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The crime committed by finding Knights Templar’s Crusader Coins in a field

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I know that my blog is focused upon finance, technology and the future, but there are moments where something hits you about the past and makes you consider it. This is one of those days.

I wrote some years ago about the creation of Switzerland being based upon the Knights Templar, which created a state that hates government control and also the fear of October 13th. If you didn’t read that post, here it is.

Why is this important today?

Well, the period this all happened around a millennia ago, was about the friction between Christians and Muslims, the Knights Templar versus the Arabic armies. It just shows that things don’t change as we still have those fights and frictions today.

The thing is, back then, is that they created a currency called Crusader Coins. A Glasgow University site gives great insight into this area:

The coins that were struck in these lands reflect a range of influences as the monetary worlds of European, Islamic and Byzantine states interacted across the Mediterranean. Coins were primarily used as a means of legal tender or exchange, but they also acted as expressions of power and symbols of authority. They supplied the ruling class with a unique way of expressing themselves and we can learn much about how they wanted to be seen by others and how they interacted with their subjects. This was especially important for the rulers of the crusader states who ruled over diverse populations including European settlers and native Muslims, Christians and Jews. In order to assert and express their authority over all their subjects, they merged coinage patterns found in Europe with those found in the Eastern Mediterranean.

I love this sort of history.

You can buy Crusader Coins quite easily today on various websites and they’re not so expensive. So here’s the deal.

You’re a guy looking for treasure using a metal detector. You do this as a hobby on a regular basis and some detectorists, as they are called, sometimes find a hidden trove of treasure.

There are many examples of this and my favourite recent example is a squashed, muddy piece of jewellery dug up in a field was found to be more than 400 years old and officially declared treasure.

But then, the other day, a detectorist found a secret hoard of Crusader Coins … or did he?

It turns out that detectorist Michael Jones from Port Talbot, Wales, was in a competition to find treasure in a field in Titley, Hertfordshire, about 75 miles away. Unbelievably, Mr Jones decided to buy a few Crusader Coins from eBay and planted them in the field before the competition started. He then found them with his metal detector and won the competition, organised by the KC Rallys Club.

But then other competitors questioned how there could be Crusader Coins in Titley, when they’ve never been found in that part of the world before. In fact, showing the competitiveness of detectorists, one of them found that five Crusader Coins had recently been purchased by a Mr Jones on eBay.

For me, that’s no big deal but, for the detectorist community, it’s huge and resulted in Michael Jones being arrested and put on trial at the Hereford magistrates court. Giving evidence at his trial, Jones said he pretended to find the coins “for the fame and bravado that goes with it … it was stupid, I know. It was a feel-good thing, I just wanted to make myself look good,” he said. “It was a moment of insanity, I just didn’t think.”

Magistrates said Jones had acted dishonestly but acquitted him of fraud by false representation, saying there was no proof he intended to make money from it. “You did make false representations, but the crown could not prove financial gain, therefore we find you not guilty,” Sue Furnival, the chairwoman of the magistrates, said.

Ah well, it just goes to show there’s history and his story.



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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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