7 Incredible Hoards Discovered in the Past 7 Years

For thousands of years, people have buried their treasures to keep them safe from authorities and marauders or as offerings to the gods. Every now and then, someone is lucky enough to find one of these long-lost hoards. Here are seven of the best finds in the last seven years.

1. The Staffordshire Hoard

For sheer glamour, nothing can beat the Staffordshire Hoard, more than 4000 pieces of Anglo-Saxon gold and garnet-studded weapons fittings from the late 6th/early 7th century found by metal detectorist Terry Herbert near the village of Hammerwich, central England, in July 2009. The area was part of the Kingdom of Mercia when the treasure was buried. Dominated as it is by martial artifacts, the hoard was likely spoils of war buried either as a votive for the gods or to keep it safe for a later recovery that never happened. The discovery lends new insight into the sheer quantities of wealth owned by the Anglo-Saxon elite and into the skill of their craftsmen, who could make gold filigree wires one-fifth of a millimeter thick.

2. The Le Catillon II Hoard

The Le Catillon II Hoard was discovered in 2012 on the Channel Island of Jersey after three decades of searching by metal detectorists Reg Mead and Richard Miles. Thirty years of work were proven more than justified; the Le Catillon II Hoard is the world's largest Celtic coin hoard with an estimated 70,000 Roman and Celtic coins from the 1st century BC. They were removed from the site in a solid block of soil weighing three quarters of a ton and are being painstakingly excavated behind a glass-walled laboratory in public view at the Jersey Museum. The hoard continues to reveal hidden surprises as the coins are removed—most recently six gold torcs.

3. The Hackney Double Eagles

Terence Castle discovered this hoard of 80 gold Double Eagles dating from 1854 to 1913 while he was digging a pond in his backyard in the Hackney borough of London in 2007. The coins were buried by the family of Martin Sulzbacher, a Jewish refugee from Germany, in the early days of World War I when the possibility of a German invasion and raids on banks loomed large. Upon his return from internment as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man, Sulzbacher found his house destroyed and his extended family killed by a direct hit during the Blitz. His four children, also interned on the Isle of Man, survived the war, and his son Max, 81, claimed the hoard on April 18, 2011

4. The St. Albans Hoard

One lucky a metal detectorist found these 159 Roman gold solidi in a field in St. Albans, southeastern England, in late 2012. Struck in Milan in the late 4th century, the coins bear the names and faces of the five different emperors who issued them—Gratian, Valentinian, Theodosius, Arcadius, and Honorius—and are in exceptional condition. This is all the more remarkable considering that they had been scattered over the field by centuries of farming.

5. The Beau Street Hoard

In a departure from the norm, the Beau Street Hoard was discovered by actual archaeologists during a dig in Bath in 2007. More than 17,000 Roman coins, dating from 32 BC to 274 AD, had fused into one block of corrosion and soil and were excavated in the British Museum conservation lab. Conservators found that six bags of coins had been deposited in a square container. The container and bags rotted away centuries ago, but because the hoard was kept whole in its soil block, X-rays showed the coins still held the shape of their original bags.

6. The Ruelzheim Treasure

At the other extreme is the Roman gold and silver treasure from the early 5th century AD that was torn from the ground near Ruelzheim, southwestern Germany, by a looter. The artifacts—beautifully detailed leaf-shaped solid gold brooches and gold pyramids from a magistrate's ceremonial tunic, a solid silver bowl with gold accents and gemstones, a set of silver and gold statuettes, and fittings from an ancient curule chair—were only discovered by authorities in early 2014 when the looter tried to sell the artifacts on the black market. The curule chair, an incredibly rare survival that was apparently intact in the ground, fell apart when the looter yanked it out. Then he covered his tracks by destroying the find site.

7. The Saddle Ridge Hoard

michel, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Europe may have the lion's share of hoards, but the United States burst onto the scene in a big way in February 2013 when a couple walking their dog on their northern California property discovered 1427 gold coins buried in eight cans. The Saddle Ridge Hoard coins date from 1847 to 1894 and include some of the finest examples of their type known. Although theories about the hoard's origin proliferated—bank robbery! mint robbery! Black Bart's stagecoach banditry!—the way the coins were deposited over the course of years suggests they were the life savings of someone who didn't trust banks. Possibly on account of all the robberies.

Civil War Cannonballs Found on South Carolina Beach in Aftermath of Hurricane Dorian

ABDESIGN/iStock via Getty Images
ABDESIGN/iStock via Getty Images

Hurricane Dorian skimmed the United States' East Coast last week, creating a trail of damage residents are still dealing with. But it wasn't just trash and debris the storm surges left behind: As WCSC reports, two cannonballs dating back to the Civil War were discovered on Folly Beach in South Carolina in the aftermath of the storm.

Aaron Lattin and his girlfriend Alba were walking on the beach on September 6 when they saw what looked like rocks nestled in the sand. As they examined them more closely, they realized they had found something much more special. The weathered objects were actually cannonballs that have likely been buried in the area for more than 150 years.

Incredibly, this isn't the first time Civil War cannonballs have been discovered on Folly Beach following a hurricane: In 2016, Hurricane Matthew unearthed 16 of them. Folly Island was used as a Union base a century and a half ago, and items leftover from the artillery battery built there are still scattered around the shoreline. The couple behind this latest discovery believes there are more waiting to be found.

Old cannonballs may look like cool artifacts to treasure hunters, but they should still be treated with caution. Police and bombs disposal technicians were called to the scene at Folly Beach to confirm the cannonballs were no longer functional.

[h/t WCSC]

A Lost Japanese Village Has Been Uncovered in the British Columbia Wilderness

Ferenc Cegledi/iStock via Getty Images
Ferenc Cegledi/iStock via Getty Images

In 2004, a retired forester reached out to Capilano University archaeology professor Bob Muckle about investigating what looked like the remnants of an old logging camp in the forests of British Columbia, Canada. North Shore News reports that each spring for the next 14 years, Muckle took his students there to help him excavate what he now believes was a sort-of-secret Japanese settlement.

The site is located on the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, about 12 miles northeast of Vancouver. It’s approximately the size of a football field and contains the remains of more than a dozen cabins, a bathhouse, a road made of cedar planks, and a cedar platform that may have been a shrine. Muckle and his students have also unearthed more than 1000 items, including sake and beer bottles from Japan, teapots, game pieces, medicine bottles, clocks, pocket watches, clothing buttons, coins, and hoards of ceramics.

Japanese businessman Eikichi Kagetsu secured logging rights to the area near the camp around 1918, so it’s likely that the settlers were originally loggers and their families. Though the trees were cleared out by 1924 and Kagetsu continued his business ventures on Vancouver Island, there's evidence to suggest that some members of the logging community didn't leave right away.

Muckle believes that at least some of the 40 to 50 camp inhabitants chose to remain there, protected from rising racism in Canadian society, until 1942, when the Canadian government started moving Japanese immigrants to internment camps in the wake of the outbreak of World War II.

Muckle thinks the residents must have evacuated in a hurry since they left so many precious and personal items behind. “When people leave, usually they take all the good stuff with them,” he told North Shore News. His team even uncovered parts of an Eastman Kodak Bulls-Eye camera, a house key, and an expensive cook stove that someone had hidden behind a stump on the edge of the village. “They were probably smart enough to realize people might loot the site,” he added.

According to Smithsonian.com, Japanese immigrants had been victims of racism and discrimination in Canada since the first wave of immigration from Japan in 1877. They were generally met with hostility across the country, and kept from voting, entering the civil service, and working in law and other professions. Anti-Japan sentiment dramatically worsened after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, and The Canadian Encyclopedia estimates that more than 90 percent of Japanese Canadians—many of them citizens by birth—were displaced during the war.

To Muckle, this all contributes to the likelihood that villagers would have chosen to stay insulated by the forest for as long as they could. “The impression that I get, generally speaking, is it would have been a nice life for these people,” he said. It wouldn't be the first time a remote, wild area served as a refuge for a persecuted community—farther south and east, escaped enslaved people settled in the swamplands bordering North Carolina and Virginia for the century leading up to the Civil War.

While Muckle believes people stayed in the Canadian camp until the 1940s, it's hard to prove—there are no records for the inhabitants of the camp or where they might have gone. If there’s evidence in the village that can prove residents did stay until the 1940s, it will soon fall to other curious archaeologists to find it: Muckle thinks this will be his last season at the site.

Or, maybe the smoking gun will be discovered by someone who isn’t an archaeologist at all. Here are 10 times ordinary people (and one badger) unearthed amazing archaeological finds.

[h/t Smithsonian.com]

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