Hunter Finds An Ancient Burial Chain – It Filled His Life With New Meaning

By: Lauren Wurth | Last updated: Nov 06, 2023

Buried and hidden treasures may be something heard of in legends and movies, but treasure hunting still exists. Whether as a profession or a hobby, every treasure hunter’s dream is to discover and recover buried artifacts with a market value that can change the course of their lives.

Like most hunters who set out on a buried treasure hunt, Mike Smith of Pembrokeshire, Wales, went to work one fateful day with his metal detector. What he found turned his world upside down.

The Curious Mind of Mike Smith

Meet Mike Smith, a Pembrokeshire local. Mike is a man with curious genes who had a knack for metal detecting and searching for buried treasures. 

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Almost every treasure hunter’s passion for discovering hidden wonders stems from their childhood—Mike is no exception. At the tender age of 12, he discovered his love for metal detecting after he was gifted a detector as a Christmas present from his father.

The Hope of Striking Gold

Since he was little, Mike had dreamt of stumbling upon gold, although he knew the chances were slim. While he had read of other people’s finds and watched them on television, he believed his day would come.

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Like other detectorists, Mike has to brave all kinds of terrain and weather in his quest. He also deals with much disappointment as he rarely finds anything of value other than junk or trash. Still, he was hopeful.

One Fateful Dreary Day Unlike Any Other

In February 2018, it was a rainy day like any other as Mike ventured off to the farmland in the south of the county in search of treasure. The hunter had become accustomed to searching under various weather conditions, so the grey and rainy weather couldn’t deter his mission.

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As he trudged through the rain and mud absentmindedly, swinging his metal detector back and forth in hope of finding something buried, a loud beep erupted from his device. His curiosity was piqued, pulsing adrenaline through his veins and jolting him from his wandering mind.

Curiosity Killed the Cat, But Satisfaction Brought it Back

Following the furious beeping of his machine, Mike was excited to find out what triggered the sound. He believed he would see to the end of this mission a few feet below where he stood. 

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Moving his detector over the wet soil, he never imagined that he would dig up a mind-blowing treasure or even have to involve the authorities. They say curiosity killed the cat, but in Mike’s case, the satisfaction of the find was overwhelming.

Combing the Entire Field

Mike felt his heart racing as he combed through the entire field with his metal detector. Usually, when someone moves away from the find, the beeping of the device gets fainter until it stops completely.

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However, this detectorist’s case was different. Weirdly, his detector beeped louder as he walked further away from the initial beep position. Confused at this, he only assumed his gear was malfunctioning or something very big was underneath the field.

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The Floodgates Open: Starting the Dig

With his imagination running wild, Mike had no choice but to trust his gut feeling. He couldn’t ignore that there was a chance of finding something incredible beneath the ground. 

Source: Mike Smith/Twitter

Wielding his handy shovel, he started digging in the moist soil in search of buried treasure. The dirt did not stand a chance, as not long after, he had dug a foot-wide hole about two feet deep. Still, he had no clue about what he was about to unearth.

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The First Significant Discovery

It wasn’t as if this area was new to Mike. He had scouted the space for treasure in the past, only to dig up old pennies of little or no value. But this time around, he didn’t dig up valueless pennies or animal bones.

Source: Mike Smith/Twitter

Instead, he stumbled on something more precious. With great care, he removed the small, round object which looked like a coin. As he scraped off the dirt from its surface, an engraving appeared.

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No Time to Settle on the First Artifact

Perplexed, he turned the object both ways multiple times to make sense of what it was. He noticed a figure engraved on one side while the other side displayed a message. When he noticed a ring attached to the top of the object, he knew this was no coin.

Source: Detecting Downunder/Facebook

It seemed as though the object had been connected to a chain or clip at some point. However, Mike did not dwell on this relic for long, as something else in the dirt caught his attention.

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The Object Won’t Move!

While Mike found it easy to unearth the first artifact, the second object was putting up a fight. It was buried deep and wouldn’t budge. Putting his shovel aside, the enthusiast started to dig further with his hands, hoping to reach the depth at which the mystery item was stuck.

Source: iStock Photos

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t give even after he tried to get a better hold by sitting back on his heels. Regardless, Mike wasn’t one to give up.

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Back to the Drawing Board

Burrowing deeper, Mike was relentless in prying out the mysterious object. From the outward look, this rusty piece of metal didn’t appear extra heavy. Since his efforts weren’t leading anywhere, he decided to map out another strategy.

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Getting back on his knees, he started removing the soil around the relic. He figured shaking off the earth around the object would make it easier to yank it off the ground. Unfortunately, life isn’t that easy.

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Can’t Give Up Now

In his second attempt at moving the soil, he could detect that the mysterious object was attached to something. What could it be? What was so heavy underneath this soil that no matter how much he tried he couldn’t move it even one inch? What other mystery did the submerged earth hold?

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With so many nagging questions begging for answers, he continued to dig deeper. What he discovered hidden deep in the field left him stunned.

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Unraveling the Mystery

As he dug around the immovable object, he discovered a second and a third object. In that eureka moment, he realized the round objects were actually links. As he continued to unearth these strange links, the chain seemed endless.

Source: KSC/YouTube

However, he continued digging until he found the end of the old chain. As he pondered the mystery he had stumbled upon, night came and he had to call it a day.

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Had He Discovered the Ancient Pembrokeshire Burial Chambers?

Laying in bed that night, Mike was devoid of sleep as he replayed the events of the day over and over again in his head. Could it be that he had unearthed something dangerous that could cause him unthinkable damage?

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Certainly the chains would not be buried in the farmland without reason, right? A while ago, he had come across news about Pembrokeshire and the ancient burial chambers beneath it. Had he discovered one of the burial sites?

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Back At It At the Crack of Dawn

At the break of dawn, the curious hunter set out to the mystery site in search of answers. However, he feared that the authorities would soon gain knowledge of his discovery. 

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Fortunately, the site remained untouched, just as he left it. With that, he was assured no one was snooping around his recently discovered treasure. With this peace of mind, he started his second day of digging.

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The Ground Burst Open Under Him

As he got to digging, more strange links resurfaced from underneath, and his eyes caught something weird. There was a hole beneath the chain, and believing it would help the leverage, Mike instantly put his shovel down.

Source: iStock Photos

Immediately as he dropped his shovel into the hole, the earth burst open beneath his feet. In a flash, Mike slipped, crashing into the ground, barely making a landing a few feet below. Thankfully, he sustained no injuries.

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Discovery of Bizarre Markings in Underground Cavern

Using the flashlight in his backpack, Mike realized he hadn’t fallen into a regular hole but an underground cavern. Upon close observation of the ground, walls, and roofs, fear gripped the curious hunter’s heart because what he found was scary.

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Almost all the cavern’s walls bore bizarre scatch-like markings. As he moved his fingers over the etchings, the pattern formed the text, “VV.” Shocking, this enscription had been repeated multiple times around the walls.

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Following the Patterns

The mysterious VV markings looked like someone had nervously scratched the symbols on the walls. Puzzled by these findings, Mike decided to follow the markings. His curious nature led him to yet another hold in the cavern. However, just by the entrance lay something concealed in the mud.

Source: Ancient Origins

Mustering the courage to scrape off the mud from his new discovery, he found a hard brown-colored mass. Staring at it in shock, he realized the object was a human molar.

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Time To Call the Authorities

Realizing the severity of the situation, Mike had no choice but to alert the authorities about his findings. He knew there were laws associated with such discoveries. His love for metal detecting led him to a terrifying discovery of human body parts and he had to call for help.

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He immediately rushed to find his cell phone and called the officials at the National Museum of Wales, but their reaction was unexpected.

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No Laughing Matter

To his dismay, the officials found it hard to believe his story and instead started to laugh at him. In an interview, Mike said, “What the archaeologists said at the time was that because there had never been a find down here before, they didn’t believe it.”

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However, it dawned on him that he forgot to disclose his findings about the human remains. Once he had laid out all the details, the officials changed their tone to grim.

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Finally Time to Find Answers to Lingering Questions

Seeing is believing, and in this case, Mike told the officials his location and awaited their arrival. When the archeologists and museum officials arrived at the site, they were in complete awe. In an interview, Mike commented that the look on their faces was pretty wild.

Source: Detecting Downunder/Facebook

He was pleased that they finally trusted his words and was equally glad to be rescued from the hole. It was finally time to excavate the site with professionals and get some answers.

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Unearthing Two Rusted Chariot Wheels

The officials initiated the artifact removal and evaluation process four months after the discovery by Mike Smith. Combining expert knowledge, intricate plans, and proper equipment, the archeologists found two rusted chariot wheels. 

Source: Wikipedia

Mike was left in disbelief. It never occurred to him that his little discovery would lead to such an important find. To many treasure hunters, artifact discoveries on this scale remain an unfulfilled lifelong dream.

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Identifying the Findings

The initial discovery of the ancient rusted chain had been of great confusion to Mike. Never did he think he would know what it was used for or originally attached to. But all that changed thanks to experts.

Source: Did You Know?/YouTube

In an interview, he said, “My first find was a Celtic horse harness junction piece. When I found it, my friends said I would never top it. But the next day I went back and found the rest.”

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Identification of the Marked Symbols

According to Archeologist Rachel Hall, the connected “VV” markings on the walls is known as “witch mark,” and they were drawn to prevent witches from entering the premises. The specific markings discovered by Mike are called “Marian marks.”

Source: Museum Crush

They’re believed to be the initials of the Virgin Mary and are meant to protect the site of markings. However, the frantically scribbled symbols in the cavern meant suggested that some bizarre events happened in Pembrokeshire ages ago. 

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Perhaps It Was A Portal to Hell

Another archeologist, Alison Fearn, explained that the 14th and 18th-century markings were the local’s way of shielding the earth against demons. Since they were carved into the cavern’s surface, it was not hard to believe. Townfolks also assumed the entrance was a doorway to hell.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Another theory about the markings was that Pembrokeshire was battling famine, poverty, and disease at that time. A retired professor of the New Testament Language and Literature, John Charlesworth, explains that the townspeople were probably consumed by superstitions.

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Understanding Ancient Traditions

While the townfolks thought the cave harbored evil beings, either a queen or a chieftain had been put to rest there with their chariot. Archeologists believe the chariots go as far back as 2,500 years. What Mike believed to have been human remains weren’t human after all.

Source: Facebook

The teeth Mike found were of the queen’s or chieftain’s horses buried alongside them. After extended research, it was discovered that during the Iron Age, it was customary to bury high-ranking nobles with their possessions.

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Leveled Out Ground

Mike believes that the high-ranking official was buried within the chariot, their body sitting straight as opposed to the burial next to the chariot. Furthermore, there would have been heaps of dirt accumulated over the chariot, but it had leveled out long ago.

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Mike was still unable to fathom that with just a metal detector and his gut feelings, he was able to unearth a rich history.

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Discovery of a Ditch Ring

The museum officials sealed off the site from the public so they could study it further with advanced technology. Considering the small artifacts Mike discovered, a ground-penetrating radar looming over the farm seemed necessary. 

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After a survey of the land, a 12-meter circle surrounding the site, which can be described as a ditch ring, was uncovered. Interestingly, there were numerous rings. Following this discovery, they concluded that Mike had happened upon a Celtic settlement that had gone unnoticed for hundreds of years.

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The Importance of the Revelation

The Museum of Wales has a lot planned for Mike’s discovered site. The museum spokesperson said that a preliminary excavation was jointly carried out on the site of the artifacts by Dyfed Archaeological Trust and Amgueddfa Cymru over the summer.

Source: Wikipedia

The organization planned to create a wider museum project to encourage the involvement of locals in revealing stories of prehistoric times. Many museums approached Mike to buy his discoveries, and he became the center of archaeological focus everywhere.

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An Expensive Affair

Apart from the ditch ring burial sites, the metal detector enthusiasts uncovered about 34 other objects. Proud of his discovery, Mike said, “I still can’t believe it. Obviously, I’ve read of other people’s finds. I’ve watched them on the telly, and I’ve always thought, I wouldn’t mind finding that—it’s still surreal, and life-changing.”

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The principal curator of prehistory archaeology at the National Museum of Wales, Adam Gwit issued a statement that a full excavation would be done, but it would require hefty funding. So, Gwit and his team have been collaborating with partners for further investigation into the site and the found artifacts.

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Mike Smith’s Compensation

Finally, for his hard work and resilience, Mike will be receiving a hefty award for his historic find. Although by law, he is expected to share his findings with the landowner, his reward is pretty impressive for a rookie treasure hunter.

Source: Flickr

You can say that this finding has been surreal and life-changing for Mike. He plans to continue detecting and digging up for treasure. Here’s hoping his days are filled with exciting discoveries!

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