Archaeologists are investigating whether a haul of silver coins discovered by a metal detectorist in Midlothian are the remnants of one of the bloodiest battles ever fought on British soil.
Over 200 coins have been recovered from a former military camp near the site of the Battle of Roslin where Scottish forces led by John Comyn decimated their English counterparts in 1303.
Experts have hailed the find, uncovered by amateur historian Jarosław Musialkowski in March, as “potentially hugely exciting”.
The conflict saw Comyn’s 8,000 men slaughter more than 20,000 members of the English forces under the command of John Segrave in one of the first major battles since the Scots’ defeat at Falkirk five years earlier.
Among the collection of silver discovered by Jarosław, 45, and brother Marcin are dozens of coins bearing a likeness of Edward I, as well as several rare pieces thought to be Irish mint.
The hoard is now set to be evaluated by experts at the National Museum of Scotland’s treasure trove unit.
Jarosław, originally from Puck in Poland, told the Evening News: “We had found some silver at the site before, but nothing of this level.”
“We had some archaeological experts come down and excavate the site, they picked up some items but not many. It was only after we went back and found 44 more coins that we realised we were really on to something.”
Sections of pottery were also uncovered as part of Jarosław’s dig, however the exact location is currently being kept “confidential” by experts.
Historical records are unconfirmed, however it is thought that fewer than 2,000 English out of the near 30,000-strong army survived the battle.
Jarosław added several theories had been put forward as to why such a large collection of coins was discovered in one concentrated area, though said he has personally discounted the idea it came from an “after battle looting” of fallen soldiers due to the absence of jewellery or weapons.
He said: “There is a theory from local people that it could be working womens’ silver, there were thousands of men in the camp, so it is possible.”
“But I think it is more likely to have been payment for mercenaries who took part in the battle. Those hiring them would not have wanted to pay out before they were killed, it is much cheaper to just pay who is left.
“So I think it is possible it was buried with the intention of digging it up later, but we have to wait and see what the museum say.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Treasure Trove unit confirmed they are now assessing the find, but were unable to comment on its current contents until each item has been appraised.
A guide for treasure hunters
TREASURE hunters may thrive on uncovering ancient riches, but the process of declaring their find is complicated by legislation governing what can be done with the items.
Those finding any ancient objects whether they are made of precious metal or other metals or clay it is called ‘treasure trove’ and is the property of the Crown.
Anyone discovering objects which might be treasure trove must report it to the local police or museum, the local authority archaeologist, or the National Museums of Scotland.
Experts at the museum will assess the objects, their value to historical research and their significance before a decision is made. T
he museum will rport the find to the Procurator Fiscal and to the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer. A committee will then decide what should be done with the object.