David Cockle, 50, who stole 10 ancient gold coins that he found with a metal detector has been jailed for 16 months.|
He found the Merovingian Tremissis coins in a field in west Norfolk and sold them to a dealer for £15,000. He had entered into a contract with the landowner to split the proceeds of any find 50:50, but reneged after finding the coins. He also failed to tell the coroner as required by law, instead selling the coins in three smaller batches to disguise the fact they were treasure trove. Cockle was dismissed from the Norfolk Police.
|Another metal detectorist had discovered 35 Merovingian coins at the same site and declared them honestly. Had Cockle done the same, the discovery would have been the largest find of Merovingian coins in the UK - surpassing the discovery of 37 such coins at Sutton Hoo. Coinage fell out of general use in Britain after the departure of the Romans. During the sixth century Anglo-Saxon settlers learnt to use money, initially with gold solidi and later with imported tremisses. The minting of coins in England started around the early seventh century. Economic pressures led to a debasement of the gold shilling, and in the 670s it was replaced by a new silver coin known as a penny. Merovingian Tremissis coins are rare and valuable. |