'Stealing our history': Essex metal detectorists sentenced for not declaring whole Iron Age coin hoard

Two-dozen iron age gold coins
The coins were found on land near Chelmsford Credit: Essex Police

A pair of metal detectorists who kept Iron Age coins worth thousands of pounds for themselves have been sentenced for not declaring the treasure.

Shane Wood, of West Hanningfield Road in Chelmsford, discovered the 2,000-year-old coins on a walk in Great Baddow in September 2020.

Over the course of the following days the 62-year-old illegally metal detected the area and recovered 933 coins.

At the end of the month Wood handed over the coins to the landowner, but he and his partner Kim Holman, of East Road in Chadwell Heath, kept 24 of them.

Police Constable Andrew Long, Essex Police's Rural and Heritage Crime Officer, described the offence as "stealing" from the nation's history.

He said: "This prosecution demonstrates that we take heritage crime seriously. This type of offence not only steals from the landowner, but also from the nation by stealing our history."

The landowner turned the coins he was given in to the authorities as required by law, but police realised some of the coins were missing when Wood gave an interview about the discovery to a magazine.

After searching his house officers found 23 coins worth up to £12,350.

A coin kept at 61-year-old Holman's house was valued at £300.

Both were summonsed to court and pleaded guilty to finding an object believed to be treasure and failing to notify the coroner. Wood also pleaded guilty to theft by finding.

His metal detector was ordered to be destroyed as part of the sentencing, alongside an 18-month community order and £200 fine; Holman was fined £299.

PC Long added: "We know most metal detectorists are law-abiding and we appreciate their support in prosecuting the tiny minority of criminals in the hobby.

"I would like to thank the hard work of our partners in The British Museum, the Crown Prosecution Service and Historic England for their help with this case."