Gold Coins Found In Piano
Treasure inquest: Thursday 20 April 2017
Statement from The Community College Bishop’s Castle
Kathy Dowbiggin, Business Manager at The Community College Bishop’s Castle, said:
“Monday 21 November 2016 started as a day like any other at The Community College Bishop’s Castle – but turned out to be anything but.
“The discovery of hundreds of gold coins in a piano was incredible, exciting and almost unbelievable – and meant it was a day that none of us will ever forget.
“It was during the summer term in 2016 that The Community College appealed to the local community for the donation of any unwanted pianos, as the school did not have enough pianos that students could use for lessons or practice. We were extremely grateful to receive several donations, with the final piano arriving in September. On 21 November that we invited a piano tuner (Mr Backhouse) to visit the school to review and possibly tune four of the donated pianos. He felt that one of the pianos had particular potential and set to work. A short while later he informed me and the headteacher that he’d discovered several small packages concealed under the piano’s keys. We opened one of them and found that it contained a number of coins, which we agreed were gold sovereigns.
“Clearly this was something that none of could possibly have imagined and it’s hard to describe how we felt on making this discovery. After the initial shock, surprise and excitement, we had to quickly decide what to do next. We photographed the packages in situ, numbered and photographed each package, and placed them in the school safe. After carrying out some internet-based research into gold sovereign and the Treasures Act 1986 we agreed that the coins were a significant find and should be reported to the coroner. Shortly after contacting the coroner’s office we were contacted by Peter Reavill [Shropshire’s finds liaison officer], who was working on the coroner’s behalf. In this conversation and a subsequent meeting we discussed the find, the Treasures Act, and how the piano was acquired. Peter confirmed that the coins were genuine and took them away for safe-keeping… and began the investigations that led us to where we are today.
“If the school were to be a beneficiary from the find, then we think it’s only right and fair that the money be used to benefit our students and the local community of Bishop’s Castle.”
The College would llike to extend its thanks to Mr Peter Reavill for his help and support during the past six months. Peter, who works for the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme based in Ludlow, has supplied invaluable knowledge and expertise in relation to this discovery. We look forward to working with Peter further as he will be conducting presentations to the students at the College and its Community.
Local MP Philip Dunne welcomed news that the Community College in Bishop's Castle may benefit from sharing a reward for finding a spectacular treasure of gold coins. During routine tuning and cleaning of a piano donated to the Community College last September, several packages of gold sovereigns were found hidden under the keyboard.
Mr Dunne said today: "I have seen the hoard of gold coins, and was astonished to discover they had been found secreted for decades in a piano in my constituency. Whoever placed them there had clearly intended these coins would not be found lightly. So full credit to the piano tuner for revealing the hoard through his diligent inspection. I have not seen pure gold coins before, other than in a museum, so was startled to see what good condition they are in. I am delighted that Bishop's Castle Community College may become a beneficiary by way of reward for helping bring this treasure to light. This is another sample of what makes South Shropshire so special - it is not only a great place to live, but also a safe place to hide treasure!"