Gardening is a relaxing activity that many people enjoy. Some even get really into it and spend hours perfecting their backyards. It’s unexpected that you will come across some hidden treasure, but once in a while, you surprise yourself and find a 700-year-old coin! Well, that’s exactly what happened to one young girl. However, she never expected that this find would lead to the police knocking on her door.
Helping Her Mom
When she was 9 years old, Kate Harding was helping her mother in their garden. She was innocently playing in the dirt when she suddenly discovered a silver coin. She took the coin and ran into the house.
As most children do when they find treasures, Kate kept the coin a secret from her parents. She went straight for her room and cleaned the coin to see it more clearly. She figured it was buried for a long amount of time given the condition it was in.
Abandoned In Her Dresser Drawer
She spent a week fantasizing over her new discovery but that didn’t last long. She put the coin in her drawer and quickly forgot it even existed. However, this was not the last time she would see this coin, it would actually return several years later.
Brings Her Back
At the time, she barely gave the coin a second thought. Regardless, she kept it to herself and stowed it away in her closet drawer. When it was time to go to college, this childhood treasure resurfaced.
A Sudden Loss
Shortly after she found the coin in the first place, her mother passed away. When she found the coin years later she was immediately reminded of the last happy memories she had with her mom.
A Good Memory
This event completely turned her life upside down. She decided to keep the coin close to her this time, as a reminder of her late mother and the happy times they shared together in the garden.
Kate did not know how much about the coin when she was young, but now that she was an adult she saw it was time to do her research. She suddenly became extremely curious and made it her goal to find out more.
I Need Answers
She was 23 years old when she decided to figure out more. She was interested in what exactly this coin was and where it came from. She quickly became fascinated with this small piece of metal. A million questions ran through her head and she was determined to find answers fast.
Trying To Understand
The following day, Kate ventured off to the local museum and requested the help of experts in the field. She carefully explained her story and asked that they help her create a more vivid thorough understanding of the coin.
Looking For Answers
She wandered through the museum walls searching for answers to her inquiries. All she wanted to know was the origins of the treasure she found. She could never have expectd the trouble it would subsequently cause!
When she revealed the coin from her bag, the educated staff examined it. After carefully looking at all sides and edges of the coin, they told her some interesting news, something she never saw coming.
One of the staff members told Kate this was not actually a coin like she expected. On the contrary, it was something completely different. Kate couldn’t believe her ears. If she didn’t find a coin, then what could it be?
No Doubt In Her Mind
When Kate discovered this coin there was no doubt in her mind that it was a coin. She was curious to know more, yet still, she was sure it was just a coin. However, this find was far more valuable and interesting than she knew.
Not Good News
In reality, they only have four different types of coins like this in the United Kingdom. You may think that this is news to be celebrated, however, this is actually incorrect. Chaos was erupting and Kate had no way to avoid what was coming.
Not A Coin
The specialists told Kate that from the outside it may seem like a coin, but really it was a piedfort, which resembles a coin. Pieforts are a bit different than coins. They are double in weight and thickness.
An Understandable Mistake
It was normal that she accidentally confused the piedfort and coin, anyone that’s not an expert in the field would make a similar error. This sparked an interest in piedforts, and she wondered how one ended up in her backyard.
A Heap Of Cash
When she understood that her discovery was more valuable than she thought, she suddenly became more interested in it. This could really help out with her student loans! Finally, she wouldn’t have to live off of each paycheck!
It made sense that she was ecstatic when she learned how valuable this new find really was. She was the one who discovered it, so why wouldn’t she get to enjoy the profits from it.
A Great Find
However, experts are not even sure of the real purpose of piedforts. They assumption is that they were used as instructions for mint workers or reckoning counters for officials. It was clear they were important, but it was still unclear exactly why.
She Couldn’t Believe It
This object was so rare and was around for 700 years. After hearing this news she had to sit down, her head was spinning. Later she would wish she paid more attention to what they were telling her.
Discovering Its Value
When they discovered the value of this obbject, they told it was a symbol for the ascension of Charles IV to the French throne back in 1322. That being said, it clearly had significant history that made it so valuable.
This unfamiliar piedfort was valued at $3,000. Although she was imaging everything she could do with that large sum of money, she still felt like it was priceless because of the meaning it held for her.
Forego The Cash
For Kate, the emotional significance of the object was more than the cost. The reason she kept it with her after all this time is that it made her feel connected to her deceased mother. She rather have kept the coin than pawn it off for money.
On Different Pages
Unfortunately, this is not exactly how it went down. The British police were not as sensitive to Kate’s story as she would have hoped. The coin had so much history that officials even wanted to take it from Kate.
A Messy Situation
Kate did not understand this and was not willing to give in. On the other hand, the authorities had difficulty understanding why Kate was so determined to hold on to this item. They thought, If she was getting money, what was the big deal?
She was urged by the Ludlow Museum to tell the local coroner about her new and rare discovery. This way, they could look it over and begin negotiations. When they saw the coin, they immediately wanted to buy it from her.
She Didn’t Want To Sell
Unfortunately for them, her mind was set and there was no chance of budging. She was keeping this piedfort and would ignore the request. She assumed they would eventually give up, but she was very off.
The museum regularly sent Kate letters requesting to buy the coin from her and she also received continuous calls about it. However, she continued to ignore their attempts and would not give it up. This coin was important to her, and she wasn’t willing to part with it.
Can’t Hide Forever
There was no escaping their daily messages forever. Eventually, she would coincide with a Southern Shropshire coroner named Anthony Sibcy who was informed about the situation. She would soon learn that he was not going away.
A Terrible Surprise
In the blink of an eye, the police were knocking on her. A request was put out and she was summoned to a court hearing. Kate was absolutely blown away. What had she possibly done that deserved going to court? In her mind, this item belonged to her as she was the one who found it in the first place.
In Too Deep
Well, she was unaware that the law stated something else. She wasn’t even aware that laws existed surrounding historical coins. At this point, she was far too engaged in this situation and she had no clear exit.
Kate was the first person in history charged under the Treasure Act of 1996. She never expected that this find would result in such harsh consequences. All she was searching for was answered to her curiousity regarding a coin she found as a young child.
The Treasure Act
The Treasure Act Of 1996 is legally binding and was created by the United Kingdom Parlimaent. It stated that the person who discoveres any kind of object that can be seen as a treasure, must inform authorities of her revealation.
It also says that an object that exists for more than 300 years old and contains 10 percent special metals AND is not a coin, must be announced to officials by the end of 14 days. All of which Kate has not followed.
Kate was guilty of exactly this, but she did not even know! How can they blame her given she didn’t realize the value of her item, and she didn’t know such a law existed. The officials did not even have an ounce of remorse for this poor girl!
Who Was Right?
Every step she took could be named a criminal offense. Also, her offense was taken even more severely as she failed to report the coin and refused to give it in. Looking at both sides, who exactly is in the right?
This the worst situation that could have happened to poor Kate. She felt completely helpless and missed her mom more than ever. She was in need of assistance and advice but instead she was arrested, prosecuted, and facing jail time.
In Her Defense
Thankfully she hired an incredible lawyer from Shrewsbury named Brendan Reedy. Given his detailed experience in assisting clients in magistrates courts, the police station, the Crown Court and Court of Appeal, she was certain she could trust him.
On Her Side
Reedy was entirely on her side and was willing to defend her side against the officials. The wait was overwhelming, would she come out of the case a winner, or would she be forced to hand in her sentimental coin.
A Big Headache
Her lawyer presented her case by saying that Kate hadn’t come forward because she had it stowed away for years, and it reminded her of her late mother. In addition, she was 5 years old when she found the object and she couldn’t have come forward.
Only Time Would Tell
Hopefully, this would be enough to save her. Kate and her lawyer were hopeful that it would work. However, they were aware that the courts can be strict to get what they want and they would only know with time.
Gardening With Mom
Kate spoke candidly about how she did not record her discovery once she was told about the law. While it is clear that this was not the smartest thing she could have done, at the same time this special coin reminded her of gardening with her mother who passed away.
It Was Priceless
Regardless of the accusations made against her and what was at stake, Kate was persistent about keeping the coin. It didn’t matter to her how valuable and rare it was. She cared about the meaning behind it, and nobody else could relate like this.
She Had Nowhere To Turn
This was the last reminder she had of her mother and it was priceless! Even if the chargers were dropped, she was confident that would still go after her. She had to carefully think about her next move.
Speaking To The Coroner
The trial was exhausting, but by the end, she was finally able to go free. However, there was one condition. She was instructed to pay $30 in legal fees. Although she felt strongly that the object belonged to her, she still did not have the right to keep it.
Still A Surprise
After the case was cleared up, she took responsibility and did what she should have done in the first place. She went to speak to the coroner, but they were unaware that she had a surprise awaiting them.
She Lost It
The Ludlow Museum, who helped her understand the value of this piece, offered to pay her $3,000 in exchange for the treasure. Unfortunately for them, she lost it when she went to speak to the coroner, and the piedfort never ended up at the museum.
The community was outraged by the way the authorities behaved in this vulnerable circumstance. They supported Kate and said, “Since when did museums become law enforcers? I too would ignore threatening letters from a bunch of ‘collectors.’”
The public was blown away that there was even a lawsuit! They spoke openly at their anger towards the situation and could not believe what lengths they went to take away this young woman’s belongings. “I’m all for preserving English heritage, but quite rightly this is her property…” Kate had support behind her and she was going to be okay.
Bending The Law
One individual questioned the law and said “…What happened to possession is 9/10ths of the law?” While another was frustrated, and could not understand the logic in Kate giving away the coin that she found in the first place.
One man named Alan brought something to everyone’s attention when he asked an important question: “If the find was in 1996, did it occur before or after the Treasure Act came into force?”
In reality, how can the prosecuting attorney actually prove the exact date the piedfort was found? The museum was determined to get their hands on the piece and was willing to cross lines to do so.
He asked more questions like, “if it took place 14 years ago she was only 9 years old. What was the age of criminal responsibility at the time? For juveniles under the age of 15, the prosecution would still have to prove that she knew that the act was seriously wrong.”
He finished his argument by saying the court’s behavior was appalling and ignorant, and Kate should appeal before a real judge to get her criminal record wiped clean. One tiny coin managed to cause such a commotion!
No Matter What
After 14 years, how could Kate really lose this treasure? Especially after going to court for it! It sounds suspicious, and we don’t necessarily buy it. What we know for certain, is that Kate would do anything to keep this object in her possession.
She was open to anything, even if it meant something unethical. She wanted to keep this coin and she was never giving it up. We don’t really blame her for it. Imagine you lost a loved one, especially your mom, and this was the last thing that reminded you of them. I would behave the same way!
Willing To Do Anything
If we were in her position, we would have done the exact same thing. This coin was a memory of her mother and nobody, regardless of the historical value, should take that away from her.
Into Thin Air
After it was announced that the coin was lost, the harrassment finally calmed down and Kate was left alone. The museum was disappointed that they could not examine the coin since its location was left a mystery.
Although Kate had the potential to gain a substantial amount of money, she probably stowed the coin away in her house somewhere. We hope she enjoys this object and expects that she will pass it to her children in the future. Hopefully, this is not the last time this coin is seen. She went through such trouble to keep the coin and it would be a shame if it were really gone.