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Scholes Civil War Hoard

Over the last few years the press has been filled with reports of hoards of gold and silver discovered around the county by metal detectorists, "The Anglo-Saxon Hoard" and "The Leeds Hoard" are known examples with many others discovered over the years, not previously by electronic means but by chance when the ground or buildings were disturbed by any sort of works. In times of strife or risk it is human nature to try and protect valuables usually by hiding them in the ground or in secret places in buildings. If anything then prevents the original owner from retrieving them they remain hidden until by chance they are rediscovered.

It appears that just such a event occurred in Scholes during the English Civil Wars of 1640‘s and 1650‘s. In early March 1824 a labourer who worked for Mr. Legat of Scholes Park was levelling the foundations of an old building at the east end of Scholes when he discovered a hoard of silver coins. These were of the reigns of Mary I (1553 - 1558), Elizabeth 1 (1558 - 1603), James 1 (1603 - 1625) and Charles I (1625 - 1649). It is a good rule of thumb to date when a hoard was hidden to the latest coin discovered which fits in perfectly with the turmoil the County- was going through during the Civil war.

Scholes was directly in the firing line during the conflict, the Battle of Seacroft Moor took place on its doorstep in March 1643 which was six years before Charles I was executed. Perhaps a terrified villager quickly buried his family‘s wealth at the side of his house, perhaps solders came into the villager and one buried the coins in a place they would recognise when they returned. I guess we will never know, what is clear however is that whoever buried them never came back, never recovered them, suggesting they died or were killed.

The hoard discovered in Scholes in 1824 was by no means the only one discovered in the village. Sometime in the early/mid 18th Century (1740‘s?), a high wind blew down the thatched roof of a cottage in the village and along with it was a sacking bag full of silver coins. This hoard looks to have created some jealousy as it was reported that it “enabled two artful rogues to raise themselves from poverty to a state of apparent respectability, at the expense of a poor old woman who rented the house, or rather, we should say, at the expense of the Lord of the Manor”.

Today any hoards and treasury found must be declared to the police under the 1996 Treasury Act. An inquest is then led by a coroner to confirm whether the find constitutes treasure or not. If it is, the owner must offer the items for sale to a museum at a price set by an independent board of experts.


Source : The Leeds Intelligencer

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