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Treasure Hunters Find a Trove of Ancient Coins After 30 Years of Searching -- But Will They be Able to Keep the Stash?

Treasure Hunters Find a Trove of Ancient Coins After 30 Years of Searching -- But Will They be Able to Keep the Stash?

"When she described them we knew they were Iron Age."

Two treasure hunters searching for three decades found a stash of ancient Roman and Celtic coins in a farmer's field that could be worth up to $15 million -- but will they be able to keep it?

Tipped off by a woman recalling her father finding coins while plowing his field in Jersey, an island off the coast of Normandy, France, Reg Mead and Richard Miles set out with a metal detector and the permission of the landowner, who said they could only treasure hunt after harvesting time. According to BBC, the pair searched for up to 15 hours per day for 30 years, because they could only hunt during the small window of time after harvest. But their diligence paid off.

Here's more from BBC on the discovery:

He said: "She told me that in the bottom was an earthenware pot and it shattered all over the field on a very muddy winter's day and there were silver coins everywhere.

"They filled a small potato sack up and the rest of the stuff they just ploughed into the ground.

"When she described them we knew they were Iron Age. I told Richard and we have been searching hard all that time but have only just got to that spot."

Mr Miles said that the first few coins they found confirmed the story they had been searching for for so long.

He said: "We then looked deeper into the ground to see if there was anything further. We came down on a solid object and when Reg dug up a chunk of earth there was immediately five or six discs.

The Daily Telegraph has footage of the two men describing their finding:

It is estimated the collection of coins from the time of Julius Caesar could number up to 50,000. BBC reports that the two are declaring their finding a "treasure trove," which may in modern times just sound like a term used to describe a large hoard of valuables, but it has some legal meaning in this case. Mead described two laws that could apply to the finding -- one a modern English law, the other an old French law. The French law would give the finders the stash outright. The English law, Business Insider explains, gave museums the right to reclaim valuable artifacts found by treasure hunters for the full market value of the "trove."

Business Insider explains that the independent government of Jersey may not be recognizing either law, saying they are not governed by them.

"We are testing that case because the powers that be have said the practice of trove doesn't exist in Jersey any more," Mead said to BBC. Mead said if the trove law is not recognized, then they should revert to the old French law of finders keepers.

As for the farmer whose property the valuable coins were found upon, he has an agreement with the two men who located it.

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