Amateur metal detectorist makes a fortune after finding one of England's earliest gold coins in Devon

Amateur metal detectorist makes a fortune after finding one of England's earliest gold coins in Devon

Image: Spink & Son

An amateur metal detectorist is celebrating after finding one of England’s earliest gold coins, now worth a fortune, in a field in Devon.
Michael Leigh-Mallory discovered the rare coin in a field in Hemyock, Devon, in September.
The King Henry III penny was made with gold imported from North Africa and is slightly less than an inch wide. There are only eight such coins that have ever been discovered, and this was the first to be found in 260 years.
Leigh-Mallory did not know just how rare the coin was until he shared a photo of it on Facebook and it caught the eye of a specialist at Spink Auctioneers, London.
Experts have said that the Henry III penny shows the first “true” portrait of an English monarch on the throne since William the Conqueror. Almost all of these coins were destroyed after Henry III’s death.
The coin was auctioned off to a private bidder for a price of £648,000. Leigh-Mallory will split the money with the landowner and will put his share towards his children’s future.
Gregory Edmund, a specialist at Spink & Son, stated: “Not only does this now stand as the most valuable single coin find in British history, but also the most valuable Medieval English coin ever sold at auction. It was bought by an anonymous private buyer resident in the United Kingdom who intends to place the coin on loan to a public institution or museum.”
Leigh-Mallory, an ecologist, said: “The coin was found in an unappealing field and could quite easily have never been recovered. Now it is protected for future generations to enjoy and it is truly humbling that I was its finder.
He dedicated the impressive discovery to his children, Harry (10) and Emily (13), and visited London to “thank” Henry III at his tomb in Westminster Abbey.
He said: “It is quite surreal really. I’m just a normal guy who lives in Devon with his family so this really is a life-changing sum of money which will go towards their futures. But it’s not all about the money – for me it’s about the history. I’m very passionate about British history. It’s an honour to be connected to this find and I will remember this day for the rest of my life.”
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Tamsin Brown

Originally from London, Tamsin is based in Malaga and is a local reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering Spanish and international news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at