I was reading today of a Shropshire woman called Kate Harding, 23, from Ludlow who yesterday appeared in court and was convicted of failing to report Treasure. The lady concerned had found a 14th century piedfort 'coin' with her mother in a garden in Tenbury Wells years ago and had argued it was of great sentimental value. It was NOT found with a Metal Detector.
She only found out in January last year what it actually was when she visited Ludlow Museum with the artefact and spoke to expert Peter Reavill who identified it as a 14th century piedfort which is of historical significance. After establishing what it was Mr Reavill wrote to Harding and told her she must report the find to the coroner within 14 days under the 1996 Treasure Act. She failed to do so.
A similar coin was discovered in West Clandon, Surrey in 2007, and bought by the British Museum for £1,800. However in the circumstances she has now been forced to hand over the 'coin' under the instruction of the magistrates.She may now not receive any reward as the the Treasure Valuation Committee has the power to cut or cancel any payment for "wrongdoing".
This story did surprise me when I first read it. If you find just ONE silver coin more than 300 years old, which is not associated with other coins or treasure artefacts, you do NOT have to report it to anyone.....and you cannot be instructed to. So why did this case come to court. Firstly the 'coin' is being reported as a 'find'. The item in question is a piedfort. It is not strictly a 'coin'. 'They are unusual objects and their actual purpose has never been clearly established. In most cases, they are objects struck from the dies of a currency coin, but using a blank of unusual thickness and weight. However, the weights of surviving piedforts do not seem to relate to the weights of the currency coins'.(PA & Treasure Annual Report 2007)
Personally I would have liked to have seen the young lady hand over the item when she was advised of its importance. However I do think that if this case had gone in front of Crown Court rather than a magistrate, the decision may have been different. This would have then been upto the jury to decide as to whether the item was in fact a 'coin'.