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Coins site 'may hold more treasure'

Published 23/04/2015

The four 14th century silver coins found by amateur treasure hunter Tom Crawford on land close to Banbridge, Co Down
The four 14th century silver coins found by amateur treasure hunter Tom Crawford on land close to Banbridge, Co Down

There could be more buried treasure on farmland where four 14th century silver coins were found, a coroners court has heard.

The Scottish groats were unearthed by an amateur treasure hunter who used a metal detector to scour a recently ploughed field near Banbridge in Co Down.

In 2001 five similar coins five were discovered in the same area.

Dr Greer Ramsey, from the National Museum Northern Ireland, said: "It is not beyond the realms of possibility that there are more coins to be found."

An inquest at Mays Chambers in Belfast was told that other hoards found in counties Armagh and Down contained between 25 and 30 coins.

Robert Heslip, a curator with the Ulster Museum, said: "The only way to keep money safely in the past was by concealment. It should be regarded as normal behaviour."

The coins were found scattered over an area of about 100 yards.

Tom Crawford, who was described by the coroner as an "old hand at metal detecting", said he immediately recognised them as treasure.

He said: "I found them one at a time."

The coins, which are now with the National Museum Northern Ireland, are believed to be worth a modest amount.

They will be sent to the British Museum in London for valuation and the money will be split between the land owner, Harold McClements, and Mr Crawford.

Asked if he intended to revisit the area for further searches, Mr Crawford joked: "If Mr McClements would plough the field.

"I think he has sowed it out in grass so I might have to wait 25 years."

Scottish groats are commonly found in eastern Ulster and burying money close to a landmark was normal practise during the 14th century, the court was told.

Describing the find as "wonderful", Coroner Suzanne Anderson said: "Having heard the evidence under oath I declare that the finding is treasure."

Outside the court, Mr Crawford said he was delighted with the find.

He said: "I knew as soon as I saw it that it was treasure. Once you see the glint of silver then you know that you have found something good."

Mr McClements revealed there had been an old fort on his land. He said he was not surprised treasure had been discovered.

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