A hoard of 122 rare Anglo-Saxon pennies buried in 1066 when William the Conqueror invaded are expected to fetch up to £180,000 at auction.

The exceptionally rare collection includes coins which were minted in Worcester and were buried in a field in Braintree, Essex.

One possible theory that the owner died fighting in the Battle of Hastings.

The two detectorists, who have been searching together for 20 years, had only found copper coins and crotal bells previously on the field when they came across their breathtaking find.

Their luck began in February 2019 when their metal detector revealed that at a depth of only four inches there was a silver penny that was not recognisable.

Worcester News: COINS: The exceptionally rare collection was buried in a field in Braintree, EssexCOINS: The exceptionally rare collection was buried in a field in Braintree, Essex (Image: SWNS)

Half a dozen more turned up in a 30-metre radius and that evening they realised they were rare pennies of Harold II, famously killed at the Battle of Hastings.

Over the next few days around 70 more were found by slow and methodical use of the detectors which was then repeated in 2020 with another 70 coins uncovered.

The detectorists found 144 coins in total that date from the last two Anglo-Saxon kings of England: Edward the Confessor and Harold II Godwinsson.

It is thought that the hoard was buried during the course of the year 1066 – within five years of all bar two of the coins being minted.

These coins had been minted in various towns and cities including Worcester as well as from London, Cambridge and Canterbury to Ipswich, Chichester, Guildford as well as rare mints such as Sudbury in Suffolk and Bridport in Dorset.

The collection includes an exceptionally rare coin from Hastings, which is only the second to appear at public auction in the last 40 years, with the other being sold in September 2023 for a hammer price of £20,000.

Colchester Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge decided to buy 16 coins between them from the hoard.

The remainder of the collection was returned to the finders, and 122 will be offered for sale at Noonans Mayfair at 4pm on Wednesday, February 21, 2024.

The proceeds made will be shared between the two finders and the landowner.

Worcester News:

Noonans coin specialist Bradley Hopper said: "While the deposition of the Braintree Hoard might not relate directly to the events of 1066, the fact that it was never recovered surely did.

"Twelve shillings was a considerable sum of money, and its retrieval must have been prevented by some great personal misfortune; we cannot say with any certainty whether or not the Braintree hoard’s owner died fighting at Hastings, but it is a tantalising possibility.

"We are particularly fortunate that the auction catalogue contains not only the rarest and most academically interesting English coins from the Braintree Hoard, but also those pieces in the finest state of preservation.”