The pair from Ellerby in North Yorkshire initially thought they had come across an electric cable six inches under the concrete of their 18th Century detached property. But they were left stunned when the object turned out to be a cup of gold coins the size of a coke can that are up to 400 years old. With 264 coins in total, some are thought to date back to the reign of James 1 and are being sold off by the auctioneer Spink & Son.
It is thought to be one of the largest coin hoards on archaeological record in Britain.
The coins have been valued at £250,000, but the auctioneer is “excited” to find out how much the public is willing to fork out.
Gregory Edmund, from Spink & Son, said: “It’s exciting to see what they are worth in a public marketplace.
“I am at a loss to think of a comparable auction of this magnitude of English gold coins at one time.”
The coins date back to 1610, covering the sweep of the Stuart period.
Ending in the reign of George I, they are rare examples of artefacts from the English Civil War.
One coin depicting James I as a Roman emperor has been given a staggering value of £4,000.
Another comes all the way from Brazil.
The youngest coin is from 1727, providing a maximum estimate of the rough date the collection was buried.
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The coins are believed to have been amassed by Joseph Fernley and his wife Sarah Maister.
The family line is thought to have died out in the 1700s.
But in July 2019, the coins were rediscovered by a Yorkshire couple and have now been officially disclaimed to go on auction in October.
Mr Edmund said: “This is a fascinating and highly important discovery. It is extraordinarily rare for hoards of English gold coins to ever come onto the marketplace.
“This find of over 260 coins is also one of the largest on archaeological record from Britain. It was an entirely serendipitous discovery. The owners were relaying the floor of their house and found a pot about the size of a Diet Coke can, full of gold. They’ve never picked up a metal detector in their life. They were just relaying a floor and thought it was an electrical cable at first.
“It is a wonderful and truly unexpected discovery from so unassuming a find location.”