Treasure lay buried for three centuries

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TREASURE hunters in Cheshire have unearthed a fortune buried more than three centuries ago, perhaps by a royalist politician, writes David Keys.

Painstaking detective work by historians suggests that the buried treasure - 3,409 16th and 17th- century silver coins - may have been hidden by John Walker, who had been mayor of Congleton, in Cheshire, three times and who had raised a company of royalist troops in the Civil War.

Working on behalf of Cheshire County Council's principal archaeologist, Adrian Tindall, historians found that Mr Walker had owned the area where the treasure was found, and he died in 1675.

The coins were in four earthenware pots - and had probably been buried at three different times between 1665 and 1673.

Yesterday the find was declared treasure trove by a coroner's court in Congleton.

The original owner probably buried his fortune for safe keeping - but failed to tell his children of the hiding place, a wood.

The coins have a face value of pounds 172, eight shillings and six pence - equivalent today to about pounds 13,000. On the numismatic market they would probably fetch pounds 30,000. However, as treasure trove, the hoard is the property of the Crown. There was insufficient evidence for the inquest jury to declare that Mr Walker was the original owner, and consequently the jury found that the original owner was unknown.