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'Exciting' find in Kent field

A HOARD of 25 Celtic gold coins, discovered in found in a field at Westerham and believed to date back to a few years before the birth of Christ, were declared to be treasure at an inquest in Tunbridge Wells today.

The coins were found by Nicholas Moon, a member of the Kent Archaeological Society and the Maidstone Archaeological Group, who for security reasons gave his home address in writing.

He told West Kent coroner Roger Hatch that he was interested in metal detecting and local history. For about two-and-a half years, with the landowner's permission, he had been studying a site in Westerham.

During a search in autumn 2000 he had found a single coin similar to those in the hoard in that area. But in November 2001 a search of a 100 square feet area in a field revealed 14 gold coins, and a subsequent search in October last year turned up a further 11 coins, all of the same type.

The discovery had been reported to the Celtic Coin Index in Oxford, to Maidstone Museum, and as required under the Treasure Act 1996 to the coroner.

The inquest heard that Richard Abdy, of the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum had examined the coins and believed they had been made by native Iron Age people living south of the River Thames during the country's last period of independence before occupation by the Romans.

The coins were not produced during the hearing but Mr Hatch said that he was satisfied the coins, taken together, could be declared treasure.

They may now be acquired by a museum, with the finder and landowner eligible for rewards, or may be kept by the finder

After the inquest, Mr Moon declined to say what would become of the coins or put a value on them, but he added: "It was a very exciting, once-in-a-lifetime find."

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