Treasure Hunter Fined For Finding 400k GBP Medieval Loot

Story By: Koen Berghuis, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News

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Picture Credit: CEN

A treasure hunter who thought he struck big when he found 9,000 medieval coins worth 400,000 GBP will now be forced to hand over the loot and pay a fine.

Treasure hunter Daniel G., 29, was looking for World War II objects with his metal detector in a forest near Ellwangen in the south-western German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg when he made the unique finding.

Yesterday (Tuesday), the treasure was officially presented by the State Office for Monument Conservation in Esslingen

Conservation chief Claus Wolf said: “It certainly is the largest coin treasure of the late Middle Ages, at least in Baden-Wuerttemberg.”

The authorities presented 9,200 silver coins as well as a ring, pottery shards and fabric remnants of a Medieval money bag in both of which the coins were probably stored.

The coins, which all come from the historic town of Schwaebisch Hall, were most likely buried during the late 13th to early 14th Century by a rich trader or nobleman out of fear of robberies.

Archaeologists have thoroughly cleaned the coins to return them in their original shiny silver state, something which took them around five minutes for each coin. 

In total the treasure contains 5.8 kilogrammes (12.7 lbs) of precious metals and is estimated to be worth around 500,000 EUR (433,000 GBP).

Bizarrely, Daniel G. will not earn a penny for finding the treasure.

On the contrary, the authorities have even fined the man for not following the regulations.

Daniel G. said he found the treasure in 2017 but initially decided to keep it for himself.

He recalled thinking that he found yet another WW II bullet when scanning the forest floor with an acquaintance who is a fellow treasure hunter, but ended up finding a lot of coins.

Daniel G. said: “There were more and more. They were covered with verdigris, they filled my whole backpack.

Instead of handing over the treasure to the authorities, he stored it at home, while also giving a part of the treasure to his friend.

Daniel G. said: “I put my coins in a lunch box and put them on the fridge.”

He even contacted a television expert to examine the worth of the treasure and did internet research himself.

After half a year Daniel G. got second thoughts about cashing the treasure and decided to contact the authorities.

Daniel G. handed over his part of the treasure to the State Office for Monument Conservation, which later also confiscated the part he gave to his friend.

The authorities decided to hand Daniel G. a penalty order for misappropriation and he was fined 1,600 EUR (1,386 GBP).

Archaeologist Dr. Jonathan Scheschkewitz explained why Daniel G. has been punished and did not even receive a finders fee.

Dr. Scheschkewitz said: “We cannot give credit to someone who has committed a crime. That would be the wrong signal.”

According to state law, Daniel G. needed the approval of the Monument Conservation Office as well as from the owner of the land to make excavations.

Treasure hunters who search without the necessary permits are committing a misdemeanour according to Baden-Wuerttemberg law.

Koen Berghuis

Editor of DACHS / Benelux desk for Central European News, roving correspondent with a penchant for travel, culture, geopolitics, history and the in-depth story behind the headlines.

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