Overseas trips, buying a new car and paying off the mortgage. This is what two detectorists planned to do after they thought they stumbled on a hoard of Roman coins worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. To their horror, they soon discovered they had been duped by a fake haul used as props in the BBC show ‘Detectorists’.
Andy Sampson and Paul Adams were metal detecting in a freshly ploughed field on the Suffolk/Essex border when suddenly Paul cried out: “Roman gold, Roman gold”. Paul ran towards his friend clutching what appeared to be a small Roman gold coin in his hand. Their detectors unearthed around 50 coins along a 30ft furrow together with shards of pottery. “[It] made sense”, Andy explained, “because the Romans buried them in pots. Everything was as it should be”.
Stunned with their finds, the two friends who also work together to deliver oxygen to medical patients believed they were in possession of at least six Emperor Nero coins with an estimated value of £26,500 each. Before sharing their discovery with the landowner and authorities they took their haul to a neighbour and long-time detectorist who is also a member of the Suffolk Archaeological Survey. Their hopes were dashed.
“He couldn’t believe his eyes when I poured them out on the table. But as soon as he picked one up he said ‘these are wrong, they’re not real”, Andy said. When Andy told his wife Sam she confirmed his worst fears. As an employee of the estate office of the farm where the hoard was dug up she remembered the BBC had recently filmed there. The location manager for ‘Detectorists’ confirmed the coins were props used on the set.
Despite the crushing disappointment, Andy and Paul vowed to continue detectoring.