Terry swept the old metal detector over the weeds and grass of the West Midland farmer’s field.
It had been a hobby spanning years with not much to show for it – until one summer’s day. A high-pitched beep would completely change his life … he just didn’t realize it would be for the worse.
14 years earlier, Terry had found the metal detector at a yard sale for only a couple pounds. It was a great deal and a way to fill his free time.
It became especially important when he became unemployed. Eventually, he asked his friend if he could explore the back property. It began as a friendly yes.
As usual, he took his time – walking back and forth in repetitive, efficient lines. It was probably going to be bottle caps or other junk. Beep.
Terry swept over the area again. Beep. It was a rare sound and he quickly scraped and pulled the earth away. He saw something shiny and his heart pounded.
Terry called Fred out, and both were certain it was important enough to call in specialists.
A few days later, an entire team was uncovering the site. With each item pulled from the ground, Terry could feel his bank account swelling – even more so when they told him it was the biggest Anglo-Saxon treasure find in British history.
The “Staffordshire Hoard” as it ended up dubbed, was a massive stash of gold, silver, and garnet.
The total ended up over 3,500 fragments. Some of these could be assembled into whole objects. The filigree and cloisonné decorations were unbelievable. It painted a very different picture than previous finds.
First, there was no coins or women’s jewelry.
Instead, there were 300 sword-hilt fittings, 92 sword-pommel caps, and 10 scabbard pendants. Most were also bent or broken. Specialists surmised that it could be a ritualist burial of military gear, possibly sending it into the afterlife. But what about the present life?
Under any other circumstances, it would have been a simple matter of paying the one who discovered it. There were literally millions of pounds up for grabs.
However, the treasure was on Fred’s property. It was an awkward and tense dissuasion of who deserved what. In the end, they decided on the only fair division.
It was a 50/50 split as well as plenty of fame. Both men went about spending their fortune.
Terry bought a bungalow as well as celebrated a proper retirement instead of unemployment. Years passed. It should have been a happy time, but an old warning stuck in the back of Terry’s head.
There was a reason he hadn’t gone to his friend’s field years earlier.
“Five years before…I was warned off of it because I was told Fred would want all of anything that was found.” It was a simple warning that turned into a real curse for the pair. 2012 rolled around and the curse grew.
Archeologists took a second try at the property and found even more artifacts!
The scientific community was thrilled, but the two men rolled up their sleeves and prepared for another bitter financial battle. Terry no longer felt like he should have to share. Fred also had strong feelings about his ex-friend.
According to Fred, the event didn’t change him. He still spent time with the same people and friends.
People of the town shook his hand and congratulated him. According to him, there was only one real change. “Terry was never a friend, so I haven’t lost any friends.” Terry had a similar view.
He took the same stance but against Fred – claiming the money hadn’t changed him but had tainted his friend.
Time passed, and the feud only grew stronger. Both accused the other of being greedy, while both saying they wished they had never found it. What happened after things finally “settled down”?
Whenever someone writes Fred for permission to dig in his field, he throws the letters in the fire.
The backyard brings nothing but bad memories of turmoil and betrayal. “Sometimes I just wish one of the poor veterinary students had found it instead because it would have set them up for life rather than me.”
The interesting thing is that both say they regret the find. Both say they think the other is greedy.
They claim the money hasn’t changed them. They are also content remaining enemies for the rest of time. However… for such a “burden” both have kept their fortune when there were other options…
Fred could have donated something to a vet student. Terry could have donated to charity or funded archeological digs, maybe even used some to help the town.
Giving it away, never seem to cross their minds. In the end, it seems that the curse of greed has consumed them both.