A novice treasure hunter armed with a beginner's metal detector scored a mother lode of Roman-Era 22-karat gold coins valued at $160,000. ABC News reported that the cache of 159 4th century coins represents one of the largest such finds in England's history.
The lucky man, who has chosen to remain anonymous, reportedly bought his low-powered metal detector at a hobby shop in Berhamsted, England. According to the shopkeepers, the same man returned a few weeks later with 40 ancient gold coins and asked the proprietors, "What do I do with these?"
Shopkeepers David Sewell and Mark Becher told the Daily Mail that they were stunned by what they saw – Roman solidi dating back to the 4th century. “These are 22-karat gold, they haven’t got any damage and they came out of the ground looking like the day they were made,” said Sewell.
The shopkeepers advised the man to report the discovery to the proper authorities, and after he received the required permits, he returned to the same location to find more treasure. This time he had the benefit of Sewell and Becher's experience, as well as a new arsenal of higher-powered metal detectors.
The strategy paid off, as the team discovered an additional cache of 119 Roman gold coins.
David Thorold, a curator at the St. Albans’ Verulamium Museum, told the Associated Press that the solidi coins were typically buried as a sacrifice to the gods when the owner was going on a journey or in times of war.
Although the coins were found on private land, experts at the British Museum will determine their final value and whether the anonymous treasure hunter will be able to share in the proceeds.