A metal detectorist was left stunned after he discovered the ‘biggest hoard’ of his life just behind his local pub.
Luke Mahoney, 40, has been travelling the globe in search of precious metals for the last 10 years.
The experienced detectorist runs his own metal detector shop, Joan Allen Electrics in his hometown of Lindsey, in Suffolk, where he has lived with his wife and three children for the last five years.
But he couldn’t believe his luck when his trusty Minelab Equinox 800 detector picked up £100,000 worth of silver civil war era coins in the field behind the Lindsey Rose pub.
Luke was out with two friends, Dan Hunt and Matt Brown, detecting in a field behind his local pub after convincing the owners – his friends – Charlie Buckle, 26 and his dad James, 55 to let them search there.
Charlie said he was having Sunday lunch with his family when he got a call from Luke saying he had found something special.
He said: “Luke gets quite excited about everything he finds so at first I was like ‘yeah ok’. But then he kept ringing and told me I had to come down and see what he had found.”
Luke and his friends had been searching the fields behind the Rose since 10am that morning.
The 15-acre field where they found the coins had been recently cropped and a plough had somehow managed to crack a clay earthenware pot buried 2ft beneath the ground.
Luke said: “We went into the field at about ten o’clock.
“We did some detecting in the morning and found a beautiful gold coin and a little sixpence and then we went and had lunch at the pub.
“We went back out to the fields and almost immediately I hit this signal and I pulled out this Charles I coin. Then I hit another signal, and another.”
That’s when he knew he was onto something.
After digging in the area with a stainless steel spade he added: “They were everywhere. It was pandemonium. After ten minutes of searching I hit this massive signal and I thought ‘this is it’.
“We dug and saw the pot. That feeling of scraping the dirt away and seeing the coins is indescribable.”
Luke immediately called the local ‘Finds liaison officer’ and the coroner to notify them of the find.
He found 1,061 silver, hammered coins which dated back to somewhere in the 15th to the 17th century.
After speaking to a number of experts and historians, the most popular theory was that the coins had been buried in the field by a wealthy landowner who had gone off the fight in the English Civil War.
Valuation expert Nigel Mills examined some of the coins found and said they would fetch at least £100,000 at auction.
The earliest coin was a Elizabeth I era shilling dating back to 1573-78.
The find also contained many Charles I half crown’s from 1641-43.
Each Charles I coin would be worth around £50-75 but Mr Mills said they would be worth a lot more if they were linked to famous historic events.
Luke admitted that he and his friends stayed up for three nights straight after the discovery to keep watch for rival ‘nighthawk’ detectorists who might come to steal their precious find.
Luke added: “I was up for three days solid. I didn’t sleep I just sat there with my eyes open looking for nighthawks.
“I waited in my car watching all night making sure no-one tried to sneak in and take the hoard. Even now I am a bit paranoid.”
A few days after the find, he discovered a casing from a headphone in the field indicating someone had snuck in and searched for any remnants of the hoard.
Luke credited his success to the ‘unique’ metal detector he was using, the Minelab Equinox 800.
He said: “I knew the nighthawks wouldn’t find anything because they weren’t using the same detectors as us. They weren’t using the Minelab detectors.
“The Equinox – you switch it on and it does all the work for you. It would be able to tell me a bit of metal in the ground was a key for example.”
He said that he would never consider using a different machine.
But Luke isn’t stopping there, he’s looking for his next big find.
He urged people to take up his beloved hobby, and said: “If you think you have a bit of Indiana Jones in you – you should do it.”
Michelle Meyers, Vice-President of Global Marketing from Minelab said: “When we found out about his discovery last week, we knew he was onto something.
“He told us he’d be using one of our metal detectors and the whole Minelab team were thrilled for him, we know what an incredible feeling unearthing a find like this is.
“Luke is a seasoned metal detectorist and knows what to do but we immediately offered our help in making sure he had access to the proper authorities in the UK.
“Starting your journey to becoming a metal detecting enthusiast is very easy and very rewarding but you must follow the laws in your own country.
“In the UK that means abiding by the Treasure Act 1996 and reporting all finds.
“We’re delighted for Luke and can’t wait to see what else he unearths!”