Valuable 14th century coins found by couple walking in West Bohemia

Kladruby Abbey, photo: Zdeňka Kuchyňová

The Museum of West Bohemia in Plzeň has announced the discovery of hundreds of silver and gold coins from the 14th century. The treasure, unearthed in a forest near the Kladruby Monastery in the region of Tachov, is believed to be one of the biggest troves of gold coins unearthed on the territory of the Czech Republic.

Photo: ČTK / Miroslav Chaloupka

The chance discovery occurred already in March, during the coronavirus lockdown, but it was not until this Monday that the museum announced the find to the public. The coins were stumbled upon by a young couple who went on a walk through the forest near the West Bohemian town of Stříbro.

Milan Metlička is an archaeologist from the Museum of West Bohemia in Plzeň:

“As they were walking through the forest, they spotted a few coins, two made of gold and one of silver, lying on the ground. They were probably dug up by some forest animals, most likely by wild pigs.

“There was a large stone protruding from the ground. When they pulled it out, they saw a large amount of gold and silver coins underneath and they immediately called us to announce the discovery.”

Among the coins are gold ducats bearing the image of the Czech King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, Albrecht of Austria and Rupert of the Palatinate as well as ducats from the Hanseatic city of Lübeck.

“It also contains 343 silver groschen mostly minted in Bohemia during the reign of Charles IV and several groshen bearing the image of John of Bohemia, the Duke of Luxembourg.

Milan Metlička,  photo: ČTK / Miroslav Chaloupka

“The discovery of the silver groshen is not that unusual. But such a large trove of gold coins is really unique. No such discovery was made in the country in the past 50 years.”

Archaeologists believe the coins were buried in the ground in the late 1370s. While the reason why someone hid the treasure is likely to remain unknown, it was most likely linked to the nearby Monastery in Kladruby.

“The monastery was located on a strategic medieval trade route between Prague and Nürnberg. And since the discovery was made not far from there and close to the royal town of Stříbro, it is very likely that it is somehow connected to it.”

Museum of West Bohemia in Plzeň,  photo: Miloš Turek

According to Mr Metlička, it is hard to express the value of the find in terms of money, but the nominal value of the gold coins, which weigh over 325 grams, is at least CZK 420,000.

“With the silver coins, it is more complicated, because they also contain copper, which reduced their value. However, the historic value of the silver coins could be around CZK 180,000 and the value of the gold coins could range between CZK three and four million.”

The coins are expected to go on display in the Museum of West Bohemia in Plzeň at the end of this year or at the beginning of next year, after they have been restored and catalogued.