London auctioneers Morton & Eden expect bids of £30,000 for hoard of silver groats found in field In 1465, as the Wars of the Roses raged, someone hid his worldly wealth in a secret location and went into hiding. He never returned to claim his money. Now the 186 silver coins will be auctioned.
News-Antique.com - Oct 22,2009 - In the summer of 1465, as the Wars of the Roses raged, an unknown person hid his worldly wealth in a secret location in a Northamptonshire field and went into hiding. He never returned to claim his money.
In 2005 - 540 years later - a metal detectorist stumbled across the hoard of 324 silver coins and alerted the authorities. The British Museum, where the coins were researched and identified as silver groats, purchased 14 of them to be put on show to the public, while the remainder were returned to the metal detectorist who unearthed them and the land-owner on whose land they were found.
The two men have decided to keep 10 coins apiece as mementos, while the remainder will be sold by specialist London auctioneers Morton & Eden on Wednesday, December 2. The 290 coins, which were found in the Brackley area of Northamptonshire, are expected to raise a total of around £30,000, the money to be split equally between them.
After asking permission from the landowner to search the field, the detectorist was thrilled to find five coins on his very first attempt. “I was amazed,” the man said. “They were lying there about a foot below the surface. I couldn’t believe my eyes but I was convinced there were more, so I went back the next day and discovered the rest. There was no sign of a container, so I assume the coins were hidden originally in a cloth bag which obviously had rotted away over the centuries.”
The coins date mostly from the reigns of Henry V (1413-22) and Henry VI (1422-60). They are all silver groats (fourpenny pieces) and are relatively free from corrosion, although clearly, they had been in circulation for some time before they were hidden and had thus received some wear.
Said auctioneer Jeremy Cheek: “When they were in circulation, a silver groat would have been enough to buy a sheep. Thus, the hoard represents the value of a flock of a sheep, perhaps a man’s main asset. As there are no gold coins in the hoard, it does not appear to have been the property of a particularly wealthy person. The gold coin of the time, known as a noble, was worth 6s 8d (1/3 of a pound) which would have represented a lot of wealth for a poor person to hold in one coin. A new type of gold coin, the ‘ryal’ or ‘rose noble’ valued at 10s (1/2 of a pound), was introduced the same year the hoard was deposited. The hoard included two contemporary Scottish groats.”
The groat was the largest silver coin of the time and might be equated to something like a modern £20 note. The hoard, with a face value of £5 7s 4d, is roughly equivalent to £6,500 today. None of the smaller silver coins current at the time was included. “The hoard was clearly a deliberate attempt to conceal a sizeable stash of money,” Jeremy Cheek added.