A LUCKY treasure hunter, who is just months away from getting married, is set for a £5,000 windfall after he discovered a rare coin in a field near Stockbridge.
The soon-to-be bridegroom, who did not want to be named, uncovered the 1,200 year-old Anglo-Saxon penny while out and about with a metal detector.
The coin is said to be from the reign of the Mercian King Offa and is one of only two known survivors of its type.
Now the lucky 24-year-old builder, who gets married in July, could stand to gain a £5,000 pay-out from the discovery when it is auctioned in London on June 8.
He said: “I am getting married in July and so it will help pay for the cost of the wedding and the honeymoon.
“I don’t think I will ever find anything as good as this again. It is absolutely amazing.”
The man, a builder who has been metal detecting since he was 13 years old, decided to search the field near Stockbridge.
He gained the consent of the landowner prior to the search and he will split half of the estimated £10,000 that the coin is expected to fetch at auction.
He added: “I had only been there a short time. About five minutes after I started I found a hammered coin and then two minutes later I discovered this one.
"I knew it was scarce because it had King Offa’s name on it but I didn’t know how rare it was.”
Further research revealed that not only was the penny from the reign of Offa, who ruled the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia from 757 to 796, but it was made by the East Anglian moneyer Botred, whose coins for Offa are notably rare.
Only one other Offa penny by Botred is known to exist and that is in the collection of the British Museum and so will never be available to collectors.
The coin found by the detectorist is slightly bent but is in much better condition than the British Museum’s example.
Despite having been in a Hampshire field for well over 1,000 years, auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb describes its condition as “good, very fine”.
Head of the coin department at Dix Noonan Webb,Christopher Webb said:“This is a truly remarkable find.
“First of all the coin has survived for centuries in a field where it might easily have been destroyed by ploughing.
"Then this young man finds it within minutes of starting to use his metal detector in the field.
"Any bookmaker would offer very long odds against such an astonishing sequence of events.”