Rogue Metal Detectorists Stole $3.6 Million Treasure

Rogue Metal Detectorists Stole $3.6 Million Treasure



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Metal detectorists have made many amazing discoveries down the years in Britain, with a great hoard of 2,600 coins revealed just a couple of months ago. But there are strict rules regarding archaeological finds made by detectorists. At present, the British court system is dealing with four men who have been found guilty of conspiring to conceal and illegally sell a treasure that was found with metal detectors.

When Metal Detecting Becomes a Crime

At Worcester Crown Court four men were on trial, accused of stealing a treasure that is worth up to $3.6 million (£3 million). According to the Daily Telegraph , “George Powell, 38, and Layton Davies, 51,” were accused “of failing to declare a hoard of 1,000 year-old buried valuables they unearthed”. Both men have addresses in Wales.

The pair are experienced metal detectorists and they found the valuable hoard in a field near Leominster, Herefordshire. The field is part of the Eye Court Farm.

They did not tell the farmer who owned the land, or the local finds officer as is required by law. The two men were first arrested in relation to the case in 2015.

Under British law, any archaeological find must be reported “to the local coroner as possible treasure” reports the Daily Mirror . It is then appraised by specialists and they will determine if it is a national treasure and its value.

British museums have the right to make the first bids on the items. However, Powell and Davies did not do this, with the motive of trying to sell their find at a higher price on the black market. And Gareth Williams, a curator of early medieval coins at the British Museum, explained what a bad move that was:

“It’s not just a theft of the items. If we don’t recover everything it’s a theft of our history. The stupidity is that our treasure system is the most generous in the world in terms of providing rewards for those who abide by the law. These men would be rich by now if they had done things by the book. They have chosen not to and in doing so have destroyed an important part of our history. It’s difficult to feel any sympathy for them at all; they have been greedy and selfish and the nation is the loser.”

Metal detectorists are required by law to report any discoveries. (C/N N/G / CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Paul Wells, 60, and Simon Wicks, 57, were also charged with Powell and Davies with “conspiring to conceal the treasure,” reports the Daily Telegraph . Wells and Wicks did not find the treasure, but they are alleged to have helped the metal detectorists hide their find.

Powell, Davis, and Wicks are also charged with attempting to illegally sell the treasure. All of the accused denied the charges, but BBC News reports that Powell and Davies have been convicted of theft and the concealment of their find. Wicks and Wells were also convicted of concealing the discovery.

Metal Detectorists Hid and Sold the Treasure

Kevin Hegarty (QC) the prosecutor in the case, told the court that Powell and Davies. “knew when they found this material that this was no ordinary find” according to the Daily Mirror . He also told the court that the two, very experienced detectorists, “decided to treat the find as theirs and not to declare it to the landowner, the farmer, or the Crown. In short, they stole it.”

The prosecutor told the court that much of the treasure trove was buried in the ground for over 1,000 years. It had lain undisturbed since before the Norman invasion until the detectorists found it in the summer of 2015. It is alleged that some 300 coins, ingots, and some pieces of jewelry were unearthed, but only 30 coins have been recovered by the police.

Only 30 coins have been recovered by the police. (Fæ / CC BY-SA 2.0 )

This means that many historic coins and pieces of jewelry are missing and they may already have been sold on the black market . The 30 coins were seized from people who had bought the coins and from the defendants’ homes. It is alleged that Wicks “hid some within the handle of a magnifying glass” according to the Daily Mail .

The police were able to establish this because they found photographs on one of the men’s smartphones. In these, the two men are shown digging out a large number of coins and other pieces of treasure.

Furthermore, the accused allegedly bragged to an antique dealer that they had found a great many coins and also ignored his advice to report them to the authorities. The defendants denied that there was a larger hoard.

Medieval Treasure Trove

The original find “consisted of a gold ring, bracelet, and silver ingot from the 9th century, a crystal ball pendant from the 5th century,” reports the Daily Telegraph . The court was also told that many of the coins found in the field came from the reign of Alfred the Great . While others came from the time of King Ceolwulf , ruled the Kingdom of Wessex.

The treasure hoard included a crystal pendant that dates to around 600 AD. ( West Mercia Police )

Williams explained the significance of the coins:

“These coins enable us to re-interpret our history at a key moment in the creation of England as a single kingdom. What the coins show, beyond any possible doubt, is that there was actually an alliance between Alfred and Ceolwulf. And yet a few years later, Ceolwulf is dismissed by historians at Alfred's court. He's written out of history, but the coins show a different picture. This is a find of national importance from a key moment in the unification of England. It comes just at the moment when the Vikings were attacking in a large way.”

Of the 30 coins that were recovered by police, some are extremely rare and valuable. They include a penny-sized coin, known as a ‘Cross-and-Lozenge.’ One coin has an image of what looks like two heads and it is known as a ‘two emperors’ - these are much sought after by collectors. There was also a silver coin from what is now Iran and one showing the Frankish emperor Louis the Pious .

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A silver coin showing the Frankish emperor Louis the Pious was found by the metal detectorists. (World Imaging / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

The court was told that dealers from all over the world would have been interested in the coins discovered in the field. The whereabouts of the rest of the treasure are unknown and the alleged missing pieces may never be located. It’s expected that the men will face prison time. Judge Nicholas Cartwright has made mention of one of the men in particular, saying:

"I am not going to admit George Powell bail, he's going to be sentenced for theft of items worth millions of pounds and is facing a very long sentence of imprisonment and in addition to that there will inevitably be a confiscation process. There are hidden assets by way of unrecovered treasure worth a very large sum, probably millions of pounds, so there's the prospect of a very long default period of imprisonment should the assets remain hidden."

Most of the coin hoard that was discovered by metal detectorists is now missing. (Representative image) ( samiramay / Adobe Stock)


17 Biggest Metal Detector Finds In History (Life Changing Discoveries)

Metal detectorists are striking it rich and changing the course of history.

Their contribution to historical and archeology science have thrown experts off their rockers with confirmed and new theories about ancient peoples, wars, religions, and industry.

Landowner’s farmlands are turning into excavations sites, the seabed turns into a treasure hot spot, and some of the most unlikely places turn out to be old settlements and military forts with valuable relics just waiting to be plucked.

What we think we know isn’t always the case, and what we think we’re hearing a tone on turns out to be something very different.

These are some of the biggest finds a good ol’, trusty metal detector has found.


What is the significance of the hoard?

The recovered coins were issued by two separate, but neighbouring, kingdoms in the late 9th Century: Wessex and Mercia.

Wessex at the time was ruled by the famous Alfred the Great and Mercia by the lesser known Ceolwulf II, who "just disappears from history without a trace" when the hoard was buried around the year 879, Mr Williams said.

"What the coins show, beyond any possible doubt, is that there was actually an alliance between Alfred and Ceolwulf," Mr Williams continued, as they were sharing a coin design.

"And yet a few years later, Ceolwulf is dismissed by historians at Alfred's court. He's written out of history, but the coins show a different picture.

"This is a find of national importance from a key moment in the unification of England.

"It comes just at the moment when the Vikings were attacking in a large way."

Peter Reavill, the finds liaison officer for the British Museum in Shropshire and Herefordshire, said it was a concern hobbyists like Powell and Davies could prioritise personal financial gain over national interests.

"It will be so easy for really important objects just to slip through the net, mostly due to individuals' greed.

"Important information has been lost forever. That's our heritage, everyone's heritage, that's being lost in the hope of financial gain and I think that's terrible," Mr Williams added.

Who buried the hoard and why?

Although most of the hoard is Anglo Saxon, Mr Williams has no doubt it was gathered and buried by a Viking.

A Viking army is known to have been in the area at the time, he said, attacking the Wessex and Mercia kingdoms including the Battle of Edington, Wiltshire, in 878 against Alfred the Great, one year before the hoard is thought to have been buried.

"It was probably buried to preserve it from other Vikings as well as Anglo Saxons," Mr Williams said, "and for whatever reason the person who buried it wasn't able to go back and recover it".

Amanda Blakeman, West Mercia Police's Deputy Chief Constable, said the men were looking to "criminally profit from removing the historical footprint of our country".

"It's absolutely critical that we protect our heritage, our history, and we bring offenders to justice who are looking to profit from something that is owned by the community," she said.

Ms Blakeman has recently been appointed as the national leader for heritage and cultural crime and has established police and expert networks to help tackle these "complex and protracted" investigations in the future.

"We must recover that property and we must cut off those markets that are available to be able to disperse our history, not only across this country, but across the world," she said.

As the verdicts were read out, an ambulance was called for Wells who became unwell.

Court was adjourned until Friday for sentencing and the other defendants were remanded in custody.

Judge Nicholas Cartwright said: "I am not going to admit George Powell bail, he's going to be sentenced for theft of items worth millions of pounds and is facing a very long sentence of imprisonment and in addition to that there will inevitably be a confiscation process.

"There are hidden assets by way of unrecovered treasure worth a very large sum, probably millions of pounds, so there's the prospect of a very long default period of imprisonment should the assets remain hidden."


16 Most Famous Metal Detecting Find of All Time

Metal detecting is a lot of fun. You never know what you’re going to unearth. Occasionally, though, something spectacular happens. You’re trundling along with your detector, and all of a sudden, you discover something rare, valuable, and even comical.

Have you ever wondered what treasures lucky detectorists have found over the years? Good! Here we’ve compiled the best metal detecting finds of all time. You won’t believe how crazy it gets.

THE BIGGEST PILE OF GOLD COINS EVER FOUND IN ENGLAND

The British Isles has a long history. First home to stone-age tribes, then invaded by the Romans and later conquered by successive marauding armies from abroad, including the Normans, Vikings, and Anglo-Saxons, it's a playground for detectorists. The country has long been a prime site for unearthing archaeological relics, historical artifacts, and, of course, treasures.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that lucky metal detectorist Terry Herbert stumbled upon more than 500 coins dating from the 7th century while out detecting one day.

He was so overwhelmed by the hoard that he contacted some local archaeologists who uncovered a further 800 coins. They also revealed what looked like the spoils of war, including gold-encrusted vessels and jewelry.

After the find, Herbert reported seeing gold coins in his sleep. Not surprising: it was one of the biggest and most valuable hauls in history.

THE LARGEST GOLD NUGGET EVER FOUND

Gold nuggets are usually tiny little things that you have to pan for in rivers. You pick up a pile of sediment and then sieve it, hoping to reveal tiny golden specs of the precious metal.

You can understand, then, why Ty Paulson nearly had a heart attack when it found what’s since been dubbed the "Mojave Nugget." The lump of gold weighs more than 146 ounces (or about 5 kg), making it one of the largest nugget ever found in the United States.

It’s incredible nobody unearthed in it the 19th-century gold rush. It’s also amazing that none of the big mining companies found it since then. No: the find fell to a simple metal detectorist in 1977.

A GIANT LUMP OF SPACE ROCK

Finding a “space rock” on Earth is a rarity, especially one that’s landed relatively recently. The reason for this is that the solar system is old. Most of the planets orbiting the sun vacuumed up the smaller objects eons ago, meaning that few remain.

What’s more, most meteorites burn up while traveling through the atmosphere at thousands of miles per hour. There's usually nothing left by the time they finally hit the ground.

So you can imagine the surprise when Jason Lyons, a 13-year-old metal detectorist, happened up a 2 lb lump of space rock while out prospecting with his dad in New Mexico. Experts believe that the meteorite had been lying in the New Mexico desert for around 10,000 years. It was made of a combination of nickel and iron, two of the most abundant elements found in space rock.

THE RINGLEMERE CUP

In the ancient world, people stored their wealth in gold. After all, there was no stock market and no bank accounts: just gold forges and donkeys to carry the treasure around. It stands to reason, therefore, that there are still a large number of treasures from this era, buried in the ground.

Enter Cliff Bradshaw, another English metal detectorist. Bradshaw had become interested in an old wheat field after making several valuable finds. He reasoned that there was probably more to unearth, so he began sweeping it every day.

Eventually, his detector came across an object buried deep beneath the ground. The cup, made between 1700 and 1500 BC, was a significant find. Not only was it incredibly valuable, worth more than $520,000, but it was also historical evidence that people in the area were advanced metalworkers.

While the cup was, unfortunately, crushed by the weight of the soil above it, the ribbed pattern showed that metal-making techniques were already sophisticated by the time of the Bronze Age.

You can now see the chalice on display at the British Museum in London.

THE CROSBY GARRETT HELMET

The Crosby Garrett Helmet is yet another find made in an English field.

The Roman helmet, which is more than 1,800 years old, was found in pieces and then painstakingly put back together by experts for more than 200 hours.

The result is a helmet like no other. The rear of the object is like practically every other helmet that you might see from antiquity. The front, however, is a depiction of a face complete with a mouth, nose, and eye holes.

Experts initially valued the piece at $300,000, but it proved so popular at auction that it went for more than $3.6 million.

A TROVE OF VIKING TREASURE IN NORTH YORKSHIRE

We keep coming back to England, don’t we? This time we’re heading to North Yorkshire, a part of the world that the Vikings were particularly fond of raiding.

Back in 2007, father and son team, Andrew and David Whelan, were searching for treasure near the North York Moors.

The pair were scanning a field (yes, yet another British field) when they came across a single coin. The pair examined it and soon realized that it was Viking and more than 1,000 years old.

Instead of leaving it at that, they kept on digging and eventually found another coin, and then another. By the time they’d finished, they had unearthed one of the biggest hauls in history, estimated to be worth just over $1 million (£750,000).

The treasure trove comprised several Viking artifacts, including gold and silver coins, chalices, jewelry, brooches, and much, much more. In total, there are more than 617 coins.

The father and son team took one-half of the spoils while the farmer took the other. The treasure is now on display in the British Museum.

THE SHAPWICK HOARD

Twenty years ago, treasure hunter Martin Elliot was trying to teach his cousin the wonders of metal detecting. Little did he know he was about to uncover one of the largest treasures in history.

The pair were standing in a field near Shapwick in Somerset in the UK when they stopped, having detected metal some 10 centimeters below the ground. They started digging and found a Roman coin, then another, and then another.

Before long, they came across one of the most massive hoards from antiquity of all time containing more than 9,000 silver denarii coins dating from the first century BC to the third AD.

The coins eventually became known as the Shapwick hoard after the name of the nearby town. The coins were initially valued at more than £250,000 ($350,000) in 1998, and are probably worth double that at today’s prices.

THE MILTON KEYNES HOARD

For those of you who don’t know, Milton Keynes is something of a bland business town located about seventy miles northwest of London. For the most part, it’s just rows of industrial and commercial buildings on a grid-iron street plan. But in the metal detecting world, the city is a superstar.

The so-called "Milton Keynes hoard" named after the town was found by amateur treasure hunters Gordon Heritage and Michael Rutland in 2000. It comprised assorted gold artifacts from the Bronze Age, including three bracelets, two torcs, and fragments of a bronze rod.

While the physical size of the hoard was small, the archaeological significance was profound. Ultimately the British Museum wound up paying £290,000 for the find, which equates to around £479,000 ($581,000) today.

THE NEWARK TORC

The Newark Torc is perhaps one of the most impressive single treasure finds in history. Maurice Richardson, a tree surgeon from Lincolnshire, was casually walking along with his metal detector in a field outside the town of Newark back in 2005 when he heard it beeping.

As he began to dig, he soon realized that this was no ordinary find. There, buried in the ground, was a large, impressive gold torc - a unique piece of jewelry designed to be worn around the neck, like a bracelet.

The giant Iron Age torc was remarkable. Being made of a solid gold alloy, it was in near perfect condition.

Richardson took the torc to Newark Museum, who agreed to buy it in 2006 for the princely sum of £260,000 or $620,000 in today’s terms. Payment for the stash was shared between Cambridge University, who owned the land and Richardson himself.

THE WINCHESTER HOARD

Hopefully, by now, it should be becoming clear that England is the treasure capital of the world. The Winchester Hoard is yet another incredible metal detector find, named after the city of Winchester, in the southern country of Hampshire.

Retired florist Kevan Halls discovered the Winchester Hoard around Christmas time in 2000. Halls was scanning an area of freshly plowed field when his detector began to beep. Suspecting that he was onto something, Halls began digging and, to his amazement, unearthed gold.

The gold, however, wasn’t any ordinary lumps of the metal: it had been fashioned most remarkably. There were gold clips, earrings, and bracelets. Also, there were intricate figurines of what looked like mythical creatures - a remarkable insight into Iron Age life and beliefs.

Who eventually bought the Winchester Hoard? You guessed it: the British Museum. And they paid a lot for it: £560,000 or $689,000 in today’s money. Wouldn’t you like to be the person who’d discovered that treasure?

THE STIRLING TORCS

The Stirling Torcs is an excellent example of beginner’s luck and why everyone should give metal detecting a try.

Scot David Booth was out on his first detectorist mission in later summer 2009 in a Scottish field when he suddenly came across several buried gold torcs from the Iron Age. Some people are just lucky!

Booth took the torcs for valuation and discovered that they were worth a fortune. The hoard eventually earned him more than £462,000 at the time, or around £608,000 ($737,700) in today’s terms.

THE BOOT OF CORTEZ

You would have thought that all of the largest gold nuggets ever found would have been dug up by lucky prospectors and gold mining companies decades ago, but that’s not the case.

In 1989, a treasure hunter from Senora in Mexico went to his local radio shack to buy a metal detector. While the sensor was crude compared to today’s equipment, he soon found that he was unearthing all kinds of exciting metal pieces, including bullets and old coins.

Before long, though, around 70 miles south of the Arizona border with Mexico, he stumbled upon one of the most important and valuable gold nuggets ever found.

The nugget weighed more than 289 troy ounces, making it the largest single lump of gold ever found in the western hemisphere at that time. What’s more, it had an unmistakable shape, similar to that worn by the Spanish Conquistadors who had invaded the area centuries ago. It was thus named the Boot of Cortez.

To put into perspective just how big the Boot of Cortez is, the largest gold nugget ever found in the western hemisphere up to that point was one in Alaska, and it came in at over 100 troy ounces less.

How much do you think the Boot of Cortez eventually sold for at auction? $1,553,000. Pretty good for an afternoon’s work, don’t you think?

A FINGERBONE WITH RING STILL ATTACHED

If you’re somebody who gets squeamish, you might want to skip this one.

A volunteer archeologist was scanning an area near Little Bighorn when she came across a finger bone with a ring still attached. The bone was from 1876 when Sioux troops killed trooped under the command of General Custer. While the haul wasn’t anywhere near as valuable to some of the other finds on this list, it was undoubtedly unique.

AN AXE HEAD FROM THE BRONZE AGE

The reason for their rarity is that people in the bronze age didn’t generally know how to make hard metals. Axe heads were too soft for the job that they needed to do. Some rare smiths, however, found ways of hardening metals (which they mostly didn’t understand), allowing some to smelt ax heads that people could actually use productively.

Steve Hickling, a metal detectorist from northwest England, found one of these ax heads near the village of Huyton. The head is believed to date from 1850 to 1750 BC, over 1500 years before the Romans. Furthermore, it was one of the more unusual examples of such an ax, thanks to the intricate patterns and details on the metal itself.

Whoever smelted it wasn’t content with making something functional: they also wanted something beautiful too. Perhaps the ax head was ceremonial, who knows?

If you want to see this beautiful Bronze Age artifact, you’ll want to visit the Fir Tree Farm Shop in King’s Moss between Liverpool and Wigan.

A 1913 FORD MODEL T

One of the great things about metal detecting is that you never quite know what you’re going to find next: an ancient chalice, gold nugget, or, in this case, an entire car buried underground.

In 2008, a group of friends were messing around with metal detectors near Detroit, Michigan - the automobile capital of the world. As they were scanning a field outside of the city, they suddenly heard beeping: their metal detectors had found something.

The group began digging and soon realized that this was no ordinary discovery. What they’d unearthed was nothing less than the skeleton of a 1913 Model T.

ford model t metal detector.jpg
But why was it buried? This is where the story gets even weirder.

The detectorists later found out that the original owner of the car had decided to bury it in his backyard for posterity. It was a kind of time capsule but in car form. We can only wonder how much time he imagined might pass before somebody dug it up. But, luckily, the detectorists found it when they did: another hundred years in the ground, and it might have been unrecognizable.

AN 18-CARAT GOLD CROSS

Back to England again, and this time to the central southern county of Northamptonshire.

In 2008, a man who refused to be named found what is believed to be a 7th century Anglo Saxon cross while scanning a field on a farm. Historians and archaeologists believe that the cross, made of pure gold, is the product of combining two Merovingian crosses from an earlier ear. The cross has numerous finely carved details all over its surface and is studded with rare ruby gemstones.

The detectorist reported how shocked he was to make the discovery, describing the “quiet land” around the object, in reference to how little noise his metal detector usually makes in the area. The cross was buried more than 12 inches below the soil and was utterly unexpected.


Permits and laws when prospecting for gold in Texas

Most of the land in the state of Texas is privately owned, which means you will need to get permission from the landowner before prospecting. It’s important to understand that a person leasing a property will not be able to give you permission unless they are also leasing the mineral rights.

If you do manage to obtain permission to prospect on private land, you won’t need any permits from the authorities. However, there are still several federal and state laws that apply for mining. Most of these laws are targeted at large scale operations and designed to protect the environment.

If you intend to prospect for gold on State-owned land, you must obtain permission from the Texas General Land Office (GLO). If you go to the Texas General Land Office web site you can learn which areas are already permitted and which areas may be allowed to obtain a permit.

You are allowed to use dredges in public waterways in Texas, but the nozzle size must be less than 5 inches. All prospecting must be performed at least 100 ft away from bridges and it is illegal to prospect under banks of waterways or under trees. Collecting of any sort is prohibited in all National Parks and Texas State Parks.


RELATED ARTICLES

The bust depicts emperor Marcus Aurelius - whose death is said to have marked the beginning of the end for the Western Roman Empire

'We think they were buried as a ritual deposit, as part of a Roman religious process and an offering to the gods.

'I know the finders and they are excited about the sale.'

The Aurelius bust would have been attached to the end of a sceptre – an ornate wand or staff – that probably belonged to a senior military commander about 1,900 years ago.

As well as the bust, the toy-like god of Mars on horseback and the decorative horse-shaped knife handle was a plumb-bob.

A plumb-bob is a pointed weight, usually suspended on a string, used to mark out what is exactly vertical.

It would have been used by the Romans in construction to make sure stone and marble slabs were vertically aligned – much like today's spirit levels.

Going clockwise from top right is the bust of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, the plumb-bob, the decorative horse-shaped knife handle and the god Mars on horseback

The plumb bob - a pointed weight which is suspended from string to show what is exactly vertical - that is part of the North Yorkshire hoard

It was initially thought the four objects – found over a 10-square-foot (one square metre) area in the Ryedale field – might be worth about £15,000 in total.

But Hansons has received worldwide interest due to their rarity and their remarkable condition.

The auction house will exhibit the collection before the sale in London on April 29 and in York on May 11. Anyone interested in viewing will have to contact them through phone or email.

Staples told MailOnline it will be publishing an official announcement in the next few days.

The artefacts have been authenticated by the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), which records finds made by metal detectorists.

The two finders of this hoard – Spark and Didlick – will have to split the proceeds of the sale with the anonymous landowner.

Spark, 40, from York, previously described the moment he and Didlick found the hoard.

'We were having a pretty slow day when, as we were just about to pack up, I came across a strong signal,' he said.

'The first item recovered was the horseman which I thought was Victorian at first. The second item then popped up and it was the bust – this was a game changer!

James Spark (left) and Mark Didlick uncovered the bust of emperor Marcus Aurelius, a statuette of the god of Mars on horseback and a horse-head knife handle last year

'We knew straight away that we had stumbled upon something very rare and unique.

'We ran the detector over the hole again and were shocked to find that we had another target in the hole and this turned out to be the plumb bob weight.

'Mark returned the following day and unearthed the fourth item which was the galloping horse that would have been a knife terminal.

'There are some known Roman link roads in the area so they may have some link to that.

'We are really pleased to find the items and add to the local history of the area and proud to find such an important historical artefact.'

The historical bust of Aurelius, which is the largest of the collection, is likely to stimulate the most interest.

Statue of Marcus Aurelius on horseback at Capitoline Hill, Rome, Italy. Aurelius ruled the Roman Empire from AD 161 until his death in AD 180

The death of Aurelius is said to have marked the beginning of the end for the Western Roman Empire.

His son, Commodus, later ruled the Empire between 176 and 192, when he was assassinated by strangulation in his own bath.

Commodus was known for his interest in chariot racing and bloodsports and a preoccupation with his own appearance than being an efficient ruler.

THE INSANITY OF COMMODUS

Statue of the ancient Roman emperor Commodus as Hercules in the Capitoline Museum, Italy. The ruler of the empire was more interested in his blonde curls than doing a good job of ruling the empire

Commodus was Roman emperor from AD 177 to AD 192.

He was born in AD 161, the son of the popular and highly respected emperor Marcus Aurelius and his wife Faustina the Younger.

Commodus became co-ruler with his father in AD 177, when he was only 15 years old.

During his final illness, his father, Marcus Aurelius became worried that his youthful and pleasure-seeking son might ignore public affairs and descend into debauchery once he became sole ruler.

He was right - soon after his father died in AD 180, Commodus discontinued his father’s war against the Germanic tribes on the Empire’s northern borders, instead coming to terms with them.

Commodus returned Rome to indulge in the pleasures of the great city, including chariot racing and bloodsports.

He is said to have insulted senators, given them positions below their dignity, given the rule of the provinces over to his favourites, and on a personal level to have engaged in scandalous behaviour.

He avoided the running of the empire on a day-to-day basis and instead delegated this to a string of favourites whom he made his chief ministers.

The emperor was concerned with pleasure and displaying his own physical prowess by fighting as a gladiator in the arena or against wild animals during lavish and expensive public games he organised.

He gave Rome a new name, Colonia Commodiana (Colony of Commodus), and imagined that he was the god Hercules, entering the arena to fight as a gladiator or to kill lions with bow and arrow.

His brutal misrule precipitated civil strife that ended 84 years of stability and prosperity within the empire.

On December 31, 192, his advisers had him strangled by Narcissus, a wrestler who was tasked with the deed by a small group of conspirators.


What is the significance of the hoard?

The recovered coins were issued by two separate, but neighbouring, kingdoms in the late 9th Century: Wessex and Mercia.

Wessex at the time was ruled by the famous Alfred the Great and Mercia by the lesser known Ceolwulf II, who "just disappears from history without a trace" when the hoard was buried around the year 879, Mr Williams said.

"What the coins show, beyond any possible doubt, is that there was actually an alliance between Alfred and Ceolwulf," Mr Williams continued, as they were sharing a coin design.

"And yet a few years later, Ceolwulf is dismissed by historians at Alfred's court. He's written out of history, but the coins show a different picture.

"This is a find of national importance from a key moment in the unification of England.

"It comes just at the moment when the Vikings were attacking in a large way."

Peter Reavill, the finds liaison officer for the British Museum in Shropshire and Herefordshire, said it was a concern hobbyists like Powell and Davies could prioritise personal financial gain over national interests.

"It will be so easy for really important objects just to slip through the net, mostly due to individuals' greed.

"Important information has been lost forever. That's our heritage, everyone's heritage, that's being lost in the hope of financial gain and I think that's terrible," Mr Williams added.

Who buried the hoard and why?

Although most of the hoard is Anglo Saxon, Mr Williams has no doubt it was gathered and buried by a Viking.

A Viking army is known to have been in the area at the time, he said, attacking the Wessex and Mercia kingdoms including the Battle of Edington, Wiltshire, in 878 against Alfred the Great, one year before the hoard is thought to have been buried.

"It was probably buried to preserve it from other Vikings as well as Anglo Saxons," Mr Williams said, "and for whatever reason the person who buried it wasn't able to go back and recover it".

Amanda Blakeman, West Mercia Police's Deputy Chief Constable, said the men were looking to "criminally profit from removing the historical footprint of our country".

"It's absolutely critical that we protect our heritage, our history, and we bring offenders to justice who are looking to profit from something that is owned by the community," she said.

Ms Blakeman has recently been appointed as the national leader for heritage and cultural crime and has established police and expert networks to help tackle these "complex and protracted" investigations in the future.

"We must recover that property and we must cut off those markets that are available to be able to disperse our history, not only across this country, but across the world," she said.

As the verdicts were read out, an ambulance was called for Wells who became unwell.

Court was adjourned until Friday for sentencing and the other defendants were remanded in custody.

Judge Nicholas Cartwright said: "I am not going to admit George Powell bail, he's going to be sentenced for theft of items worth millions of pounds and is facing a very long sentence of imprisonment and in addition to that there will inevitably be a confiscation process.

"There are hidden assets by way of unrecovered treasure worth a very large sum, probably millions of pounds, so there's the prospect of a very long default period of imprisonment should the assets remain hidden."


Richard Brody of The New Yorker observed that for 2017, "the most important event in the world of movies was the revelation, in The New York Times and The New Yorker, of sexual abuse by Harvey Weinstein, and the resulting liberation of the long-stifled voices of the people who had been abused by him or other powerful figures in the movie business, and, for that matter, in other arts and industries, too." He emphasizes that in effect, "[w]hat's missing from the year-end list, and from the era in movies, isn't only the unmade work by these filmmakers but the artistry and the careers of cast and crew members who would have been in their unrealized films." [1]

The top films released in 2017 by worldwide gross are as follows: [2]

Highest-grossing films of 2017
Rank Title Distributor Worldwide gross
1 Star Wars: The Last Jedi Disney $1,332,539,889
2 Beauty and the Beast $1,263,521,126
3 The Fate of the Furious Universal $1,236,005,118
4 Despicable Me 3 $1,034,799,409
5 Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Sony Pictures $962,077,546
6 Spider-Man: Homecoming $880,166,924
7 Wolf Warrior 2 United Entertainment $870,325,439
8 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Disney $863,756,051
9 Thor: Ragnarok $853,983,911
10 Wonder Woman Warner Bros. $822,303,505

Wolf Warrior 2, a Chinese film, became the first non-Hollywood film to be listed on the all-time worldwide top 100 box office. [3]

Split, by M. Night Shyamalan, was the year's most profitable film in terms of return on investment (ROI), having generated over 2,000% ROI. It is the 11th film to cross 2,000% ROI, and the first film to do so since 2015. [4]


Metal detectorists convicted of stealing £3million Viking hoard of coins and jewellery

A coin which was part of a £3 million Viking hoard Credit: PA

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T wo metal detectorists have been convicted of stealing a £3 million Viking hoard of coins and jewellery - much of which is still missing.

George Powell, 38, and Layton Davies, 51, failed to declare an "invaluable" collection of buried treasure dating back 1,100 years to the reign of King Alfred the Great.

Prosecutors said the items, many of which were Anglo Saxon but are typical of a Viking burial hoard, were dug up on Herefordshire farmland on June 2, 2015.

Among the priceless hoard was a ninth century gold ring, a dragon's head bracelet, a silver ingot, a crystal rock pendant dating to the fifth century and up to 300 coins, some dating to the reign of King Alfred.

Only 31 of the coins have been recovered, although mobile phone photographs - later deleted, but recovered by police - showed the larger hoard, still intact, in a freshly dug hole.

Powell and Davies were also convicted alongside two other men, 60-year-old Paul Wells and Simon Wicks, 57, with conspiring to conceal the find.

Davies, who chose to give evidence in his defence, claimed the pair dug the jewellery out of two separate holes but photographs taken on his phone and later deleted clearly showed the trove as one.

H e also alleged Powell had then planted some coins, which he already owned, in the hole for "staged" photographs, to give the items greater provenance and value.

One of the images appeared to show many more silver ingots than the one recovered by police but the men claimed these were simply bullet casings.

Both men also claimed talk of a 300-coin hoard had been a rumour, insisting that the only coins they found were declared to the National Museum Wales, in Cardiff, at a meeting on July 8.

However, they were undone by evidence including deleted photos of a much larger hoard on Davies's phone and the recovery of various coins, including five concealed in a magnifying glass case and volunteered to police by Wells.

Wicks, Powell and Davies were also found guilty of converting their ill-gotten gains into cash, after police traced several coins that had been sold on to private collectors, hidden away or left with expert valuers.

All four men were convicted of ignoring the law stating such finds must be properly declared, in a bid to sell the items in small batches.

Five of the coins are examples of the exceptionally rare Two Emperors penny, valued at up to £50,000 apiece, and so-called as they depict King Alfred and a lesser known monarch, Ceolwulf II, who reigned in the old kingdom of Mercia, sitting together.

E xpert analysis of all the jewellery and coinage recovered to date and now held at the British Museum returned a valuation of at least £581,000.

As to the fate of the rest of the coins and items in the hoard, prosecuting barrister Kevin Hegarty QC told jurors: "They have not been found.

"They must be concealed in one or more places or by now having been concealed have been dispersed never to be reassembled as a hoard of such coinage again."

Powell, of Kirby Lane, Newport Davies, of Cardiff Road, Pontypridd Wells, of Newport Road, Cardiff, and Wicks, of Hawks Road, Hailsham, East Sussex, will be sentenced at a later date.


They find Viking coins worth millions using metal detectors, but their discovery leads to prison

These two Viking coins are from a find valued at $3 million. Four men are guilty of failing to report the discovery. British Museum via Associated Press/British Museum via AP

Finders are not always keepers, as metal detectorists and coin dealers in Britain have learned.

Four men face years of incarceration for failing to report Viking treasure worth an estimated $3 million.

Police say the find has national importance for Anglo-Saxon coinage and for a greater understanding of a critical time in British history. Some of the recovered coins are helping scholars rewrite history, according to police.

Thirty-eight-year-old George Powell, 51-year-old Layton Davies, 57-year-old Simon Wicks, and 60-year-old Paul Wells were all found guilty by the Worcester Crown Court of theft, conspiracy to conceal criminal property, and conspiracy to convert criminal property, according to West Mercia Police.

Investigators were tipped off to the men’s findings by the metal detecting community in June 2015, according to police.

Powell and Davies had made their discovery in Herefordshire, an agrarian county in the West Midlands of England that is best known for its beef cattle and cider production.

When the men found the treasure, they didn’t notify the farmer who owned the field or the authorities, BBC reported. Instead, they contacted antiquities dealers and the National Museum Wales, to which they only declared one coin each and three pieces of jewelry. Only 31 of 300 coins reportedly in the treasure trove have been recovered, according to the British broadcaster.

After sifting through the treasure, experts found that the men had also uncovered a pendant made from a sphere of rock crystal and bound with gold, a gold ring, a gold arm band and silver bars and coins, according to police. The coins were typical of Viking use in the 9th and 10th centuries in Britain.

Authorities say there are outstanding coins from the loot, and they are urging other metal detectorists and coin dealers to contact them if they’ve seen or heard about the Viking coins.

An ancient Viking might have hidden the riches to protect them, according to Gareth Williams, curator of medieval coins and Viking collections for the British Museum, in an interview with CNN.

Not reporting found valuable items is a crime under British law.

Under the Treasure Act of 1996, finders are required to report their treasures to the local coroner’s office within 14 days of their discovery. The coroner would then consult museum authorities to ascertain the items’ value. If the objects are deemed to be treasure, the secretary of state would then determine whether a reward should be paid to the finder, which would be whoever occupied the land at the time of the discovery or any person who had interest in the land at the time of a finding, according to the law. Discoverers can be paid up to the treasure’s market value.

The British government has paid a metal detectorist before.

In 2001, a man named Cliff Bradshaw literally struck gold while out on a metal detection excursion on a farm in a village of Kent. He uncovered one of the earliest treasures found in England: the Ringlemere Cup. The Bronze Age item, now housed at the British Museum, paid more than $500,000, an amount split between Bradshaw and the farm’s landowner, according to the BBC.

In 2014, metal detector enthusiast Derek McLennan uncovered hundreds of silver and gold 9th- and 10th-century Viking pieces on Church of Scotland land that was worth more than $2.5 million, the Sunday Post reported.

While the law applies across Britain, Scotland allows finders to keep all of their rewards without splitting them with the property owner, so McLennan was planning on keeping his riches to himself — backpedaling on an alleged agreement he made with the Church of Scotland to split the money, the paper reported.

The church launched a lawsuit in September to get its half.

Metal detecting as a hobby has seen a resurgence in popularity since the British Museum revealed a record number of treasure finds in 2016, the Guardian reported.

Britain has the most generous system in the world for rewarding finders, said Williams, the British Museum curator, in a quote given to police.

Judge Nicholas Cartwright told the four convicted men on Thursday they had cheated the public and that the ‘‘irony in this case’’ was they could’ve reaped up to half the value of their found goods among themselves if they had followed the law, the BBC reported.

‘‘The treasure belongs to the nation,’’ he told them.

Powell will serve 10 years in prison, Davies will do 8½ years, and Wicks will spend five years behind bars for failing to report Viking treasure. Wells will receive his sentence Dec. 23, according to police.

The local commander of Herefordshire police, Superintendent Sue Thomas, said she hopes what happened to the guilty men will serve as a warning to the metal detecting community about reporting their discoveries.

‘‘I hope this demonstrates how seriously we take this sort of crime in Herefordshire and it is a criminal offense to not declare finds of treasure to the local coroner’s office,’’ Thomas said in a statement.


Watch the video: FOUND TREASURE CHEST WHİLE METAL DETECTİNG. TREASURE HUNT