By Brynn Mannino
Metal detectors are often called "the gift that keeps on giving," a description that certainly holds true in the case of these 10 lucky treasure hunters, who got much more than they bargained for when their trusty machines alerted them to an underground discovery. From the largest-ever unearthed golden nugget to a 67-year-old diamond engagement ring, these finds are rich in history - and value.
In 1989, a Mexican detectorist (a.k.a. metal detector hobbyist) was exploring the Sonora Desert when he came across a hefty hunk of gold. Today, that hunk is known as “The Boot of Cortez,” and - weighing in at 26.6 pounds (32.4 troy pounds, the measurement system used for precious metals) - is the largest nugget ever unearthed in the Western Hemisphere. From 2006 through 2007, it was even displayed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York as part of the “Gold” exhibition.
“The Ringlemere Cup” - 2001
Retired electrician Cliff Bradshaw discovered this gold cup on the then-private “Ringlemere Barrow” in England, which was later declared an archaeological site, and thought to have been an early Bronze Age (1700–1500 B.C.) funerary location (though recent findings of “grooved ware” pottery suggest an earlier Neolithic presence). Valued at just under $400,000, it was acquired by London’s British Museum. Five similar gold cups - including the celebrated Rillaton Cup - have also been found in Britain.
Grandma’s Engagement Ring - 2008
In 1941, Violet Booth threw her gold and diamond engagement ring into a field in central England while fighting with her fiancé. Though the two made up and married, they didn’t find the ring that day - or for the next 67 years. Enter Leighton Boyes, Booth’s grandson, who had a penchant for metal detecting. Two hours after mapping out the location, he discovered the lost ring four inches below the soil in perfect condition. Sadly, Mr. Booth had died 15 years earlier and never witnessed the ring’s return to his wife, who was 88 years old at the time of the discovery.
Beowulf Cache - 2009
In the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, there is reference to battling warriors stripping their enemies’ weapons of plush ornaments - similar, perhaps, to the ones Terry Herbert found buried underground in Mercia, one of five Anglo-Saxon kingdom sites. Consisting of 1,500 pieces of gold, silver and precious stone-inlaid war loot worth a reported seven-figure sum, the hoard - most recently on display at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery - gave new insight into the wealth of the Germanic people, who ruled England during the fifth through 11th centuries.
Iron Age Neck Ornaments - 2009
One hour into Dave Booth’s first metal detecting mission in Stirlingshire, Scotland, he made the discovery - the one all detectorists wait for. Grouped together in the soil were four gold, silver and copper necklaces called torcs. The treasure - worth $1.5 million and considered to be of Scottish or Irish origin - suggests there were links between local Iron Age tribes in Scotland, which were previously thought to have lived in isolation from each other.
“The Shrewsbury Hoard” - 2009
One month after 30-year-old Nick Davies began detectoring, he found the largest collection of Roman coins, called “nummi,” in recent British history. Reportedly underground for 1,700 years and corralled in a 70-lb clay pot, the estimated 10,000 coins date to the reign of Constantine I, when Britain was being used to produce food for the Roman Empire. Peter Reavill, officer from the Portable Antiquities Scheme, told Heritage-Key.com that it’s possible these coins were paid to a farmer, who kept them in a "piggy-bank." The hoard is currently at the British Museum.
Medieval Gold Locket - 2009
Three-year-old James Hyatt may go down as one of the luckiest babies in history. Out for an afternoon walk with his dad in Essex, England, he was taking a turn with the detector when he discovered a one-inch pendant featuring engravings of the Virgin Mary clutching a cross along with “the five wounds of Christ,” believed to date from the 16th century. The relic, which demonstrates “devotion to the blood and wounds of Christ” typical of “late medieval piety,” is up to 73 percent gold, but it has not been officially valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee.
Roman Lantern - 2010
On a “detecting rally” in Suffolk, England, 21-year-old Danny Mills found - intact but twisted - a Roman lantern made of bronze, the only one of its kind in Britain (the British Museum reportedly has fragments of similar lanterns). The artifact, which currently lives at Ipswich Museum and was once featured on an episode of BBC’s Digging for Britain, is speculated to have been used by a rich landowner to move between his residence and the outhouses at night, as Suffolk is known to have been home to plush Roman villas and country estates in the second century.
Skeleton from Roman Times - 2010
During April, on an estate near Chichester, England, detectorist Kenneth Mordle was out on a routine search, but what he found was anything but ordinary. Thanks to a silver ring nestled nearby, the detectorist discovered a skeleton believed to date back to the first or third centuries. The British Museum examined the remains, and the ring was returned to Mordle.
Civil War Cavalry Sword - 2010
When a neighbor showed 7-year-old Lucas Hall his collection of Civil War–era bullets that he'd found on his Virginia property using a metal detector, the boy became instantly hooked on the hobby. One week after Hall received a detector for his birthday, proving even luckier than his neighbor, he found a cavalry sword, which Gary Crawford, president of the Kernstown Battlefield Association, described as an 1840 or 1860 lightweight saber. The family held on to the relic despite its monetary worth.
Source : http://www.womansday.com
Posted : April 2011
Posted : April 2011