More Than 47,000 Ancient Artifacts Have Been Discovered in the U.K. Since the Start of the Pandemic
One amateur treasure hunter found 63 gold coins while weeding the garden.
One of the upsides of the pandemic is that it's encouraged many people to try new hobbies. A surprisingly popular choice among those stuck at home? Discovering historical artifacts in your own backyard! According to Good News Network, the British Museum says that more than 47,000 ancient objects have been discovered by amateur archaeologists in the United Kingdom since the start of the pandemic. The museum reports that they saw a significant rise in the number of regular people recording findings of antiques while the country was under a full lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic between March 22, 2020, and May 13, 2020. But it's not just regular folk who are find treasures beneath the ground. One of the largest discoveries was a haul of at least 63 gold coins, which date back to the 15th century, and was found by a family weeding their garden. Overall, 6,251 discoveries were reported during the initial lockdown alone.
"It is brilliant to see the scheme growing from strength to strength during lockdown thanks to garden discoveries and digital reporting," said UK Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage in a news release. The largest coin hoard, which included 63 gold coins and one silver coin featuring monarchs Edward IV and Henry VIII, was likely buried in the 16th century. It included coins bearing the initials of several of Henry VIII's wives, including Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, and Jane Seymour.
Other discoveries included other medieval treasures such as a first-century ancient Roman furniture fitting made of a copper alloy, featuring the face of the god Oceanus, and 50 South African gold coins, which were discovered in a small town about 50 miles northwest of London. The UK's Treasure Act of 1996 requires that anyone who discovers rare artifacts report any discovery thought to be more than 300 years old to the local coroner in the area in which they found it.
The mission continues to "ensure finds, important for understanding Britain's past, are not lost but instead recorded for posterity," said Michael Lewis of the Portable Antiquities Scheme.