His eyes were heavy. And he was starting to get really paranoid. Was there someone there? He couldn’t stay awake a minute longer, but he had to protect the site at all costs.
Then, as he patrolled the area, he found a clue. That definitely wasn’t there earlier. He was not alone.
Luke Mahoney dreamed of being Indiana Jones. He loved the action-adventure movie series as a kid and had always imagined himself unearthing some ancient treasure that belonged in a museum.
The budding explorer traveled the world with his trusty metal detector looking for his very own Lost Ark or Holy Grail. Simply discovering a useless household object would give him a huge thrill. But it would be 10 years before he realized that the treasure he was seeking had been right under his nose all along.
When he wasn’t scouring the globe for treasure, the 40-year-old father of three ran his own metal detector store called Joan Allen in the small English village of Lindsey.
One afternoon, while behind the counter dreaming off hitting his quarterly sales goal so he could afford his next big exotic expedition, Luke had a brainwave. He grabbed the phone and made a call that would chart the course for the rest of his life.
Charlie Buckle was busy pulling pints at his pub at the Lindsey Rose when the phone rang. It was the lunchtime rush and he really didn’t have time to take calls.
It was his friend Luke, asking if he could sweep the fields at the back of the pub. “We’re really busy at the moment. I’ll have to call you back,” Charlie said, before making his excuses and hanging up. But Luke was itching to get back on the hunt. He would have to go above and beyond to convince Charlie to let him on his land.
The next thing Charlie knew, Luke had turned up at the pub in person and made his way to the front of the crowded bar. “Alright! Alright!” Charlie conceded. “You can search the fields, just let me serve these customers!”
Luke had already brought his Minelab Equinox 800 detector in the hope his friend would give in, so he headed right out to the fields. The next morning, during a well-earned lie-in after a long night at the pub, Charlie’s phone was ringing off the hook. “Ugh. What now?!” he grumbled.
“Luke gets quite excited about everything he finds, so at first I was like ‘yeah, OK.’ But then he kept ringing and told me I had to come down and see what he had found.”
Charlie crawled out of bed and made his way outside to see what the archaeologist wannabe had dug up. When he saw what Luke was holding in his hand, he understood why he was so eager to show him.
After spending the whole evening and next morning scanning the 15-acre field with the sophisticated device, Luke had unearthed an old coin. Then another. And another.
Having informed the landowner of the find, Luke quickly called the authorities in accordance with the Treasure Act 1996. He’d scoured the world for a discovery like this and here it was in his own backyard! But little did he know, there was another treasure hunter staking out his coins.
After unearthing several more ancient coins, Luke started to get paranoid. “I was up for three days solid. I didn’t sleep. I just sat there with my eyes open looking for nighthawks.”
Luke was seriously on edge. Until English Heritage arrived to cordon off the area, it was up to him to keep the treasure site safe from raiders. As he sat in his car by the field, his eyelids started to get really heavy. It was then that he saw something moving in the bushes.
When Luke got to the bushes, he realized he must have been seeing things, but then he noticed something on the ground that sent him back into high-alert mode.
A headphone casing was lying on the floor right where he had been digging. There was no way that had been there before. The prospect of getting any sleep that night slipped away. Tomorrow, he would get an expert opinion on what he’d found.
In the end, Luke uncovered more than 1,000 silver coins dating back to somewhere between the 15th and 17th centuries, as well as a clay pot. Expert Nigel Mills valued the haul at more than £100,000 ($131,000).
“They were everywhere!” exclaimed Luke of his big find. “It was pandemonium! After 10 minutes of searching, I hit this massive signal and I thought ‘this is it.’” But what of the “nighthawks” staking out his treasure?
“I knew the nighthawks wouldn’t find anything,” said Luke confidently. “They weren’t using the same detector as me. They weren’t using the Minelab detector.”
The metal detecting expert claims his device is so sensitive it could tell you if there was a key on the ground without you even having to bend down to pick it up. But did Luke’s big haul finally scratch his itch for adventure?
Despite having earned a pretty penny for his pretty pennies, Luke will never stop hunting for treasure.
“That feeling of scraping the dirt away and seeing the coins is indescribable,” he said, like a kid at Christmas. “If you think you have a bit of Indiana Jones in you – you should do it!” Is there a field in your area that could do with a few sweeps of a metal detector?