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Fillingley Short Cross Hoard

Two English detectorists have recently released details of their amazing find of a hoard of short-cross coins numbering 127 complete or fragmentary coins.

It all began late last year when Roy English and Robert Foster gained permission to search a farm, previously never detected upon. Several months went by with the two detectorists searching the farmer's fields one by one as they became available, finding a variety of coins and artefacts dating from Roman times to the present day.

Early this year they were left with just one very large stubble field vacant of crops. Research showed nothing of interest except that the field had once been five fields with several footpaths running through them.

They searched the field a couple of times before a piece of a short-cross penny turned up, followed by a further eight pennies. As it was near dark, they took the coins to the farmer and expressed the opinion that they may have stumbled across a buried hoard.

The farmer ploughed the field the next day and that evening Bob and Roy found a further ten coins. They marked out an area the size of a tennis court and during the next week worked a methodical search pattern with their White's machines. By the end of the week the duo had found over 50 coins and fragments with no signs of a pot. It was at this moment that they informed the coroner and local archaeologist of their find.

Several days later the farmer informed them that a farm machine manufacturer wanted to demonstrate a new farm machine and that the hoard field would be an ideal spot for such a demo.

The farmer deep ploughed the field driving the furrows really deep, down to 2.5 feet/3 feet. They detected this area again and came up with a further eight coins and a beautiful ring brooch that looks to be made of gold. The following day the new machine was demonstrated, which was a disaster..... it was made to separate stones from soil in a potato field but Bob and Roy found that every coin found that day were freshly broken fragments. This proved to them how important it was that detectorists rescue coins and artefacts before new farming technology turns them to dust!

As the farmer could not delay the planting of the field much longer, he agreed to move the soil around for the next three days to see if Bob and Roy could find any more coins. They spent the next three days doing this ending up with a grand total of 127 complete or fragmentary coins. All were of the short-cross type. The majority were minted during the reigns of King John (1199-1216) and Henry III (1216-1272). Some eleven mints were represented with more than half (76) being from London and the next largest group from Canterbury (11). Nine mints have a low total; Winchester (3), York (3), Oxford (2); and one from Chichester, Durham, Exeter, Ipswich, Lincoln and Norwich. Twenty-four coins came from unidentified or uncertain mints. There were also three cut halves. Other oddities included an Irish penny of John minted in Dublin, and two sterlings of William I of Scotland, one of which was struck in Roxburgh. The latest coin in the group dated to around 1200 AD.

In court, on May 8th 1997, the hoard was found to be Treasure Trove. Rob and Roy must now wait for the British Museum and a valuation from the Treasury. The value in the press has ranged from several thousand pounds to one of £2.5 million!

The hoard would have had a spending power - in modern day terms - of £2,500. The hoard was probably concealed by a merchant on his way to, or coming back from, Coventry. For some reason or other he never returned for his cache.