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Metal detector unearths 400-year-old sixpence in grazing land

By This is Surrey  |  Posted: June 07, 2009

  • Lucky day: Metal detecting enthusiast Keith Andreae with the Queen Elizabeth I silver sixpence he unearthed on Sunday Picture by Mark Davison

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A metal-detecting enthusiast "hit the spot" when he unearthed a silver coin more than 400 years old on Sunday.

Keith Andreae, a retired aquarium shop owner, unearthed a sixpence from the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth in pastureland in East Surrey.

Mr Andreae, 75, of Berry Walk, Ashtead, was "sweeping" the grazing land at a farm near Limpsfield when he heard a crisp signal in his headphones.

He dug out a lump of soil near an oak tree and saw the sixpence.

It was identified by Surrey finds liaison officer David Williams, who set up an advice table at the field where members of the Weekend Wanderers detecting club were searching in the weekend's hot sunshine.

Keen local historian Mr Andreae said: "I've been metal-detecting for four years and I have only ever found one other silver 'hammered' coin and that was so brittle it unfortunately broke into small pieces.

"This is one of my best finds so far."

The coin has been photographed by archaeologist Mr Williams and the image will be added to the Portable Antiquities Scheme's internet database, together with details of where it was found.

The discovery was particularly relevant as this year marks the 500th anniversary of the accession of Elizabeth I's father, Henry VIII, to the English throne in 1509.

The Surrey History Centre in Woking and Hampton Court Palace have been running exhibitions to mark the milestone event.

Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry's second wife Anne Boleyn.

Her mother was executed when Elizabeth was aged two and she spent much of her childhood a virtual prisoner, trusting no one. She reigned for 45 years from 1558-1603.

Mr Andreae said he will be allowed to keep the coin.

A solitary find of silver does not fall under the treasure trove laws. Its value is not particularly high, as the coin is quite worn, but Mr Andreae said he has no intention of selling it.

It was a particularly lucky day for Mr Andreae, as he also unearthed a worn silver sixpence from the reign of Charles II.

It dates from the 1670s – just 10 years after the Great Fire of London.

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    Kay, Redhill  |  June 08 2009, 11:21AM

    Keep digging! People used to bury their gold etc near landmarks like oak trees to avoid being robbed when they went into local towns.