Lecturer Jamie Pringle has unearthed a medieval coin under his raspberry patch after doing a spot of weeding during lockdown.
He was trying to stave off boredom when he headed into the back garden of his three-bedroom semi in Hartshill.
Within minutes, the Keele University geoscientist was amazed to have dug up a silver groat, which is thought to be more than 660 years old.
As there was only a single coin, it can’t be declared treasure, but Jamie has had the find examined by experts and dated to King Edward III’s reign in the 14th century.
The 46-year-old said: “It just looked like a piece of metal at first. It was right by the raspberries. I was a bit surprised.
“I scanned it and sent it to Stoke-on-Trent’s archaeology service.”
The coin – which looks like a bite has been taken out of it – is the first of its kind to be discovered in Stoke-on-Trent. Across Staffordshire as a whole, only 20 such finds from the period have been officially recorded.
Jamie’s specialism in forensic geophysics means he’s more used to searching for missing people, doing graveyard surveys or other fieldwork.
A few years ago, he was also part of a team that mapped out a Black Death mass burial site in central London.
But while living through our modern-day pandemic, he never expected to find something medieval lying beneath the surface of his own garden.
“The coin is wafer thin. It’s a half-mill thick,” he said. “The bit of it that is missing might have been given as part-payment for something.
“You can see three little circles on it, which means it was minted in London.”
Due to the coronavirus lockdown, the coin, which was discovered on April 3, has been recorded remotely rather than in person.
Victoria Allnatt, Staffordshire and West Midlands finds liaison officer, said it is from the Pre-Treaty period of Edward III’s reign. That means it’s likely to have been minted in 1352 or 1353.
The nearest finds of similar coins have been in Barlaston and Draycott-in-the-Moors.
Victoria added: “The coin itself it is not a rare coin. However, it is the first of its kind discovered in the city of Stoke-on-Trent and recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database.
“Many metal detectorists go a lifetime without finding a medieval silver hammered coin, so this is a surprise find to be discovered in a back garden!
Silver groats were originally worth four pence in old money.
The one found by Jamie Pringle Medieval money is thought to date to 1352 or 1353. It was made by striking or hammering the metal.
The groat is classed as the Pre-Treaty period when the coins carried the French Title as Edward III was King of England and France at the time. In 1360, the Treaty of Bretigni was signed and that meant Edward no longer had a claim to France.
Altogether, 87 coins from his reign have been found in Staffordshire. Of those, 23 were groats, but only 20 were from the Pre-Treaty period.
“It is now one of 20 such groats dating to this specific period of Edward III’s reign, discovered from across Staffordshire and recorded on www.finds.org.uk.”
Jamie is now considering donating it to the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. Although it’s not likely to be worth much in monetary terms, it’s of interest historically.
“I’m tempted to keep digging to see if I find anything else,” he added.