he was using.
He said: “I knew the nighthawks wouldn’t find anything because they weren’t using the same detectors as us. They weren’t using the Minelab detectors. The Equinox – you switch it on and it does all the work for you. It would be able to tell me a bit of metal in the ground was a key for example.”
He now plans to find something of even greater historical value and urged people to take up his beloved hobby, and said: “If you think you have a bit of Indiana Jones in you – you should do it.”