Tealby Hoard

In this hobby it’s sometimes amazing how doors can often seem to be swinging shut when, in fact, they are opening to opportunity, we just need to spot that moment and act on it.

Having “inherited” the organisation & running of a small East Midlands numismatic & metal detecting club I thought it best to ensure that the long standing club land farmers had a bona fide, up to date signed search agreement with agreed boundaries and when access was available.

All was going well until I reached Farm 4. “Sorry lad, I’m only a tenant I don’t think I can sign that.” wasn’t what I needed to hear. However I saw it as an opportunity & discovered who the landowner was from the tenant and made contact via letter.

As with many large estates it was a very complex process involving meetings with landowner, estate manager, contract farmers, gamekeeper and, most dauntingly the land agent.

Having provided concise, valid insurance documentation and risk assessments thanks to the NCMD & a search agreement ensuring accurate finds recording the land agent provided what can best be described as a large map with a variety of tenanted farms, in hand estate land, parkland and certain “no go areas” such as quarries & lakes. Total acreage in the region of 10,000 acres, I was like a child locked in a sweetshop.

The landowner also signed up until 2022, our first 10 year search agreement.

The entire behind the scenes work took in excess of 3 years which led us to our first two day estate land outing on August bank holiday weekend 2012.

We shared our good fortune by inviting other local clubs as we had a fair amount of land to search with a limited time frame due to minimum tillage & direct drilling. The landowner had agreed with the dig fees going toward our 2012 chosen charity of the Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance.

Sunday started with a decent turn out of almost 30 searchers, unfortunately the finds were what one can only describe as sparse, and despite the local history it was more recent finds from WWII that kept most people digging. A brief hint of past activity surfaced in the shape of a small broken Roman brooch & single Roman bronze of Constantine.

Therefore it was of little surprise that only 6 hardy souls turned up on the Bank Holiday Monday even with the promise of new fields, little did the others know what they were to miss, but with hindsight it made things more manageable that they never came!

Having sent the attendees off onto the new field I settled down to catalogue all the detritus from the previous day as agreed with the estate.

It wasn’t long before Andy walked back to my mobile HQ with a very satisfied smile on his face; he opened his hand and showed me two Tealby pennies. Even with my limited detecting experience I reasoned that these enigmatic coins either turned up singly or in hoards & purse losses….and Andy had 2 already and agreed a hoard or purse loss was possible.

Then a small degree of panic set in……never had a “club dig” hoard before….what next…hold on I have posts & tape , just for this situation….calm down…breathe!

Andy & I loaded up with posts, tape, GPS etc and headed for the “hotspot”.

I asked Andy what area he would like marked off and put my machine down on the stubble while we decided the best possible “flow” of coins relative to topography & previous ploughing.

Area marked off Andy set to work with his DEUS, I picked up my machine, and turned it on outside of the marked area…..I turned around to walk away from the area when my Minelab Explorer SE gave a real ear popping signal, I looked down and lying in the dust & stubble was a Tealby penny!!

Things were starting to get complicated, however 2 people methodically gridding an area tends to draw attention and Graham wandered along with his Garrett 250 to see what was going on, I told him what we were doing, requested he stay outside the marked area and we carried on…….. of course within minutes Graham was walking toward me with a broken fragment of a Tealby. The hoard was obviously very well scattered.

There were now 3 finders, 1 primary & 2 secondary. Why not one more? Gary was just driving home after a fairly uneventful day when he spotted us on the ridge and walked over to see what was going on, the excitement encouraged him to get his XP Goldmaxx out of the van and join in the gridding outside of the marked area. Within a few minutes another Tealby was found. 4 finders!

It was a day most wouldn’t want to end but end it did with a final score of 11 Tealby`s and fragments of alongside a couple of unrelated hammered silvers to boot.

The following day having recuperated, contacted the landowner, FLO, estate manger & game keeper we decided on a plan of action in our diminishing search window before any further coins got mashed by huge machinery drilling a rape crop.

The aptly named “Tealby Musketeers” spent 3 very pleasant evenings searching and even managed to arrange for the field to be rolled as the drying clay was getting difficult on tired legs! Our efforts were rewarded using a methodical, marked search pattern with a variety of machines we had added a further 5 Tealbys making a total of 16. I would like to credit Gordon Heritage for his excellent “Spray Paint” method of Minelab GPX5000 searching which certainly reaped rewards.

On the fourth evening we had arranged a meeting between the four finders, the landowner, and his son & estate manager to show them the coins before they disappeared into the Treasure process. All I can say is that 4 people in the room turned white as the landowner’s son went to flatten one coin with his thumb!!

Unfortunately a further discussion with gamekeeper & estate manager had curtailed searching as shooting was about to start however, little did we know, that the miserable weather that was to follow would work in our favour, the saga would continue.

Roll forward to January 2013 and the drilled rape crop had failed in the sustained cold wet period we had endured, as a saving crop the estate had decided to plough & broadcast beans across the site, another door had opened.

I rang the landowner and explained the situation, disappointingly he would only agree to Andy & I returning to search as he was loathe drawing attention to the site but we abided by his wishes and arranged 2 Sunday searches with the gamekeeper to avoid the Saturday shoots.

Being January it was bitingly cold with snow on the rough plough making conditions far from perfect to put it mildly, however fortune favours the brave and we were able to add a further 9 coins to the hoard using Andy`s DEUS & my Explorer SE & Minelab GPX5000.

The subsequent searches had led me to make a moral judgement that any coins I found relative to the hoard would be given to Andy as the original finder to hand in, with hindsight it might have been best to close the entire field at the time but the flipside is that the other outlying coins might never have been found, the dilemmas of a dig organiser!

On the 4th July 2013 the hoard was declared Treasure at the North West Leicestershire Coroners court and Leicestershire County Council has expressed an interest in acquiring for local display.

It is hoped that our Society will be able to assist in the acquisition of the hoard for the benefit of the local museums to be displayed at either Donnington Le Heath or Loughborough Old Rectory museums as the date of the Tealby coinage is very pertinent to both the Estate and the Abbey that influenced the area at the time.

Follow up- 2020, 7 years later……….

The coins still continue to surface, the original hoard was generously donated by the Landowner and the Society funded the acquisition of the original finders share, meaning the County Museums service got the coins for free.

They are currently on display at Charnwood Museum, Queens Park, Loughborough.

The “Garendon Tealby Hoard” is now the second largest hoard of Tealby coins found in the UK and currently numbering 37 coins with 3 more waiting to follow the same Treasure process. Links below: