A metal detectorist has unearthed a hoard of gold coins worth £30,000, dating back to Henry VIII’s reign.

Peter Astley found the nine immaculate half-sovereign pieces on the grounds of historic Ashcombe Park Hall in Staffordshire.

Although he was on an organised rally with a metal detecting club, the 66-year-old was alone in a field when he found the first two gold coins buried 8ins underground.

The thrilled treasure hunter put them in his coin holder and carried on searching.

Over the course of the next hour, he found seven more hammered coins.

The nine pieces of gold were found on the grounds of historic Ashcombe Park Hall in Staffordshire

Peter Astley, who found the hoard, only took up metal detecting a year ago

After brushing off the mud he was able to identify them as eight Henry VIII half-sovereigns and a solitary Edward VI half-sovereign.

Peter showed them to his fellow detectorists and was treated like a celebrity for the rest of the day, with members flocking over to speak to him and look at his hoard.

He has since registered his epic discovery with the local finds liaison officer, as required by law.

He is waiting to hear whether the coins are declared treasure, in which case a museum will be given the chance to buy them, or if they can be returned to Peter as ‘finder’s keepers’.

It is believed the hoard could be worth about £30,000, with the Edward coin alone valued at £9,000.

Peter, a software development director, will have to split any money made from the coin with the landowner.

It remains a mystery as to how the coins were buried at Ashcombe Park Hall in the 16th century.

Back then, the estate was called Botham Hall and the owner was involved with the church.

It could be that with all the upheaval surrounding Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries at the time, the owner buried them for safekeeping.

The gold coins are thought to be around £30,000 in value with an Edward VI half-sovereign valued at £9,000 alone

It remains a mystery as to how the coins were buried at Ashcombe Park Hall in the 16th century

But Peter, from Sandbach, Cheshire, believes it was the loot of a highwayman who buried them and was either captured or killed before he could go back for them.

Peter, who is a member of the Midlands Detecting Days club and only took up the hobby a year ago, said: ‘We all knew that Ashcombe Park Hall is quite historic and that there could be some finds there.

‘It has quite a huge expanse of land and there were a lot of detectorists there that day.

‘I spent three hours searching one field and decided to switch to another one because I hadn’t found anything.

‘I went to a field close to the hall and decided to search a couple of metres in front of the edge of the field as I thought lots of people would have looked there.

‘I spotted some undulations on the surface so I decided to look there. I got a signal and dug down. A clump came out and I broke it up and there was a gold face of a hammered coin shining brightly in the sunlight.

‘I realised they were actually two coins together and nothing had come between them in 500 years.

Peter, a software development director, will have to split any money made from the coin with the landowner

‘I pulled them apart and just thought, “Wow”.

‘I checked the hole and got another signal and found another half-sovereign and then another one and then another one.

‘I spent another 20 minutes checking, but nothing else came out.

‘I walked back to the display table and showed everyone what I had found. People started milling around, taking pictures and asking me questions. I was there for hours.

‘Various people have guessed how they came to be buried there.

‘Back when it was Botham Hall, someone in the family was something to do with the church and there is a possibility that with all the religious upheaval in the 16th century, they may have hidden the coins.

‘Botham Hall could have also been the perfect location for a highwayman. There was a coaching house, cobbled pathways and a roadway leading away from the main hall.’

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