- Most of the gold coins found by metal detectorists, who have asked to remain anonymous
- Ten were found by the then policeman, who did not report them and were dismissed and sentenced to 16 months
- A treasure trove of hoardings in Norwich yesterday revealed coins to be the property of the Crown
The largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold coins ever found in England has been discovered in Norfolk, with 131 coins and four other gold objects.
The hoard contained more gold coins that the most famous discovery of the period – Sutton Hoo of Suffolk – produced 37 coins, two ingots and three blank discs.
Most of the Norfolk artifacts, which date back 1,400 years, were found between 2014-2020 by a single metal detector, who have asked to remain anonymous.
The owner of the land where the gold was found has also requested anonymity, meaning the origin of the coins is being described only as ‘West Norfolk’.
However, the 10 coins were found by a second detector, David Cockley, who failed to report his discovery as required and tried to sell them for £15,000.
Mr Cockle, 54, was an active police officer – but was sacked from his post in 2017 after admitting to theft and sentenced to 16 months in prison.
Unfortunately, it was not possible to get back the two coins he discovered, as they had already been sold and had disappeared in the antiquities trade.
A treasury inquiry into the hoard – which experts believe was buried shortly after AD 600 – was held in Norwich yesterday, finding the coins the property of the Crown.
Experts told those present at the interrogation that the coins most likely belonged to a traveling merchant, who had intentionally buried them for safekeeping.
The largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold coins ever found in England has been discovered in Norfolk, with 131 coins and four other gold objects. Image: Some Coins
The hoard (pictured) contained more gold coins that the most famous discovery of the period – Sutton Hoo of Suffolk – produced 37 coins, two ingots and three blank discs.
Most of the Norfolk artifacts (pictured), which date back 1,400 years, were found between 2014-2020 by a single metal detector, who have asked to remain anonymous
However, 10 coins were found by a second detector, David Cockley (pictured), who failed to report his discovery as required and tried to sell them for £15,000.
About Sutton Hoo
Located near Woodbridge in Suffolk, Sutton Hoo is home to two burial mounds dating from the 6th and 7th centuries – the latter a ship burial.
The undisturbed burial site is believed to have been the resting place of King Rodwald of East Anglia.
The ship is not often named the ‘ghost ship’, thanks to which only traces of iron rivets and wood remain.
Within the ship, however, in 1939 archaeologists found a ceremonial helmet, a shield, a sword, pieces of silver plate from the Byzantine Empire, and metal fittings made of gold and gems.
The Sutton Hoo artifacts are now housed in the collection of the British Museum, London, while the mound site is under the supervision of the National Trust.
The quest for Sutton Who was recently dramatized in Netflix’s historical drama ‘The Dig’.
According to experts, most coins are Frankish Tremis, but there are also nine gold ‘Solidi’ – a large coin of the Byzantine Empire, worth three Tremis.
The hoard also contained four other gold objects—including a type of stamped pendant known as a bracket, a small gold bar, and two other pieces that were once parts of larger jewelry items.
At the time when the hoard was buried, England was not yet unified, but was divided into several smaller Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.
Of these, the Kingdom of the East Angles – of which the areas today are known as Norfolk and Suffolk – was one of the most important.
The region is also one of the most productive in the discovery of archaeological material by metal detectors.
The previous largest collection of coins from this period was a purse discovered in 1828 in Crondall, Hampshire containing 101 coins.
However, experts believe that the site was scoured prior to the discovery and therefore may have contained more coins than originally existed.
“This is a very important discovery,” said Gareth Williams, curator of the British Museum’s Early Medieval Coinage.
‘It is close to the date of the famous ship burial from Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, and although it does not contain as much gold as the entire Sutton Hoo burial, it contains many more coins. In fact, it is the largest coin collection of the period known so far.’
‘This should be seen with other recent discoveries from East Anglia and elsewhere, and will help transform our understanding of the economy of early Anglo-Saxon England.’
With the support of the British Museum, Norwich Castle is hoping to acquire the Museum Hoard.