The day Spanish treasure washed up at Seaton Carew, and hundreds went to collect it
Imagine it. A complete Spanish treasure trove littered across a Hartlepool beach.
Silver coins, precious rings and a crucifix were all found on one amazing night in Seaton Carew and hundreds of locals turned up to collect it.
It might be the stuff of story books but this is a true tale.
Historian and researcher Graeme Harper tells us more.
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Stormy weather and heavy seas. Not the greatest of conditions but it was the perfect storm which led to a remarkable discovery on a stretch of beach near Seaton Carew.
The surface sand had been blown away revealing something completely unexpected beneath.
A group of men began poking in the newly-exposed peat with their sticks and were shocked to find a treasure trove of silver coins that had
lain hidden under the sand for nearly 40 years.
The coins were Spanish dollars -’pieces of eight ‘- and word soon got round about the riches to be found. Hundreds of locals descended to take advantage.
People searched throughout the night using lamps until all of the of dollars had been pocketed.
And it wasn’t just coins that ended up in the hands of the lucky locals: precious rings and a gold crucifix were also amongst other artefacts found.
The treasure dated back to the times of King Charles III and IV of Spain, who between them reigned from 1759 to 1804. It was thought to be the result of a shipwreck in October 1829 when a vessel called The Duck ran aground.
The story was that it had previously been a slave ship belonging to Spanish owners but had been captured by the English and subsequently based in London.
After becoming wrecked the Duck was sold to Messers Sheraton, Whitelock and Thomson before being broken up. It was only then that it was found to have a stash of Spanish dollars concealed within in its timbers. Quite how a some of the coins ended up being buried in the sand is not clear.
One prospector was said to have found £6 of coins in a single piece of peat – about £750 today – whilst another claimed to have found 80 or 90. It is likely that most , if not all, of the treasure hunters that night came away with a welcome windfall.
Our thanks go to Graeme for a wonderful tale from Hartlepool’s past. Why not take a look at some of the others he has shared with us.
And who remembers the one about the Hartlepool hermit who lived in a wooden hut with a dog and a monkey for company?
Another great tale concerned the Hartlepool store which had its own zoo, complete with anteaters and baby kangaroos.
Do you have a tale to share from Hartlepool’s past? Tell us more by emailing [email protected]