January 9, 2014 11:47 pm
Updated: January 10, 2014 4:19 am

Watch: Treasure hunter finds 400-year-old English coin in Victoria

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Watch: How did a BC treasure hunter find an English shilling from around 1551 in our province? Global News went along with Bruce Campbell and his metal detector to see how he scored such a rare find.

A Victoria Island man has found a rare coin that can help solve a mystery that goes centuries back.

“It is the oldest coin found on the West Coast to the best my knowledge,” says Bruce Campbell, who has picked up metal detection after retiring last June.

Normally, Campbell finds lots of bottles, caps and aluminum pull tabs, but about three weeks ago he took his metal detector to Gorge Waterway, where he made a rare find.

An English shilling was buried in the clay about six centimeters underground.

He wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, so he posted the pictures to the official Canadian metal detection site, where it was recognized as the coin minted circa 1551.


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The portrait of King Edward VI provided clues, as the coin was only minted during his brief reign.

“It is a very rare coin to find in England, so it is astonishing to find it in Canada,” says Campbell. “The possibilities are endless as to how it came here.”

One theory is that Sir Francis Drake explored the BC coast on a secret mission in 1579.

He was supposedly giving coins of the realm to the Native groups as proof the English had laid claim to the land.

The coin could be a piece of evidence, supporting the story.

While the Royal BC Museum will be conducting tests on the material to try and determine just how long the coin has been in Victoria, no one will ever really know how it arrived.

But Campbell says the mystery keeps it fun.

He says he plans to keep the coin as part of his own collection even though it is worth about $1,000.

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