Posted By Posted On

Just what the doctor hoarded! Medic finds Civil War coins worth £51,000 buried in his garden… and hands them to a museum

As he explored his own back garden, a scrap of pottery protruding from the dirt caught Dr Owen Johnson’s eye.

When the hospital worker tried to dig it out, it cracked open – spilling out a stream of gold and silver coins ‘like a slot machine’.

Dr Johnson, 53, was inspecting a hole dug by builders at his home, in the village of High Ackworth, near Pontefract, West Yorkshire.

Token of love: The gold ring found among the hoard bears the romantic inscription ‘When you see this, remember me’

The haul of Civil War currency could be worth as much as £51,000 – but the doctor has had to hand it all in to the Government.

Just under 600 coins dating from around the 1640s were found, as well as a stunning gold ring bearing the romantic inscription ‘When this you see, remember me’.

Studies showed the find, with individual coins to the value of just over £85, was located near what looked like an old post, and could have been stashed underground by a Royalist who feared it would be looted by Roundhead troops.

Speaking outside Wakefield Coroner’s Court, where an treasure trove inquest ruled the find belongs to the state, Dr Johnson said he had taken the day off from Pinderfields Hospital when he made the amazing discovery last July.

Dr Johnson, who lives with wife Barbara, 55, and daughters Pippa, 22, Tembe, 21, and Lucy, 17, said: ‘At first I thought the coins were some sort of toy, then we started having a closer look at them. The gold ones looked like they had just come out of a museum, and the ring is beautiful.

‘It was then we started to realise this was something significant. It was very exciting and we just stood there for a long time looking at it.’

Council bosses in Wakefield are now hoping they can secure the historic hoard for display at Pontefract Museum.

Dr Johnson said: ‘Pontefract Museum is very interesting but it could do with some highlights and this would definitely be a highlight, which would be good because Pontefract’s history is sometimes undervalued.’

Digging it: Dr Johnson, 53, is pictured with his wife Barbara and daughter Pippa at the treasure inquest in Wakefield. He will now have to wait to find out whether he is entitled to compensation for his discovery

Lisa Dodd, Wakefield Council’s service director for sport and culture, added: ‘We believe these items have been in our district since the 1600s, making them a real part of this district’s rich history.

‘It would be a great shame to not do all we can to try and keep the treasure in its rightful home for future generations to enjoy.

‘The Wakefield district has a superb, nationally renowned heritage and Pontefract Museum would be a fitting home for the treasure.

‘It would be yet another major attraction for visitors and contribute directly to the rich history of the area. It would also support the new Pontefract Castle development.’

The council will now wait for a valuation, after which it will be decided whether Dr Johnson will get any compensation. The hoard is more than 300 years old and so is covered by the Treasure Act of 1996.