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Metal detector strikes gold for Hampshire pensioner
4:39pm Wednesday 20th February 2013 in Winchester
METAL detectorist Jeff Cocker had only been pursuing his hobby for a year when he struck gold - literally.
The 68-year-old was scouring farmland in Upham, Hampshire, when he chanced upon the first of five gold coins dating back to the first century B.C.
Mr Cocker was with the Southern Detectorists when he found the treasure.
“It's amazing. I've only been doing it two years and I found it a year ago, so it's quite an amazing find,” he said.
The detectorists had the consent of the land owner and Mr Cocker said he immediately went to the farmer.
“First I showed the farmer and his wife and they were just thrilled to hold it. I thought it was Saxon at first, but then we posted pictures of it on a forum and someone said 'No, it's much older than that. It's Iron Age.'”
Since Portsmouth-based Mr Cocker had discovered just a single coin at that point, his find did not come under the terms of the Treasure Act 1996, and so he was not obliged to report the find to the coroner.
However, a coroner's court in Winchester heard on Wednesday (February 20), that after the initial discovery in December 2011, he and other members of his group returned to Upham in January 2012 - uncovering a further four Iron Age gold coins, and another silver, more recent coin.
The coins were sent for evaluation at the British Museum and Coroner for Central Hampshire Grahame Short said was satisfied that the find constituted a treasure hoard.
The Southern Detectorists must wait to see if any museums want to purchase the coins, with Winchester Museum said to be interested.
Speaking after the inquest, Mr Cocker said: “People spend 20 years and never find one coin!”