AMATEUR archaeologists Andy Green and Shaun Scott have unearthed a hoard of 2,000-year-old treasure worth more than £500,000.
The Castleford Asda warehouse workers have spent three years uncovering the rare artefacts which are believed to be part of the lost treasure of first century British queen Cartimandua.
The duo believe their haul – found on private land in North Yorkshire – is “just the tip of the iceberg” and they expect to find more of the hidden fortune.
One of the pieces the pair found – a large gold torque – is to be sold at auction in London on October 6 and could fetch more than £350,000.
Mr Green, 46, a former field operative for West Yorkshire Archaeology Service, said: “Everyday people only see artefacts of this quality through glass cases in museums. Even the owners of the land did not believe how valuable these things were.
“This is a once in a lifetime find and just the tip of the iceberg. We believe there is a lot more to discover and there is still a lot of work to do. We have only worked on five per cent of the land. It is going to change a lot of lives.”
Since 2008, the pair have unearthed three gold torques (worn around the arm or neck), two Celtic gold staters (coins), a gold pin and a Viking ring.
Mr Green added: “We found the treasure by using metal detectors and through archaeological techniques. I can tell just by walking across a site if it is likely to produce any important finds.
“I knew these were valuable because they were made of gold, but I’ve learned a lot since then. The staters and the artefacts have all come from the same source. I believe there is a good possibility these are the royal artefacts, but we need more evidence.”
Mr Green said all the pieces apart from the large gold torque had been subject to treasure trove inquests and were now in the Yorkshire and British Museums.
He added: “I cleaned the large torque with lemon juice, so when the British Museum analysed it, it was recorded as a Bronze Age piece. We did our own metal composition and we have proved it’s an Iron Age piece, like the rest of the artefacts we found.”
The cleaning of the torque – stripping away some of its patina – meant the British Museum could not continue to analyse it so it was returned to the two men.
Mr Green worked for the archaeological service in the 1980s, later setting up his own business as a property developer.
When the property market crashed in 2008, he started work part-time at Asda and, with help from colleague Mr Scott, reignited his archaeology hobby.
Mr Green said: “I thought it was the right time to return to the site. I just asked Shaun if he’d like to come with me, he’d never done anything like that before. I told him it might change his life, and it looks like it could do.”
Mr Scott, 44, said: “The first time Andy asked me to go to the site I said no. I didn’t fancy spending my day off standing in the middle of a field.
“A few months later he asked me again and I went, just as a favour really. It has been a real journey since then, when we found the artefacts I was so excited I didn’t sleep for three days. It has been extremely hard work but this is just the start, we have only worked on a small area. There is a lot of work still to do, but we are hopeful we will find the rest of the hoard.”
The story of Queen Cartimandua – who hid her fortune when she was rescued by the Romans after her northern kingdom came under attack in the first century – looks likely to be the subject of a television documentary put together by producer Russell Dever.
He said: “The person who finds the golden hoard may well stumble on the resolution of a 2,000 mystery. Exactly where Cartimandua’s royal stockade was positioned remains open to discussion.”
Mr Green added: “I want to thank archaeology consultants John Bugless and Simon Tomson, Amy Downes from West Yorkshire Archaeology Service portable antiquities scheme, Dr Keith Emerick from English Heritage, Richard Van Riel, former curator at Pontefract Museum, and solicitor Ian McCombie for all their help.
“We are not just in it for the money side of things, we have donated some items to the Yorkshire Museum. There are great plans and there will be books and documentaries made about what we have found.
“It makes you think – do you find the treasure, or does the treasure find you?”