An ‘excessively rare’ silver penny found on a successful family metal detecting trip in Oxfordshire has sold for £6,000 at auction.

The 900-year-old coin was discovered by 64-year-old landscaper John Denham in a farmer’s field in Wallingford while out metal detecting with his sons, Simon, 39, and Steven Denham, 31, sold for £6,000 to a UK buyer at Hansons Auctioneers on Monday.

Hansons’ Historica expert Adam Staples said: “It was an exceptional coin of great historical significance and it deserved to do extremely well. I am delighted for the family of keen metal detectorists who found it.”

Historians said the coin was issued by Henry of Anjou c. 1139-48, the penny was struck during the Anarchy, a brutal civil war which saw Henry and his mother, Empress Matilda, wrest control of South-Western England away from King Stephen.

On December 19, 1154, in the wake of Stephen’s death, he was finally crowned Henry II of England.

Oxford Mail:

The metal detecting family had no idea just how valuable the coin was when it was unearthed.

John Denham, who lives near Wallingford, said: “It was September, and we were out metal detecting as a family.

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"We go out most weekends. We decided to revisit one of our favourite haunts and had been out for around five hours when my detector gave the signal. The coin was buried about four inches deep in the soil.

“We thought this penny might be something special but, once it had been identified and recorded, we were still surprised to learn how valuable it was.”

Oxford Mail:

Mr Staples said: “The Corpus of Early Medieval Coin Finds at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has recorded only nine other coins of Henry’s 'Round Cap' type - two cut halfpennies, five incomplete coins and two full pennies.

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“John’s coin is the only complete example recorded where both the mint town and name of the moneyer can be read. The reverse of the penny tells us that it was made by Robertus at the Wallingford mint, a moneyer who was not previously known to have minted coins there. This makes it excessively rare.”

The family, all from South Oxfordshire, have made some fascinating finds over the years including a rare Saxon brooch, but say the coin is not about the money and that the discovery of the 900-year-old coin is extra special.

Oxford Mail:

Simon Denham, a landscaper, said: “Dad found the coin with a metal detector I gifted him.

"As a family, we’re passionate about metal detecting. We’re a team. We’re in it purely for the enjoyment of making the finds.

" It’s a reward seeing them come out of the ground. It’s not about money.

"This is the first thing we’ve ever decided to sell and we’re only doing that because the coin is so important.”

John started metal detecting in the early 1980s with a £99.99 detector and inspired his sons to follow in his footsteps.

He said: “The field where I found it had recently been ploughed and planted.

"Many ancient coins get damaged by farming machinery, so finding a coin as old as this in such good condition was pretty remarkable.”

The £6,000 from the sale will be split evenly between the family and the land owner.