The quest began more than 30 years ago when metal detectorist, Reg Mead, heard a story from a farmer’s daughter. On the island of Jersey in the Celtic sea in the 1950s, this girl’s father was working the land. While removing a tree, he uncovered an ancient urn stuffed with silver coins. However, the urn was initially unnoticed. During the tree removal, the urn was broken and most of coins were scattered about the area. The farmer gathered up what coins he could find, but the rest were left in the field – plowed over and lost again to the earth. According to the farmer’s daughter, the field was somewhere near the parish of Grouville (the southeast corner of the island). With that story and general location, Mead and his treasure hunting partner, Richard Miles, started their long search for what they hoped would be a few Celtic coins. In the end, they discovered one of the largest coin hoards in history.
After years of checking out fields hither and yon, Mead and Miles believed that they had finally found the fabled field, based on geography and description. However, their initial searches of the field turned up nothing. Rather than give up and move on, Miles worked at developing a better search plan. By comparing satellite images, historical maps of the island, and land ordinance maps, he settled on an area that most likely hid the treasure.
Using the painstaking research to scan the field proved much more fruitful – the duo started turning up coins. Practically every time they went out to the area, they came back with some silver and bronze coins – some Celtic, some Roman. Sensing there was something special in that field, Mead brought out the big guns – his prized “deep-seeking” metal detector. While normal metal detectors only scan the surface of soil (about a foot or so) for precious metals, the deep-seeker was capable of detections more than a meter deep.
Miles and Mead took the deep-seeker to where the largest concentration of coins seemed to be, according to their previous outings. After about 20 minutes, the detector went crazy. Something big was below the surface. Find out what in our next blog post!