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Gold rush in Folkestone as dozens of nuggets worth thousands buried on Outer Harbour beach near Sunny Sands as part of Triennial

By Sam Lennon

At least one gold bar has been found tonight as prospectors from across the south east dug into the night searching for just under £10,000 of buried treasure.

The bar was found by a couple at about 7pm, the second definite find since the excavations began on Thursday afternoon.

Three other bars have reportedly been discovered but this is unconfirmed.

This bar was found on Friday night

This evening saw some hi-tech hardware deployed with metal detecting enthusiasts using pinpoint probes stuck in the sand to help them locate the gold.

Digging has continued into the night

The search on a Folkestone beach - part of a madcap art project - is in its second day... with one confirmed find revealed by a local family, who so far wish to remain anonymous.

Rachel Kinchin, communications manager for Situations UK, which is curating the project, said the gold will stay in the beach until it is found.

"It's part of the fairy tale, perhaps people will talk about the gold in Folkestone beach in years to come.

"But we do hope people find it"

About 200 people visited the beach tonight, and it's not just locals.

People digging for gold on the beach when the project was announced. Picture: Paul Amos

Prospectors from around the region were arriving by train - complete with spades - and digging continued by torchlight until 10pm when the tide finally covered the beach.

The small gold bars - similar to a dog tag - come in two sizes, worth around £250 and £500.

Gold bars the size of dog tags have been buried under a Folkestone beach

Five pieces of buried treasure are now believed to have been found, with 25 potentially left to be discovered.

Techniques differed with some panning for gold in the sand. Picture: Situations UK
Is this the moment gold is found in Folkestone? Well... er, no! Picture: Situations UK

Clare Doherty, also of the Situations art group that organised the search, said: "We know for definite that one family a found rectangular bar of gold, the size of a dog tag, at about 7pm on Thursday although we don't know the exact value of that particular piece.

"We knew that something would be found soon because the ingots are not buried very deep and hundreds of people were looking for them on Thursday.

Digging for gold is a serious business for these prospecters... Picture: Situations UK

"There have been claims of three other finds on Facebook but we don't know yet if those claims are correct.

"We don't know if even more have been found because people could simply put them in their pockets and quietly leave."

Treasure hunters on the beach. Picture: Situations UK

Alexandra Todd, 32, of Ingles Road, Folkestone was one of those digging in the sand on Thursday.

She said: "It's a bit of fun. If I found some gold I'd keep it as a piece of art rather than take the money."

There's gold in that there beach - many people spent hours digging during the Triennial. Picture: Paul Amos

Sian Duncombe, of Morrison Road, Folkestone, went down to the beach with her son Jai, six.

She said: "My mum rang me after she saw it on Facebook. My son said: 'come on mum, let's go down and start digging.

"It's all a bit strange. I'm not sure it's true but it's a good way to get to know people. I've talked to people I never would have talked to normally."

Many families turned up for the hunt. Picture: Sam Lennon

Vicky Webb, 33, was also at the beach with her children, Chole, eight, and Natalie, five.

She said: "I heard about this on the radio and I thought we should go down and join in. Some people are getting a bit frustrated at not finding anything but it's a lot of fun."

He found the ring using a metal detector. Stock Image.

Not everyone is impressed by the stunt, however. On twitter, Patrik Pierce said: "it seems greed is the new form of art."

The installation, entitled "Folkestone Digs", is funded by Bristol-based designers Situations.

The idea for the project came from Berlin-based artist Michael Sailstorfer, whose work is the 21st artistic contribution to the Folkestone Triennial.

Whole families searched the sands

Ms Doherty said she hoped the event would create a lasting impression.

She said: "So often public art funding is spent on a static sculpture or a bauble on a roundabout and part of what we do is to say, actually sometimes a temporary project can have as much impact in the collective memory as something that has been there a long time."

Some people are taking it more seriously than others. Picture: Sam Lennon

Festival organiser Lewis Biggs said: "It's a participatory artwork, about people coming to the beach and digging and possibly finding hidden treasure.

"Some people will get lucky, some people will not get lucky. That's life."

"Some people will get lucky, some people will not get lucky. That's life...." - festival organiser Lewis Biggs

The gold is said to have been buried across a wide expanse of beach, but nothing is buried near boats or other hazards.

Organisers say it is only possible to discover the gold at low tide.

Low tide is also from 6am to 11.30am and 4pm to 9pm today.

Born in 1979, Sailstorfer lives and works in Berlin. A common factor across his work is said to be the "disruption of the everyday".

German artist Michael Sailstorfer

Previous works have included painstakingly collecting fallen autumn leaves, painting and refastening them back onto the tree to "simulate a premature spring and enacting a process of 'cabin cannibalism', feeding the rotting wooden walls of a small chalet to the woodburner within, until nothing remained in the landscape but the burning stove".

The initiative has generated huge publicity for the Triennial, and was featured on all national news bulletins last night.

Have you found any of the gold? Email us at multimediadesk@thekmgroup.co.uk and tell us your story.

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