The Hand of Faith is a special gold nugget on display at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas. This highly valuable specimen travelled a long way to get there.
The Hand of Faith was originally found in Australia – which has a famous reputation for gold nuggets. The country even named one of it’s bullion coins the “Australian Gold Nugget.” Kevin Hillier discovered the Hand with his metal detector near Kingower, Victoria in 1980. His metal detector must have been shooting off the charts when it passed over the famous nugget. The Hand of Faith was only about a foot beneath the ground, resting in a vertical position – almost like hands together, fingers pointed in prayer. When excavated, the nugget was a whopping 874.82 troy ounces.
Shortly after its discovery, the Hand of Faith was auctioned off and the Golden Nugget casino put in the winning bid, which was speculated to be about $1 million. According to present day gold prices, the Hand of Faith may be worth as much as $1.4 million, depending on its millesimal fineness.
Currently, the Golden Nugget proudly displays the Hand Faith for all its guests. It holds the world record for largest gold nugget ever discovered by a metal detector.
In a previous post, we discussed the legend behind the Cuerdale hoard. Apparently, standing on the south bank of the River Ribble and looking upriver allowed you to see the “greatest treasure in all of England.” Many had searched for the treasure and failed. Over time, the legend began to fade away. But one day, the treasure was rediscovered… by accident.
On May 15, 1840, workers were repairing the southern embankment of the river Ribble, near Curedale Hall. It was business as usual, until a corroded lead box fell from a dirt wall the workers had dug out. It was covered in muck, but the workers knew it was valuable and began to swarm the find. The foreman broke it up, claiming it was likely pewter, solder, and tin – nothing but junk. He was proven wrong after the find had been cleaned and inspected. The greatest treasure in all of England had been found.
How great was it? The Cuerdale Hoard consisted of more than 8,600 silver items, including jewelry, coins, ingots, and hacksilver – making it the largest Viking silver hoard ever discovered in England. However, its origins are still shrouded in mystery with many theories. The silver coins in the hoard – which are usually good archeological indicators – come from all over the world, with many rare and never before seen specimens. This makes narrowing down the owner and his reasons for burying it hard to determine. For now at least, the origins of the Curedale legend and treasure are lost to time.
When most people think of buried treasure, they also think of pirates. While that has been true in a number of historical cases, Vikings are a strong (if not stronger) contender for “most buried treasure.” We’ve covered Viking treasure before, but the Cuerdale hoard is really something else. It’s another example of how much the Vikings valued silver, and how times of uncertainty and war forced them to keep their treasure safely hidden. However, people knew about the Cuerdale Hoard for hundreds of years – it just took a long time to find it.
As long as anyone could remember, there was a local legend known to most of the people in Lancashire, England. It was said that if you stood on the south bank of the River Ribble near Walton-le Dale, and looked up the river toward the village of Ribchester, you would be looking at the greatest treasure in all of England. The legend was so old that everyone had long forgotten its origin. Over time, it fell into the land of make-believe – as the river had been scoured by treasure hunters through the ages. Farmers took ploughs and dug deep all along the river and its banks, but never turned up anything. The legend was surely an old wives’ tale, or maybe even a reference to the beautiful countryside. For a long while, people gave up searching along the River Ribble and the legend began to fade into memory.
However, the treasure proved to be real after all. And the part about it being “the greatest treasure in all of England” was no understatement; not by a long shot. So how was this vast hoard finally found? Find out in our next blog post!