Money ‘Growing’ on Trees and Detectorists Rooting About!

20th March 2017 — 10 Comments

“I Won’t Tell You Again!”

If your parents were anything like mine, they probably told you a million times when you were growing up that money doesn’t grow on trees. It was a hard lesson, but the meaning was simple – it’s not easy to get money and my father had to work hard to make money. You can’t just walk around and pick it like fruit from the trees.

In 2010 an Australian bank actually covered a tree in $5 bills and people were filmed to see how they would react to such an unbelievable sight. Believe it or not, the first 100 or so people who walked by the money ignored it. Some of them didn’t even notice there was anything odd. A group of joggers was to busy running to stop and check it out, and passers-by who did stop to analyse it, just took pictures and left empty handed. Strange.


Eventually a brave soul seized the opportunity to fill his pockets and then there was a feeding frenzy. People didn’t believe their luck. Evidently the experiment was to show how Australians missed out on billions by leaving their money in deposits that paid small interests.

At around the same time an English newspaper carried a story questioning the fact that money doesn’t grow on trees and the strange phenomenon of gnarled old trees with coins embedded all over their bark had been spotted on trails from the Peak District to the Scottish Highlands. Evidently, the coins are usually knocked into felled tree trunks using stones by passers-by, who hope it will bring them good fortune. You can check the story out HERE.

Image Credit Flickr User Paul Morris

Close up it seems as if the coins have almost merged with the wood, but that is the effect of the weather upon the metal. Some suggest that the reason money is pushed in to the bark is more than just a desire to increase one’s wealth. It is thought that the amount of coins pushed in by an individual may result in them producing the same number of children when their natural fecundity finds a partner.


But, one of the best stories concerned my Swedish friend Michael Lander and Peter Walpole ( L ) who extracted an Elizabethan coin that had been embedded in the roots of a tree. Thrilling stuff and very unusual!

Peter ( L ) and Michael


My name is Peter Walpole and I have a remarkable tale to tell you. On the final day of this year’s Corfe gathering with the Minelab Owners gang I got chatting to Michael, a Swedish detectorist, who told me he had found a number of Roman coins in the woods the day before and also of a good signal he hadn’t been able to retrieve.  We decided to head up there for a few hours and see what we could find!

After half an hour or so of digging (mainly shotgun caps) Michael showed me where he found the positive signal. He was using the X-Terra 705 and said it was very clear, so I ran over it with my Explorer SE and confirmed that it was very ‘diggable’!

Michael had dug down and hit a tree root about as thick as my leg. On one side was an inch deep depression and when pinpointed with my Garret pro pointer it was obvious the find was embedded inside the root itself. Our first thought was a musket ball stuck in the wood but curiosity got the better of me and I soon had my head in the hole.

As I scraped the mud away with my knife I could see a flash of silver. A little more work revealed an edge piece of something round with distinct Medieval style edge markings. It was obviously much bigger than we could see and I knew we had to retrieve it.

A quick chat with Michael revealed he was as keen and curious as me and we agreed there was no way we could leave it there so the excavation began. At this point I remembered I had my Flip video camera in my pocket so began taking some clips so we could relive the adventure later. You can see the video here.

Soon the hole was much larger but we quickly realised the knife would take many hours to cut deep enough into the root and so I returned to my car to get my new digging tool (designed for removing tiles and tree roots) which had been bought with Corfe’s flinty soil in mind. The purchase at the time had seemed like overkill, but now was perfect for the job.

Meanwhile Michael had removed all the soil from the sides of the large root.  By using the digger like an axe we decided to chop down either side of the find so as not to damage it and took it in turns to build up a healthy sweat. Soon the woodchips were flying.

By now we had been digging for well over half an hour and after a few heart-in-mouth moments when the chopper got a bit close for comfort, the wood above our find was free. Michael grabbed the camera and I prised the last piece away to reveal a large silver coin.  

The Elizabeth I Sixpence found by Peter and Michael

Rubbing the dirt off with my shaking hands I could see the date 1569… It was an Elizabeth I sixpence! I had found several hammered silver before but it was Michael’s first and what a great coin. After a rest and lots of laughs re watching the videos we checked the roots.

Fortunately there was still far more remaining than we had chopped out so hopefully the tree will recover; the hole was refilled and two very knackered but happy detectorists continued on their way. This was without doubt one of my favourite moments in four years of detecting. Big thanks to all those involved in organising Corfe and of course Michael for sharing the adventure.

‘Tree Root Adventure’ has been adapted from a story previously published in The Searcher magazine


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10 responses to Money ‘Growing’ on Trees and Detectorists Rooting About!

  1. Good one John, and Yes that must be a saying world wide of parents lOL

  2. Very cool story John… And yes.. I well remember my parents saying that very thing to me


  3. Hi John..
    Reminds me of a signal i got under an old oak tree ….I dug down about eight inches..Under roots and manage to find it…..It was a modern 20 P…..The mysteries of detecting..

  4. Great story!

  5. I’m going to send that picture to my mom, and tell her she lied to me all those years. Hahaha

    What a great story, and nice to see strangers working together for a common goal.

  6. Thanks for another interesting post I remember The story in the Searcher but it is the first time I have seen the video.
    As for our childhood encounters with parents tales which were all supposed to make us aware of how scarce money was, and again the same thing was repeated time after time.

  7. I am gobsmacked that an Australian bank would actually give away $5.00 notes. They are certainly not noted for their generosity.

    The tree root is a great story. Had a similar incident myself, but the coin was a very worn George iii penny.

  8. A great story John, thank you.

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