A woman scavenging on the beach was lucky enough to discover a wooden treasure chest containing about 100 ancient coins and gems dating back to the Middle Ages.

A woman scavenging on the beach was lucky enough to discover a wooden treasure chest containing about 100 ancient coins and gems dating back to the Middle Ages.

Collecting rubbish from the beach should be reward enough in itself.

But one collector left with a bonus after finding a real-life wooden treasure chest.

Around 100 old coins, gems, a rusted pocket watch and a signet ring were in the chest found by Jennie Fitzgerald.

‘I’ve never found anything like this on a beach before. Normally I’m looking for sea glass and shells, so it was incredible,’ said Mrs Fitzgerald, 38.

Around 100 old coins, gems, a rusted pocket watch and a signet ring were in the chest found by Jennie Fitzgerald, pictured

‘We found about 100 coins, mostly Victorian and some dated to George III’s reign, but some looked Roman and there were a couple of medieval groats,’ said medical secretary Mrs Fitzgerald

‘It was just pure chance that I stumbled across the chest. I thought it was a piece of driftwood at first but then I saw the top of it.’

She found the hoard between Cart Gap and Happisburgh while out with the North Norfolk Beach Cleans group on March 20.

The 10in box was at the bottom of a low cliff, hidden behind a sandbank.

Mrs Fitzgerald believes it was unearthed by a recent cliff fall. ‘It was covered in sand but is in fairly good condition, considering how old it is,’ she said.

Her husband James, 40, an IT consultant, helped her bring the 3lb chest back home to Norwich, where children Harrison, nine, and Darcey, six, helped clean away the sand using old toothbrushes.

She found the hoard between Cart Gap and Happisburgh while out with the North Norfolk Beach Cleans group on March 20

‘I’ve never found anything like this on a beach before. Normally I’m looking for sea glass and shells, so it was incredible,’ said Mrs Fitzgerald, 38. Pictured, some of the treasures found on her excursion

‘We found about 100 coins, mostly Victorian and some dated to George III’s reign, but some looked Roman and there were a couple of medieval groats,’ said medical secretary Mrs Fitzgerald.

They also found an ornate perfume bottle, an iron key and a silver matchstick holder engraved with the name Ernest.

The chest will be handed to Norfolk County Council today and could be referred to a coroner to determine who benefits from it.

Mrs Fitzgerald added: ‘The finds liaison officer thinks it’s more historical value but my kids think they’re going to be rich.

‘Their imaginations have been running wild. Harrison thought he was dreaming. He wants the best Lego set.’

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