A METAL detecting enthusiast from the Ribble Valley can treasure a 13th Century find made in a farmer’s field.

Photographer Andrew Smith discovered six silver pennies from Edward I's reign while taking part in a dig at Pendleton in February.


Blackburn coroner Michael Singleton has now ruled the unearthed coins can now be returned to the 46-year-old from Clitheroe.

Mr Smith told an inquest the coins were buried around 10 inches beneath the surface, clumped together in a single clod of earth.

The discovery was later officially reported to Stuart Noon, the finds liaison officer for Lancashire and Cumbria, who then sent the coins to the British Museum for further analysis.

Holly Walker, the museum’s assistant treasure registrar at the British Museum, said in a report the coins appeared to date from between 1279 and 1283. Three were minted in London, two in Canterbury and one in Lincoln.

“The coins are hardly worn and cannot have been in circulation for a very long, suggesting the deposition date was not long after minting,” she added.

Coroner Mr Singleton said that to his 'surprise' the British Museum had relinquished any claim on the near-mint condition coins and the farmer who owned the field had also not indicated any interest in the find.

Declaring the find as ‘treasure’, Mr Singleton added: “This must be the whole reason for metal detecting.

“The thought that you can find something and be the first person to handle these coins for more than 700 years, that they have lain there for that period of time.

“You were the person to bring them back into the world, so to speak.”

The coins, depending on their condition, can fetch more than £90 when sold.

Speaking after the hearing Mr Smith, who was taking part in the dig with colleagues from the Hyndburn and Ribble Valley Metal Detecting Club, has been involved in the pursuit for around six years.

“I’m probably going to mount them on a nice board when they are eventually returned,” he said.

“I know that some people want to sell everything they find but that’s never been something I’ve been particularly interested in.”

His previous most distinctive discovery was a Henry VI gold coin, which he made in London, a few years ago.

But because that was only a single coin find, there was no necessity, under the Treasure Act 1996, to hold an inquest.

One of the rarest royal coins ever sold, for £516,000 in 2014, was a commemorative gold sovereign ‘proof’, struck for Edward VIII, before his abdication.