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Hoard of Tealby Pennies

Finder Took Up Detecting After Early Retirement

By Bill Jones

Like as many others I took up metal detecting rather later in life. It all came about due to enforced early retirement. At first there were the usual jobs around the house that had needed attention for years, but after a while these ran out. I had to think of something else to fill my time. I gave it serious thought and one day remembered a very interesting day that I had some years before, accompanying a relative on a day out metal detecting. After seeking the advice of a local detectorist and buying the usual magazine and joining the local detecting club I actually purchased a Spectrum XLT. I have been pleased with this choice ever since.

On my very first outing with the club I found a 14th Century lead alloy seal matrix with the club in superb condition, plus a few coins. It was beginners luck, so I was told, but it had me hooked.

It was not long before I found my detecting partner - Fred at the club and since then we have become close friends. After a few months the infrequent outings of the club were not enough and we obtained permission to search a couple of nearby farms.

Very Little Reward

The first we approached was very obliging and friendly but told us that we would not have much luck because his small farm had been heavily quarried for ironstone in the last century. He was right, although we did make a small collection of buckles, musket shot and old coins. It was hard work and very little reward for all the miles we walked so it was with relief that we obtained permission to search on another farm. Also I was anxious to try out some of the XLT programmes I had copied from the Internet.

Not To Come Anymore

We spent a happy two months on this second farm visiting it twice a week. Our find rate was quite pleasing recovering many roman coins, brooches, bronze figurines and a stylus, as well as this we uncovered several thimbles, crotal bells and many other coins. Our joy was short lived because one day the farmer asked us not to come anymore. He gave several reasons but the most important seemed to be that his wife had just bought a detector.

Field Missed on Previous Visit

It was nothing for it but to go back to our original much-quarried farm. Because we had not been there for some time we, fortunately as it turned out, decided to call and see the farmer again. He pointed out that there was a field behind the farmhouse which we had missed on the previous visit. It turned out that we only just had the time to explore it because outside contractors were expected any day to inject the land with fertiliser. He assured us that after the raw fertiliser was injected we wouldn't want to be anywhere near the field.

Then The Frenzy Started

We set off up the edge of the field not expecting to find much, as the previous experience on this farm had taught us. We got to the far end of the field and all we had recovered was one decimal coin. As we turned to follow the next edge of the field Fred shouted "A Hammered Silver". I was thinking how lucky he was when he shouted that he had found another, and then another. I ran across to join him changing my standard mode into the Hammered silver programme. Within a minute I had found a silver penny. Then the frenzy started and in a very small area of only a few square metres we dug up almost 90 coins that afternoon.

Picture of Tealby Penny

We returned early the next morning, having told the farmer all about our find. By the end of the second day we had added nearly another 50 coins to our collection. However, late that afternoon the contractors arrived and started laying out the injection pipes, although they were not going to start the process until the next day. This at least gave us a few hours on the third day and this increased out tally to another 10 coins.

Internet Program Very Useful

The XLT had to work hard to winkle out the last coins as they were the deepest and some were only cut halves. In the end I was successfully digging the faintest whispers and measured some coins as deep as 9 1/2 inches. The internet programme on 'Depth' proved very useful for this. Then, we were reluctantly forced to give up but I don't think the XLT missed many coins. If it did we can always return to the field this autumn or winter. Our total haul was 147 Henry II silver pennies (Tealby - Type) 1158 - 1170 issue. The local Archaeology Dept identified all 6 types and 8 different mints The condition of the coins was indifferent as this type usually is. I suspect the coins were buried in 1173 during local disturbances in South Northants.

Divide Proceeds With Farmer

We agreed to divide any proceeds equally with the farmer and as I was about to go on holiday for 2 weeks, hurried immediately to declare them to the coroners office, knowing that the Treasure Act requires finds to be reported in 14 days. Anyway, I thought things could be settled by the time I came back from holiday. I now know better, because for 10 weeks they sat in a drawer in the local Archaeology unit before they were collected by the British Museum, where I understand they could remain for up to a year.

Without the XLT and it's programme I am sure we would not have recovered many of these coins especially the deepest ones. Although the machine has more than paid for itself in a short space of time, I believe it's going to be some time yet before we realise any proceeds from this find!

Copyright Bill Jones