A CORONER has congratulated a Cumbrian metal detectorist after uncovering the first coin hoard of its kind in the county, which could soon be on display in the British Museum.

Justin Bell, a maths teacher who indulges in his metal detecting hobby on a weekend, found the county's first hoard of coins from the reign of King Charles I, believed to have been minted between 1633 and 1643.

Mr Bell was one of three ‘finders’ who were out detecting together in pastureland around Lamplugh in Allerdale on March 7, 2020, when the group came across three half crowns and a shilling, with a contemporary face value of 102 pence – believed to be roughly an average monthly wage at the time.

For any hoard to be classed as ‘treasure’, it must go through the coronial process, to determine that the find is over 300 years old, contain more than ten per cent precious metal, and that the items are of sufficient quantity, being found in close proximity to each other.

Assistant Coroner for Cumbria Ms Margaret Taylor said: “I’m certainly happy to say that they are definitely treasure.

“I’m aware that the British Museum has expressed an interest in acquiring them.

“It would be very good for people to get to see them.”

The description read to the court said: “Significantly for Cumbria, it is the first coin hoard from Charles I in the county.

“Only 89 (single) coins from the reign of Charles I have been recorded in county.

“This coin hoard therefore represents a significant addition to an otherwise underrepresented period of history in Cumbria.”

The reign of Charles I was dominated by his disputes with parliament, culminating in the English Civil War and his execution and abolition of the monarchy in 1649.

Discussing the find with Ms Taylor, Mr Bell said: “A month’s wage in four coins isn't really spendable.

“You wouldn't expect someone to go and buy some coal for instance with a half crown.

“It could have been that someone had been trading and dropped a purse."

Mr Bell told how he had found five treasure hoards including Viking and Roman era hoards, all within ten minutes drive of each other.

Ms Taylor said: “Given its small population and the size of the county, it's incredible how much has been found in Cumbria.”