TALE OF TWO GOLD MEDALS

Once Upon a Time . . .

This is the story of an inspirational long-distance runner who won two gold medals in 1908 and the memories rekindled by a detectorist digging in a Northamptonshire field in 2016. 

There are certain events in history that most of us can recollect. Although you may not remember the date, you will know something about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, the devastation that occurred, and the petrified town of Pompeii. The volcano has spewed lava many times since, but not many will remember the eruption of 1906. If that event hadn’t happened, this tale may have turned out a little differently, but like all good storytellers, I must start at the beginning.

The Coales Gold Cross-Country Medal

Preliminary information was relatively easy to determine for the medal was in good condition and marked MIDLAND COUNTIES CROSS COUNTRY ASSOC. 1908. The reverse has SENIOR CHAMPION and the hallmarks showing that was nine-carat gold fashioned by V&S of Birmingham in 1907. The medal was about 3” by 2” in height and weighed 21g.

Justin Owens and his wife Helen live in Coventry, have been detecting for about eight years and are members of the Coventry Heritage Detecting Society of which Helen was/is secretary. They often make the journey from their Warwickshire home to Northamptonshire to detect with the well-established Central Searchers group run by Richard and Gill Evans. It was on one of their digs that Justin found something interesting, which forms the catalyst for this story.

The dig was in the Brigstock area and Justin was wielding his Minelab E-Trac as usual. He tells me that he’d been swinging uneventfully for about four hours and found ‘nothing’ of note. In a deadpan voice he commented, “and then it happened. I suddenly heard a good signal … and at about three or four inches found gold”. 

Although I tried to elicit how he felt at the discovery, Justin was matter-of-fact and calmly stated that he showed it to Richard Evans who confirmed that he’d found a gold medal! And that’s where we really begin! So many column inches have been written about the finding of an object … this account is about what lies behind the find, the research undertaken, the history uncovered by diligent detectorists and a satisfactory conclusion.

Justin and Helen
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