Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Tutbury Hoard, Part 1

The coins were found in casks in the River Dove
Workers in 1831, while repairing a mill-race on the Dove River, found a chunk of mud-caked coins from the 13th and 14th centuries. Curiosity was piqued, folk flocked to the area, and searches of the river turned up 360,000 silver coins in total. It would be impossible to put a value on a hoard that huge. When only 26 were sold at auction in 2010, they were evaluated at £3000.

More and more people with picks and shovels descended on Tutbury, digging in and around the river. One contemporary account claimed about 300 people at any one time could be seen wading through the river. Digging in and around the river was declared off-limits and the coins designated Crown property by King William IV. That law is still in force.

The Duchy of Lancaster ultimately stepped in to maintain control over the area. Tutbury Castle was owned by the Duke of Lancaster, and it was assumed that the treasure had once belonged to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster (more on him in the near future). Approximately 100,000 coins were turned over to the Crown, but the majority remained in the hands of the finders.

Two of the finders, neighbors John Blackburn and Hugh Barber, had located a large cache. Barber cashed his part in immediately, receiving £100. Blackburn sold enough to buy himself a horse and cart, and a gun. But he kept a lot of the coins. He and his wife became reclusive, even from their own sons. They stopped working their farm, and kept people away.

In 1852, the Blackburns were found murdered. We'll take a 19th century side-trip next to talk about that.

No comments:

Post a Comment