Hunting for Galloonas in the Flatimore
In March 1911, a 'terrific blow' scoured out and stripped a considerable amount of sand off the Thorpeness beach. After the storm locals soon began to find coins (Galloonas) and other curiosities on the exposed clay (the Flatimore). 110 coins were collected, 86 of which proved to be of trifling value, and many medieval objects.
The individuals involved in this find we're coastguard men William Overed and Charles Thomas Newman, and fishermen and other inhabitants, William Rolfe, Percy and George Westrop, Harry Shipp, William Knights, Henry Harling and Alfred Alexander.
News of the find quickly spread and journalists called it the 'East Coast Klondyke' and it was reported that hundreds of people poured into the Aldeburgh and Thorpeness area in the hope of finding more treasure.
A great argument arose as to who rightfully owned the finds and the Coroners Jury was convened and a Treasure Trove inquest was held on April 14th 1911. It was held at the Aldeburgh Moot Hall and the coroner, Mr. A. F. Vulliamy officiated at the meeting. The point was to decide whether the finds fell from the cliffs, or were washed up by the tide, if it was the latter then the relics would be treasure trove and the property of the Crown, obviously the individuals involved in the finds felt they had a strong claim, also Mr. Stuart Ogilvie, the landowner, had an interest.
The chief expert witness for the Crown was Miss N.F. Layard F.L.S., a well known local archaeologist. Four claimants were represented in the crowded audience that filled the Moot Hall, but strange to say, the fishermen themselves led by Mr. Alfred Alexander, who found the relics, seemed to be left out of the questions altogether. They were clearly puzzled for they had a vague feeling that 'first finders' also had their rights, especially when the objects were picked up on a highway to which they had never been forbidden access.
Despite it being seen that the archaeologist, Nina Layard, was really on the side of the fishermen, and after the officials had argued over the finds it was decided that they were the property of the Receiver of Wrecks. Some items were eventually sent back to the Moot Hall and displayed there.
With thanks to the Aldeburgh Moot Hall Museum for their permission to recount this episode in the history of Thorpeness.