This week, I thought we could all use a break from all the craziness surrounding Brexit (I can’t keep up!) so I’ve gone back to my childhood dreams of Indiana Jones, The Goonies, Lara Croft and the like – in search of treasure!
Did you know that there are still enthusiasts who spend their free time attempting to strike it rich by digging up buried treasure, or sifting through chilly streams in search of a few grains of gold here in the UK? Ok, so packing in your day job and heading to the hills with a pickaxe, metal detector, or sieve may be a little far-fetched - but for some people, gold mining is an interesting pastime.
Mining in the UK
I always assumed that the gold we have here in the UK has been imported, but here’s a little ‘nugget’ of information for you - gold and other precious metals have actually been mined here for thousands of years since the time of the Romans. Historically, gold has been sourced in parts of Wales, Scotland, and South-West England.
In Cornwall, the South Croft mine was once a tin mine until traces of gold were found after exploratory drilling and is now believed to be possibly more gold-rich than some of the most famous mines in California. In Northern Ireland, there is said to be an estimated 15-20 million ounces of gold at Clontibret in County Monaghan, worth around £11 billion.
There are many gold prospectors who spend their free time panning for gold within the streams of the UK, hoping to unearth a few tiny grains or flakes of the yellow metal. Gold panning is treated as a hobby by most who take up the pastime, as deposits, if found, are usually on a granular level and nuggets are seriously rare. The thrill of the treasure hunt, and a love of the countryside are enough to draw in those who enjoy this hobby, as unless you’re extraordinarily lucky, it’s unlikely you’ll make your fortune.
Experts say that the best chance of finding gold in the UK is down in Devon, Cornwall and the Lake District. Here, the old rocks are older and are more likely to have the calcite veins and quartz from which grains of gold can be eroded.
Like gold panning, there are enthusiasts who spend their weekends out in the fresh British air hunting for treasure, hoping to unearth something of value. Some great finds have been discovered in the most random locations, after hoards were buried for people to go back and collect them. You never know your luck - once in a while stashes of ancient gold coins from the Romans are found at sites around the UK via metal detection.
The appropriately named ‘Dollar Cove’ on the Cornish coast is one example of where treasure hunters have successfully discovered the numerous silver coins that have been washed up on shore from a shipwrecked Spanish galleon, that was reported to have been carrying two and a half tons of silver dollars destined for the Bank of England in 1787.
The biggest and most valuable gold nugget ever found in the UK was discovered near a shipwreck off the coast of Anglesey. Around the size of a chicken egg, this nugget was worth an estimated £50,000! Another nugget worth around £50,000 was discovered on a riverbed somewhere in Scotland - although the exact whereabouts of the river are top secret.
A metal detectorist once dug up a gold nugget worth approximately £4,000 in Westward Ho!
Realistically though, the chance of striking it rich from hunting down gold is very slim, yet the fascination with the hunt is no-doubt a thrilling one! There’s something special about the idea of striking gold, even the tiniest gold flake, to a wannabe Lara Croft like myself - but I guess the dream of finding enough treasure to pay off the mortgage is not likely to be realised!
I don’t think I’ll pack in the day job and head for the hills, just yet.
This blog represents one person’s opinion only. Customers should conduct their own research and take advice before making an investment. We do not offer investment advice.