1,078 Coins in Three Days

Hundreds of Hammered Coins Discovered in UK Farm Field

European metal detector dealer and friends dig 1,078 silver coins in three days

Chicago, IL (August 3, 2020) – Luke Mahoney was walking slowly across a field in an undisclosed location of the UK last month, swinging his metal detector from side to side, when a clear Beep… Beep… Beep came through his earphones. After hundreds of hours listening to his machine “talk” to him, Mahoney knew this particular sound meant his coil had passed over a nice coin. He carefully eased his digging tool into the ground and brought the target to the surface. Mahoney had just unearthed a silver, hammered coin dating back to somewhere in the 15th to the 17th century.

Anyone who has ever owned a metal detector has dreamed of making such a discovery, but outstanding finds take more than luck. The first requirement is a good metal detector. Mahoney is fortunate in that respect. He is the owner of Joan Allen Metal Detectors, in existence since 1968 and one of the largest metal detector dealers in Europe. As such, he can pick from a wide variety of brands and models. For his personal hunting, Mahoney uses a Minelab Equinox 800, a machine he knows will do everything he needs to make great discoveries. 

In addition to luck and a highly capable metal detector, unearthing exciting and valuable finds requires productive hunting territory. Detecting in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe helps in that regard. The continent has thousands of years of history, and untold numbers of coins, relics, and artifacts have been lost, buried and forgotten over these centuries. Just wandering around swinging a metal detector could bring that machine in contact with some of these treasures, but careful research can greatly increase one’s odds of being lucky. This is one way people like Luke Mahoney consistently uncover ancient sites to search. He has only been detecting for about 10 years, but has learned the proper way to do things.

Mahoney’s silver hammered coin was discovered near a site where his friend, Dan Hunt, had earlier found a remarkable, 2,000-year-old gold coin. “I just had a feeling the nearby farm owned by my friend was a good possibility for more discoveries,” says Mahoney, who continued covering the ground with his search coil after finding the first silver coin. His Equinox beeped again. And again. He began seeing more hammered coins on top of the soil.

Knowing he had just made an outstanding discovery, Mahoney called his friends, Matthew Brown and Dan Hunt, over to help. “I always enjoy hunting with friends. It makes things more exciting when you find something,” he shares. The duo immediately raced over to see what was happening, and Mahoney excitedly showed the men what he had found. 

The pace quickened as the men listened to their machines sound off. Some targets were shallow, while others were buried up to 18 inches in the soil. Even at this great depth, Mahoney’s Minelab Equinox 800 – equipped with Multi-IQ simultaneous multi-frequency technology – gave solid signals, clearly identifying the objects as coins.

The only unfortunate part about having a detector capable of reaching these depths is the digging involved to uncover the targets. Imagine pinpointing a target, then digging 12 to 18 inches down to find it. Then, digging again, and again, and again. Great care must be taken while digging so deeply, as hammered coins and other artifacts can be surprisingly brittle and break easily. You certainly don’t want to destroy a treasure by being careless. “I was still sore from the digging several days later,” Mahoney admits.

Minelab Equinox 800

Sometimes the coins were uncovered one at a time. Other times, a shovel full of dirt would bring up a handful of coins. The total kept mounting. Most of the targets were found in a concentrated area, but continued to be found in lesser numbers farther away. “It appears the coins were placed in pots and buried,” Mahoney speculates. “Then, a plow came through the field and spread them all over.”

Incredibly, the first day of digging brought over 1,000 silver, hammered coins to the light of day. The men had been fueled by their excitement, but eventually hit a wall of fatigue. The search was suspended until the following day.

Some additional coins were found over the following two days of detecting, but the majority had already been discovered. All told, the men had recovered an astonishing 1,078 coins. 

Mahoney’s research suggested the location of the discovered hoard was once the site of a 400- to 600-year-old military encampment. “I believe the coins were buried in pots as payroll money for the troops,” he says. “When I began searching, I scraped away the dirt and found stacks of silver coins – big stacks of silver coins – surrounded by broken, glazed pots.”

Mahoney is still cataloguing his massive find, and its value has yet been determined. To him, it’s priceless, the value of which can only be exceeded by the personal rewards of the experience itself. That experience is why he detects, and why he chooses to make his living as a metal detector dealer, helping others to find success in making their own personal discoveries. “I love the thrill and excitement of detecting,” he relates, “and helping to support the passions and pursuits of other treasure hunters is almost as rewarding.”

Like others who seek the treasures of history, Luke Mahoney will celebrate his find, but only briefly. The research will soon resume as he continues his quest to find the next hoard of ancient treasures. 


Minelab is an Australian, multi-award-winning business that has successfully scaled world markets to command global leadership in its key areas of operation. Based in Mawson Lakes, South Australia, with regional offices in Cork, Ireland, Dubai, UAE, Chicago, U.S., and Itajai, Brazil the company specializes in advanced electronic technologies. Since its origins in 1985, Minelab has been the world leader in providing metal detecting technologies for gold prospecting, treasure hunting and landmine clearance. Through devotion to research and development and innovative design, Minelab is today the major world manufacturer of handheld metal detector products. Over the past 30 years, Minelab has introduced more innovative and practical technology than any of its competitors and has taken the metal detecting industry to new levels of excellence. Minelab is a Codan Limited company (ASX: “CDA”). To learn more about Minelab, visit minelab.com.

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