Whatever our age, we all love the idea of buried treasure. There is something so romantic and exciting about finding something that’s been hidden for years. This summer indulge your inner child, or entertain your real children, by searching out some treasure hoards…
The Cornwall has its own magical tale of treasure. In 1774 some miners were streaming for tin on what would later become this estate. They found more than they were expecting when they struck a hoard consisting of silver chalice, scourge, pin box, two rings, a brooch, and fourteen coins among other ornamental pieces – the “Trewhiddle Hoard”.
The coins identified it as dating from around 875 AD; and over 1,000 years later in 1880, it was presented to the British Museum, one of the most important finds from this period. Why was such a valuable collection buried? It’s most likely that it was being hidden from Viking raiders, which definitely adds another layer of excitement to the story.
Legend has it that only half of the Trewhiddle Hoard was found, and that forms the basis of the story “A Rainy Day at Moor Cottage”. The heroine is a little girl named Gwendolyn Coode, who lived here in the late nineteenth century. Your young treasure seekers may not find the lost half of the hoard, but they can hunt for clues with our trail of the estate, and take home some booty in the form of an audiobook of Gwendolyn’s story.
Other Cornish treasure can be found at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro – one of our favourite rainy day places. There are some incredibly well preserved prehistoric and Romano-British finds, along with other nuggets of Cornish history from Neolithic tools to twentieth-century tourism. While you’re there, why not try searching out the café so you and your family can recharge? Treasure hunting is a tiring business!
But sometimes the best sorts of treasure are those thrilling little things that you find yourself. Beachcombing is one of those wonderful year-round activities – the joy of going home with pockets full of sandy riches is immeasurable. There is always a child-like sense of wonder in finding a mermaid’s purse, a cuttlefish or a shark’s tooth hiding in plain sight on the sand. How many different shells can you find? How many colours of sea glass? What’s the strangest shaped piece of driftwood? Have a look at “Beachcombing’s Bizarre and Beautiful” page on Facebook for inspirational photographs of shore discoveries (and an important environmental message).
When you’re five, finding a washed-up old chip fork on the beach is highly exciting. For us older combers, the tide brings in some amazing flotsam and jetsam; and none more so than the modern Legend of the Lego. In 1997 a container ship lost some cargo in a storm off Land’s End. Nearly 4.8 million pieces of Lego fell overboard, and several years later, bits are still washing up on Cornish beaches. Appropriately, the Lego cargo included 26,600 life preservers, 418,000 flippers and 97,500 pieces of scuba apparatus. The best beaches in Cornwall for Lego-spotting are around the Lizard, Gunwalloe and Perranporth. For general beachcombing, try Porthcothan on the north coast. Take a glass jar to keep your items in as a memento of your day.
The woodlands around The Cornwall can yield some lovely finds too. Grab a small, matchbox-sized container and see if the children can find ten teeny things that can fit in it. It’s amazing what tiny treasures you can find (staying clued up will keep you safe; read up on berries and mushrooms before you go). It may not be the Trewhiddle Hoard, but it’s yours, and becomes part of your own adventure story.
A feather, a pebble, an acorn, even a Lego dragon – all there waiting to be found.