With COVID restrictions in place, a lot of people have been spending more time in their own backyards—and in Britain, that has led to some fascinating historical finds. A family weeding their garden in the New Forest area of Hampshire discovered a hoard of Tudor coins that were worth the equivalent of about $30 when they were hidden, far more that what the average annual wage was at the time, Sky News reports. The hoard of 63 gold coins and one silver coin, believed to have been buried in around 1540 and currently worth about $19,000, included coins from the reign of Henry VIII. In what British Museum coin expert tells the Guardian was a "very strange decision," the king separately added the initials of three of his wives— Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, and Jane Seymour—to the coins.
Ashmolean Museum expert John Naylor says the coins were probably buried by a wealthy merchant or clergy members worried that they would be seized amid Henry VIII's "Dissolution of the Monasteries." "We do know that some monasteries and some churches did try to hide their wealth hoping that they would be able to keep it in the long term," Naylor says, per the Daily Echo. The coins were submitted to the British Museum's "Portable Antiquities Scheme" for registering archeological finds. If finds are classed as treasure, museums are given the option of acquiring the object by paying a reward to be split between the finder and the landowner, reports the New York Times. The British Museum says more than 47,000 finds have been reported this year, many of them in backyards. (Read more United Kingdom stories.)