Metal detecting is a great hobby, even if you’re not treasure hunting. But hey — let’s be real. Who among us wouldn’t love to find treasure while they’re out for a leisurely stroll with their metal detector? You wouldn’t be the first person to trip over vast riches while out metal detecting. Here are seven of our favorite examples of people who accidentally became overnight millionaires.
1. The Cuerdale Hoard
The Cuerdale Hoard was discovered in England in the 1840s, making it the earliest appearance on our list. From the days of Danish rule over England, the Hoard was the largest hoard of Viking silver ever found outside of Russia, as well as the second-largest ever. All told, the Hoard included 88 pounds of silver, 80 pounds of which were bullion.
Many of the objects were not of Viking origin at all but instead came from the continental empire of Charlemagne. How the Hoard got there is unknown, with theories ranging from Vikings retreating from Dublin to Vikings storing the treasure for the afterlife, to a third theory that the hoard was in fact buried by Christians suffering under the pagan rule of the Vikings.
2. The Staffordshire Hoard
The Staffordshire Hoard is a massive hoard of intricate Anglo-Saxon metalwork. Even if this were fashioned out of lead it would be extremely valuable. Fortunately, it’s not fashioned out of lead, but instead out of gold. While the Sutton Hoo Hoard might be more famous, it was not as large as the Staffordshire Hoard. All told, it included 11 pounds of gold, three pounds of silver and over 3,500 pieces of garnet cloisonné jewelry. The Hoard was valued at over $5 million.
3. Caesarea Gold Treasure
While most of these treasures were found under the ground, the Caesarea Gold Treasure was instead found under the sea in the State of Israel. A group of diving enthusiasts happened upon this massive treasure of over 2,000 gold coins from the Fatimid Caliphate. Unfortunately for the divers, Israeli law awards all antiquities to the State. There is no finders’ fee for the lucky person who happens upon Hoards such as this.
4. The Hoxne Hoard
The Hoxne Hoard is the largest Roman treasure ever uncovered. Perhaps most shockingly, this was uncovered simply by a man out for a stroll with his metal detector, who ended up a millionaire when all was said and done. The Hoard included over 14,000 gold and silver coins, as well as 200 pieces of silverware and historically significant pieces such as the Empress pepper pot. It was valued at over $4 million and led to a friendship in ruins as well as major changes to British treasure finding law.
It all began when a farmer was looking for a lost hammer and called in a friend and metal detecting enthusiast. This uneventful loss of a tool led to the very eventful discovery of the Hoard. Anyone can view what was unearthed at the British Museum, where it has lived since the entire Hoard was unearthed and cataloged.
5. The Saddle Ridge Hoard
The exact details of who found the Saddle Ridge Hoard and where they found it are unknown. The couple who discovered this treasure trove of over $10 million in gold coins have done their level best to remain anonymous and have succeeded in doing so. The federal government investigated whether or not they would be able to make a claim, but at the end of the day, the couple was allowed to keep the entire Hoard — at least the parts they didn’t have to fork over to the IRS.
The Saddle Ridge Hoard is similar to the Hoxne Hoard, because the couple were out walking their dogs when they discovered a strange object, which turned out to be a can filled with gold coins. If you are interested in finding your own “Hoard” then be sure to check out our current top recommendations for the best metal detectors for beginners.
6. The 1715 Fleet
The 1715 Fleet is a little different than other entries on our list because everyone knows what it is, where it is and can easily make a trip out to take their shot at grabbing what they can. The 1715 Fleet is a Spanish fleet from the height of the colonial empire that sunk with untold riches in tow. Indeed, it is virtually impossible to estimate the total value of what was lost, but it is estimated that over $400 million in gold is still unaccounted for, with the largest find to date being worth $4.5 million.
Fortunately for the Spanish, most of the gold was recovered centuries ago. But such was the enormity of the Hoard making its way back to Spain that they were able to simply leave over $400 million of it behind.
7. Sutton Hoo Treasure
The Sutton Hoo Treasure changed the way that the British people viewed their own history overnight. Hidden under a mound of dirt was a 90-foot Anglo-Saxon ship that was probably the final resting place of King Rædwald of East Anglia. The uncovering of the Hoard didn’t make anyone rich or famous — it was donated at no fee to the British Museum. However, the Treasure changed the view of the early Anglo-Saxon period from a culturally void dark age into a cosmopolitan and vibrant period.
8. Henry VI Figurine
No one is entirely sure where the figurine of King Henry VI of England came from, but it’s suspected that it was once part of the crown of King Henry VIII. What we do know is that it was found by Kevin Duckett in Northamptonshire in 2017. Duckett was out metal detecting and within half an hour, he found the gold figurine. Treasure Hunting Magazine editor Julian Evan-Hart, said he was “99.9%” sure it was a genuine find from the lost crown of Henry VIII. The value was estimated at approximately $2.75 million.
Metal detecting is a fun hobby even when you’re not stumbling into a fortune that would last several lifetimes. However, you wouldn’t be the first person to strike it rich with unintentional treasure hunting. Whether it’s gold hoards from the days of Anglo-Saxon Britain or a gigantic pile of gold eagles with indeterminate origin, there’s tons of gold out there just waiting for the lucky detectorist to discover it.
Written by Sam Jacobs from Kellycodetectors.com