Some people never get over the childhood dream of finding buried treasure. I like to think it isn’t just avarice, that it’s the search itself that holds such significant meaning. Of course, finding money in unexpected places has its charm, too!
Whether in it for the chase or the reward, amateur treasure hunters and regular folks just out for a walk have found treasure for centuries.
Sometimes a gold hoard is at least as notable for its historical significance as for its monetary value. The last few decades have turned up some amazing finds.
Millenia-old gold hoards found across the pond:
Found in 2012 in a field on the Channel Island of Jersey, United Kingdom, by metal detectorists who had been perusing the area for decades. Le Câtillon II seemed to be a coin hoard, but upon further archaeological investigation and painstaking work taking the corrosion-infused artifacts apart, it contained gold, silver, and glass, in addition to the 1st century BC Celtic coins that were first apparent.
This one near St Albans, Hertfordshire, was also found in a field in the UK in 2012 by a metal detector (it makes you consider buying a metal detector, doesn’t it?). One hundred fifty-nine solidi (as the name suggests, solid gold coins) from the late Roman period had been buried and then scattered, probably by plowing, over the centuries.
Found in Hammerwich, England, in 2009, this is the largest Anglo-Saxon gold hoard ever found. The pieces are simply stunning, from gold filigree to garnet-studded gold strips. While it includes jewelry and religious objects, the Staffordshire Hoard is primarily a martial trove.
Meanwhile, closer to home
More modern gold hoards, which is to say from the last two or three centuries, are a better bet if you’re looking for treasure in the United States.
It is probably the best-known gold hoard found in the US in the last decade, found by a couple on their land in California. Worth around $10 million, the hoard contained 1,427 gold coins from 1847 to 1894.
Less notable from a purely monetary perspective but perhaps more exciting to younger treasure hunters, Tripp Enyart was just seven years old in 2018 when he found a treasure trove of jewelry, antiques, and half dollars dating to the late 19th century. All this on his first day with a new metal detector!
Not all famous gold hoards were hidden centuries ago. Forrest Fenn, something of an eccentric, apparently hid a treasure chest worth a reported $2 million to create a real-life treasure hunt for the public. A wild saga ensued, seemingly ending in 2020 when Fenn confirmed, shortly before his death, that the treasure had been found, though he wouldn’t say where.
What will you find?
While your first thought upon reading of these gold hoards might be to invest in a metal detector, you may first want to peruse your own house for treasures you didn’t even know you had. Rare coins are worth a lot. Most exciting may be the gold coins minted from 1838 to 1933, as the vast majority have been melted down, increasing the value of those left. Silver coins, such as the rare silver half dime, and even historically significant and surprisingly valuable copper and nickel coins could be hiding in your piggy bank or the boxes in your attic. Start your own treasure hunt today!