GOLD coins which could date back more than 2,000 years have been found in a field in Harborough district.
The ten coins originate from the continent, in an area which is now in Belgium, and are believed to pre-date a hoard of more than 5,000 Roman and Iron Age coins found in Hallaton in 2000.
They were unearthed by 55-year-old Steve Bestwick, secretary of the Leicester Search Society metal detecting club.
The Gallo-Belgic Stater coins were officially declared treasure trove at an inquest at Leicester Town Hall on Monday and are at the British Museum being valued by experts.
Leicestershire County Council’s museum service is hoping to buy the coins – thought to date to 65 BC – so they can go on display like the Hallaton collection at Harborough Museum.
Mr Bestwick, of Wigston, told the Mail: “It’s the metal detector’s equivalent of winning the lottery. I found them over the course of ten days. They were quite widely spread, over about 20 to 30 metres. They are Gallo-Belgic Slater coins. The big question is how did they get to the middle of England before the Roman invasion?
“I think they have come from a single pouch. But was he a merchant? A thief? Did he set up camp here and bury them for safe keeping, then lose them. There are so many questions.”
If the museum service is able to buy the coins, the British Museum will then pay a reward to Mr Bestwick and the landowner.
Mr Bestwick said: “For me personally it’s not about the money. When I dug that first one out of the ground I was holding something in my hand that hadn’t been touched by man for 2,000 years. I ran one under the tap and it came up so shiny. You can’t beat that feeling.
“I have been detecting for about eight or nine years. It’s almost an obsession.
“Sometimes you only find a couple of musket balls. I’m usually happy enough with that.”
Mr Bestwick said he would be meeting with the Hallaton Field Work Group, which excavated the thousands of coins, a Roman silver helmet and other items discovered as part of the Hallaton hoard, to discuss his discovery.
The exact location of the find is being kept a secret to prevent damage being caused to the farmer’s land and what could prove an important archaeological site. However Mr Bestwick was happy to say they were discovered in a field between Bruntingthorpe and Leicester.
To view the coins online visit www.finds.org.uk/database and search for 114E78.