Metal Detectorists Discover Over 8,000 Medieval Silver Coins in Scotland

  • Metal detectorists unearthed possibly the ‘biggest ever’ silver coin hoard in Dumfriesshire, Scotland.
  • A total of 8,407 Edward I and II pennies, belonging to the 13th and 14th centuries, are estimated to be worth thousands of pounds.
  • This year, Scotland has seen a surge in artefacts discoveries after metal detection gained popularity during the Covid lockdown.

A team of metal detectorists found Scotland’s ‘biggest-ever’ medieval coin hoard in November 2022. The team unearthed 8,407 silver coins in the field of Dumfriesshire village. The rare find, named after the village, is now called the Dunscore Hoard.

The coins are Edward I and II pennies from the 13th and 14th centuries. According to experts, these pennies were buried approximately 700 years ago.

The ‘Biggest Ever’ Find

The detectorists unearthed the treasure just 20 miles from Balmaghie, which was given the title of the Galloway Hoard in 2014. The Galloway Hoard contained the finest collection of Viking items in the British Isles. Eventually, the authorities acquired the hoard for approximately £2 million.

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The officials recognized the ‘Dunscore Hoard’ as Scotland’s most significant coin hoard in the last 200 years. Moreover, it may well be the ‘biggest ever’ in Scottish history. Experts believe that the pennies could be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

A Treasure Trove Unit spokesman said, “The Dunscore Hoard is one of the largest medieval coin hoards found in Scotland since the 19th Century. It contains a mixture of Scottish, English, Irish and continental silver coins.”

Currently, experts are identifying, picturing, measuring, and weighing every penny.

Covid Lockdown, Metal Detection, and Discovery of Artifacts

Undoubtedly, there is a close relationship between the COVID lockdowns and the recent discoveries. With nothing to do, people turned to metal detecting to escape the pandemic stress.

Scotland saw a rise in amateur metal detectorists all over the country. The numbers of people pursuing the hobby added up quickly, and so did the discoveries. As a result, a record number of relics were discovered in 2022.

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The discovery of Dunscore Hoard was one of many. The Treasure Trove Unit in Scotland received as many as 12,263 artefacts in 2022.

At one point, the United Kingdom saw more than 200 discoveries each week in 2022. In October, the Treasure Trove Unit registered more than 900 of finds.

In contrast, only 1,551 ancient objects were found in 2019.

Crown Office Report

This year’s Crown Office Report published a ‘Review of Treasure Trove Policies’ after seeing a surge in metal detection. The report mentioned that authorities need additional staff to manage the backlog exceeding 5,000 ancient objects.

According to Scottish law, the Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel advises King’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (KLTR). In addition, the panel suggests the level of payment (ex gratia award) awarded to the discoverer.

It is a given that astonishing finds, such as Dunscore Hoard, help archaeologists dive deeper into the past. However, some critics claim that a rise in amateur metal detection jeopardizes Scotland’s buried treasure. Whatever people think, the hobby doesn’t seem to be going away.