Shropshire Star

Pennies from heaven: Preacher unearths Anglo-Saxon coin hoard in Shropshire

When a preacher from Texas came to Shropshire for a relaxing metal detecting holiday he wouldn't have bet on turning up anything spectacular.

Last updated
Michael Heim with one of the coins

Yet in a nondescript field near Oswestry on his first detecting trip to the UK, Michael Heim managed to uncover a hoard of six coins that are almost 1,000 years old.

The silver coins Michael found earlier this week remain in good condition, and still bear the likeness of Edward the Confessor, one of England's last Anglo-Saxon kings.

Chris Langston of Metal Detecting Holidays hosted the baptist preacher at Whittington for the duration of his tour, and described being "speechless" when Michael showed him what he had found over the course of two days.

The reverse of the coins. Pictures: Metal Detecting Holidays
The coins found by Michael Heim, showing Edward the Confessor. Pictures: Metal Detecting Holidays

Mr Langston said: "We were both in the field and Michael signalled to me that he thought had had got something special. You could see he was a little excited.

"I went over to him and he said: 'What do you think this is?'

"He put it in my hand and straight away I was speechless. I had to give him a hug.

"I said: 'That's very special!'"

Chris advised Michael to carry on digging but to take care, while he went to fetch a protective bag for the treasure he had unearthed.

"By the time I had walked just up the lane and back he had marked out another two signals. We carefully dug those two and it was two more coins.

"The next day the excitement settled down, but lo and behold another three came out.

Michael Heim with Chris Langston of Metal Detecting Holidays

"Generally they are found in groups of up to eight, we've found six so it's quite exciting."

Chris said that because of the quantity of the coins and the proportion of precious metal – in this case, silver – in them, they will be classified as a hoard and could soon be declared treasure by the county coroner.

"As soon as the three came out we notified Peter Reavill, the county's finds liaison officer. He's been guiding us through it, we've been following his instruction.

"It's [Michael's] first time digging in the UK – he's had a blast.

"It puts our little part of Shropshire firmly on the Anglo-Saxon map."

See one of Preacher Digger's videos here:

Two of the coins bear Shrewsbury mint marks, with the others originating in Hereford, Chester, Lewes and Canterbury.

Michael works as a preacher in a baptist church in Colorado, and also goes by 'Preacher Digger', his YouTube persona.

He produces several videos a week capturing his metal-detecting exploits in his native USA and on his trips abroad. He recently travelled to Latvia for a digging expedition.

He was due to leave Shropshire and return home on Friday.

Chris, a printer by trade, set up Metal Detecting Holidays two and a half years ago to make a business out of the hobby he loves.

He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and said that metal detecting "allows [him] to go to a different place".

"It's just the perfect thing for me. We get a lot of military guys over because it works so well for them.

"We only do small trips – we're not aiming to be greedy or take all the treasure out of the land."