World’s Most Famous Metal Detector Discoveries

World’s Most Famous Metal Detector Discoveries

More and more people are getting into treasure hunting through the use of a metal detector. This is due to numerous recent discoveries of valuable buried treasure that have been uncovered all around the world, bringing fame and fortune to those responsible for discovering each treasure.

The key to finding long lost treasure is having the right metal detector, most treasure hunters relying on the most recent metal detector reviews to give them insight on what to look for in terms of the latest features that will give them an edge and helping them choose a metal detector that is easy to use. Aside from important historical artifacts that are still out there waiting to be found, you may come across a number of other valuable finds such as gold nuggets or meteorites. Let us take a look at some of the world’s most famous metal detector discoveries to date. Let these discoveries inspire you to find some treasure yourself.

English Hordes

Many of the most valuable metal detector finds have come out of the United Kingdom. Within England, a number of treasure hordes have been dug up over the past few decades. Both the Wickham Market Hoard and the Frome Hoard were both valued at around $400,000, the Wickham Market Hoard consisting of Iron Age gold coins and the Frome Hoard consisting of over 50,000 silver and bronze coins.

 An even more valuable hoard valued at over $500,000 was the Shapwick Hoard which was uncovered by an amateur treasure hunter who was teaching his cousin how to metal detect. The hoard consisted of thousands of Roman silver coins dating back to the 1st century BC.  One of England’s most valuable hoards, however, is the $5 million Staffordshire Hoard that was discovered in 2009. The hoard which is thought to have been buried during the 7th century was discovered by a metal detector in a field which helped to uncover more than 3,500 objects including over 5kg of gold objects.

 Gold Discoveries

Metal detectors have also been used to uncover some giant gold nuggets in places like the North America and Australia. One of the largest gold nuggets ever found in the Western Hemisphere was uncovered by a cheap metal detector. Known as the Boot of Cortez, a boot-shaped gold nugget was found in Mexico’s Sonoran Desert and is valued at just under $2 million.

To the north in California, the $400,000 Mojave Nugget is the largest gold nugget ever discovered in California and was also found by using a metal detector. The nugget weighs 156 ounces and was later donated to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Over in Australia, the second largest gold nugget found in the country during the 20th century was uncovered by a metal detector. Known as the Hand of Faith, this 960-ounce and nearly $3 million nugget is actually the largest gold nugget ever discovered using a metal detector. The nugget was discovered just 12 inches below the surface back in the 1980s and was sold to the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas where it is now on public display.

Hand of faith gold nugget: Photo by Ken Lund

Meteorite Discoveries

Some metal detector discoveries are truly out of this world. What would you do if you dug up a meteorite?  To say 13-year-old Jansen Lyons was shocked when he uncovered a two-pound space rock in New Mexico would be an understatement. The meteorite was confirmed to be a L6 ordinary chondrite that had probably landed on Earth around 10,000 years ago.

Over in Australia just outside of Melbourne, a 17kg meteorite was discovered by metal detecting in 2015.The 4.6 billion-year-old meteorite known as an H5 ordinary chondrite was found in Maryborough Regional Park and is thought to have landed there between 100 and 1,000 years ago. It is thought the meteorite originates from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and is only one of 17 meteorites ever found in the state.

If you wish to find a meteorite of your own, try searching the strewn fields of Arizona, Texas, and California where many discoveries have been made.


Jewelry Finds

Of course, one of the most common metal detector treasure finds is jewelry items. Everything from modern diamond rings to ancient Viking bracelets have been uncovered by using metal detectors.

One of the most famous pieces of jewelry to be found is the Newark Torc, an Iron Age gold alloy torc found near Nottinghamshire, England. In case you’re wondering, a torc is a stiff neck ring. The Newark Torc was crafted from electrum and plaited into eight thin ropes which were then twisted together. The find which may date back as far as 250 BC is considered to be one of the most significant recent Iron Age Celtic gold jewelry discoveries. Other Iron Age gold torcs have also been discovered in the UK and date back even further including the famous Leekfrith torcs which date from 400-250 BC.

There have been numerous discoveries of rings and jewels both on land and sea which once belonged to royalty. Some have been scattered finds on beaches or fields while others were part of famous shipwrecks. A recent metal detector discovery near Loch Lomond, Scotland uncovered a ring once belonging to a courtier of the future James II of England.

Some rings have even been discovered still attached to finger bones like the one found in the U.S. which is thought to have belonged to a military man who was under the command of Lt. Col. George Custer. The man was most likely killed by the Sioux Indians during the 19th century Indian Wars.

Of course many jewelry finds don’t belong to anyone famous but still hold a great deal of sentimental value to their owners. There have been countless stories of class rings and wedding bands being returned to their owners after losing them for several years. Every jewelry discovery has a story and tracking down the original owner can often be just as exciting and rewarding as uncovering it with a metal detector.  

golden torc: photo by Alistair Paterson


Special metal detectors are also used to search underwater shipwrecks and they have been able to uncover countless valuable items. Detectors were used to salvage hundreds of gold coins from a Spanish shipwreck dating back to 1715 off the coast of Florida, worth more than $4.5 million. The Odyssey Marine Exploration used detectors to uncover over $600 million in gold and silver coins that went down with a Spanish frigate off the coast of Portugal in 1804. Many finds from the 17th century Spanish treasure galleon Atocha that sunk off the coast of the Florida Keys were also found using metal detectors.

These are just a few of the exceptional discoveries that have been made with metal detectors and there are likely countless more to be found. We encourage you to get in the fun and excitement of finding your own treasure, just remember to research the legalities of doing so. There are many laws in place regarding where you are allowed to dig. You may be required to report any significant finds to local authorities, however, many times there is at least a generous finder’s fee awarded if the items must be handed over. Most findings, however, will be your to keep so long as you followed all the legal guidelines.



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Author: Michael Jerrard

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