The Highwayman's Hoard
Getting Permission Can Be Rewarding
Hunts Are Educational
People In Scoping
Nice Day For Treasure Hunting
A Balancing Act
About Those Electroscopes®
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The Highwayman's Hoard
As told to David Peterson by David Cowell

Why are you a treasure hunter? What is the motivation that keeps you out in the rain, wind, or cold while others are sitting cozily inside watching TV? When David Cowell, the sales director of C-Scope International, Ltd., is a speaker at treasure club meetings in Great Britain he relates the true story of the Highwayman's Hoard to help him answer these questions. I heard David tell this tale to a group of treasure hunters at the great hunt in Oregon Hill, Pennsylvania in the summer of 1989. The yarn goes something like this.

Les Clayton, a friend of mine, was responsible for me learning this story. Les was a fireman. Once there was a big fire in the tunnel under the Thames River. He was involved in fighting the fire and got burned. He had to retire from fighting fires. He was sitting around one day wondering what he should do with all his spare time when he saw a chap with a plate on the end of a stick. Les borrowed the man's detector for a time and found his first coin. This first find hooked him on detecting an he never looked back. Les was an enthusiastic ambassador for the sport. He never stopped talking about it. He found tremendous things with his C-Scope and would have found even more had he stopped talking about treasure hunting and done even more searching.

Les was out detecting one hot summer's day. He stopped about two o'clock to eat sandwiches his wife Jean, a competent detectorist in her own right, had prepared for him in the morning. He had failed to turn off his C-Scope as he sat it beside a tree. He immediately received a signal which canceled lunch and sent him searching. He found two old coins that had apparently fallen from the tree. He continued searching around the tree area. He got a huge detector indication and found the signaled objects were deep under the roots of the tree where lunch was planned.

After burrowing about and struggling through the tree roots Les found the remnants of an old leather pouch and quite a number of coins. The coin dates were from the late 1700's with a considerable year span between the earliest coin date and the latest coin date. The coins had a coarseness about them similar to a salt water erosion which would suggest they were at sea a long time. How would coins such as these be under the roots of a tree? Les thought the following account was feasible.

During the 1600-1700's, men were often forced into going to sea with no other alternative but to be a seaman for an entire voyage, which may last for twenty years or more. After being at sea for a long time this unfortunate sailor finally reached the big dock at Chathum in the southeast of England. With a sack full of coins, accumulated through the years during the long cruise, the mariner wished to find traces of his past. He probably would travel by stagecoach to the main area of habitation: London.

On the way to London the stagecoach passed through various wooded localities. Awaiting in one of these wooded areas was a highwayman. Dick Turpin was a known highwayman of his day, much like Jesse James and Black Bart in America. The highwayman would not rob rich stages because they were well guarded. He would plunder small passenger stages that only had a driver and a few passengers. Such a stage our unfortunate sailor could have been riding on with his bag of coins.

In a little place called Gad's Hill, just outside of Chathum, is a small woods. Waiting there to rob an unwary stage was Dick Turpin. When the stagecoach arrived he rode out with his pistol raised on high and demanded money from passengers, including the seaman. The poor man had to hand over his accumulation of coins and Dick Turpin road off with money on his horse, Black Bess.

Dick rode back into the woods of Gad's Hill. Since Dick didn't want to get robbed himself he decide to hide his ill-gotten gains. Instead of burying the loot he simply deposited it in the cleft of a tree. Dick never returned for the sailor's money. Perhaps Dick was shot on the next robbery. Maybe the highwayman was hanged from the gallows in Chathum itself. Perhaps he left the area never to return. The fact is: the highwayman never came back for the coins.

Over the years the leather bag that held the coins rotted away. Slowly the inside of the tree decayed. As this happened the coins slid down the inside of the tree because of gravitational pull, except for two coins that fell onto the ground.

To me, this story illustrates why we hunt for treasure. We all think we will perhaps find something of immense value. At the end of the day we don't. What we do get is something of immense value in it's own right. We acquire a sort of empathy with the past. It is the excitement of explaining how something got to be where it is that creates this kinship with history. Les's story of these coins may not be true, but still it could be.

He swears he didn't recover all of the coins and he would get the rest of them another day, but sadly, Les died before going back. I don't know the exact location of the tree. Perhaps one of you can find the tree and coins to continue this story.


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