Gary Smith, the Hoard Whisperer

I first learned about Gary Smith while chatting with Nigel Ingram, Garrett distributor in the UK and old friend of 32 years. When Nigel told me about Gary’s finds I thought he was pulling my leg but I soon found out he wasn’t…..

Here’s Gary’s amazing story….enjoy!

Q. Gary, before we get started tell us a little about yourself, i.e., where do you live, are you married, what do you do for a living, where you keep you keep your valuables, etc…

A. Well I am very lucky to live in England which has a great history dating back to the early Beaker people who arrived in England from Europe over 4000 years ago. They brought over the very first metal type weapons and tools. Of course we have our Bronze Age, Iron Age, Saxon, Viking, Norman so need I say anymore!!! So yes lots to find.

I spend a lot of time in the fields all over the south of England…this is only possible due to a head on collision I had with a speeding lorry that left me with a brain injury.

Very lucky to survive this

As for being married I am still looking for that perfect woman who loves to be out metal detecting like myself so as you can imagine I am still single, lol.


Q. Thanks Gary. When exactly did you start metal detecting?

A. After my accident in 2009 I was getting very bored not working.  My doctors told me to get a hobby and I loved old coins!!! I bought my first machine at the end of 2012, a Garrett Euro Ace. I found my first cut half hammered coin which was an Alexander III Scottish coin dating around the year 1200, then went on to find my first hoard of 388 roman coins. Now I’m totally at the point of no return….

Within a few months of starting late 2012 I found my first hoard….388 Roman coins


Q. And what was it that made you purchase the Euro Ace?

A. I did a lot of home work for my first machine, I needed something that was going to be fairly simple to understand but effective for me to find something.


Q. Curious, does anyone else in your family detect?

A. No, no one else.


Q. What was your very first signal/find? Do you remember?

A. A cut half hammered penny of King Alexander 3rd of Scotland.


Q. What was your very first “good” or decent find, as in keeper.

A. Has got to be my first hoard of 388 Roman coins.


Q. Being in the UK I’m pretty sure you spend your time searching fields but do you have any secrets or tips to offer other tekkies?

A. No but I began to realize that not every field had treasures so I concentrated on known places that were rich in history and worked from there. (southern coast of England)

Just doing my thing


Q. Another test Gary….how long did it take you to find your first silver coin and do you remember what it was?

A. This would have been my cut half hammered coin or a silver six pence of Queen Victoria.

A few of my favorite finds


Q. How long did it take you to find your first ring and what type of ring was it?

A. Rings are something that I don’t find a lot of to be fair. If I remember correctly it was about 3 or so years into the hobby and it was a gold posey ring of the late 1700’s.


Q. Did you spend a lot of time researching in the beginning and if so how did you go about it?

A. Researching is the key to being a successful detectorist. Using google search I can add place names in and type history and places seem to appear which have been recorded. Of course going back a bit further I looked at the dooms day book which has entries and place names for the year 1086. The rest is really filling in the gaps around the information and finding the rest.


Q. What would you consider to be your best find after so far?

A. Hmm… tricky one this !! It comes down to two items …. my late Bronze Age goldsmith’s anvil which is lovely, in mint condition and with gold flecks still on the working surface after 3500 years. Nice too to see that mine is probably only the 7th known in the UK. The second best would be my 2nd hoard found complete in a pot on a hill overlooking the sea. It contained 800 Roman coins dating between 260-296 AD.

My 2nd hoard


Q. So you’ve found three hoards?

A. No actually I’ve found five.


Q. That’s incredible…tell me more.

A. Within a few months of starting late 2012 I found my first hoard (front of the magazine above) with the Garrett Euro Ace…388 Romans’

The 2nd hoard was about 20 miles away from the first and a year later…800 Roman coins in a pot. Then a 3rd and 4th about a years gap on each one with another 1100 Roman coins. The 5th consisted of Bronze Age bun ingots recovered at a rally in Kent, south of England with the AT Max on release day.

3rd hoard

The 4th hoard

On the launch day of the AT Max I went to a large weekend rally and popped out this great Bronze Age bun ingot hoard


Q. If you don’t mind me asking how much were these finds valued at?

A. The first was £700’ish, 2nd was £1155,  3rd and 4th were donated to a museum and the 5th I am still waiting to find out mate. We don’t ever really get proper market values but near it.


Q. Gary that just blows my mind! Hard to ask the rest of my questions now…

A. Fire away.


Q. Okay, this ought to be interesting…what is your “oldest” find to date?

A. Apart from stone flint tools, this would be my copper age tanged dagger which is the very first metal type tool in the whole of the UK.


Q. What is your “rarest” find?

A. My Goldsmith’s Anvil….only 7 known in the UK and only 33 in the whole of Europe with my being one of the best known examples.

My ultra rare goldsmith anvil which is over 4000 years old


Q. Always have to ask this…what would you consider your “weirdest” find to date?

A. Haven’t got a really weird find, but did find the farmers basic mobile phone which he lost the previous year. He dried it out and apparently got it working lol


Q. Gary what detector are you using at the moment and why?

A. I am a dual user at the moment, using the XP Deus and the Garrett AT Max. The Deus due to its weight and the AT Max as every time I pick up a Garrett I find a hoard lol.


Q. Can you offer up a few tips or settings?

A. The AT Max is always kept pretty simple: Zero mode, Discrim – 25 or 30 ish depending on site as don’t want to miss any misshapen small gold. Sensitivity maximum, ground balance, Iron audio on (on busy sites ) or off on quiet sites for peace and quiet lol…

As for the Deus let me just share the settings from the photo in Andy Sabisch’s book;

My general rule with any setting is that if I can dig a nail I am not missing anything.  


Another favorite…Queen Victoria shield type Half Sovereign


Q. Where do you spend most of your detecting time now?

A. Although I spend a lot of time locally on the south coast I travel around a little now on rallies every year all over the place.


Q. Do you prefer hunting with others or are you a loner?

A. I have a private metal detecting club where we raise money for charity and get together around once every three weeks, but apart from that I am a bit of a loner and like to get on it by my self and discover new places.

The Garrett crew comes over from time to time to do a little detecting (left to right: Brian McKenzie, Steve Moore, Tim Saylor, George Wyant and yours truly)


Q. When you do go detecting what accessories do you take with you?

A. Waterproofs, food, drinks, spade, finds pouch, machine and off I go.


Q. Gary how often do you get out detecting today?

A. Around 4 times a week.

Gary (3rd from right) and Garrett team, Rally/Italy 2017

Myself and Nigel from Regtons Ltd. with our trophy’s/very proud day


Q. You surely have a bucket list. Care to share it?

A. A gold roman coin and a Elizabeth 1st milled coin are my two favourites to find yet.


Q. What would your ideal detector look like?

A. A magic wand ?

Doing my thing


Q. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

A. Patience is very important in this hobby as you never know when something will pop up. Just keep searching and enjoy the day out.


Q. If you could pass along one or two words of advice to other detectorists, what would they be?

A. Get off my land!!


Amazing stuff, thank you Gary!




Filed under Metal Detecting

21 responses to “Gary Smith, the Hoard Whisperer

  1. Great interview, it makes me want to get over there to hunt. Someday…

  2. Nice interview. Just goes to show that while UK arkies – both professional and amateur – are re-active researchers, Tekkies are ‘out there’ doing the pro-active biz and adding significant data to the common heritage database. Well done!

  3. Gary smith

    Thanks for the nice comments guys and to Dick for taking his time to publish this. I love finding and tracking down my English history. We record most finds and all of my hoards have been excavated by specialists with help from our local archaeologist to gain any information we can.

  4. john taylor

    i’m gonna start a ‘go fund me” page,so i can get my a** across the pond to hunt with gary!
    dick! to contribute? can start with that 20 spot howland finally give ya! ..ehe! he! he! he!


  5. Gary’s finds simply blow my mind…a 4,000 year old goldsmith’s anvil with gold flecks still on it! I manage to find an 1879 Indian Head penny here in Florida and I go crazy, but I’m already crazy so not a big deal. He’s found found FIVE hordes!!! As John Howland would say,”It buggers the imagination,mate!” Amazing detectorist and a good interview, Dick.

    • And….he only started in 2012!

    • john taylor

      hey! speak for yourself! ohhh! sorry! you did! my bad! “buggers the imagination mate?”
      sounds like somethin’ only the ” boys from the land of “room temperature beer” would say!
      no wonder ya had so many problems with the “boys from the colonies stealin’ your women”
      during the war! (hot damn)…i’m just sayin’


  6. Bob Sickler

    Gary’s statement… “Researching is the key to being a successful detectorist.” No truer words spoken. I’ve been preaching this for years. Take two hunters with equal skills and the same detector… What separates them?… The ability to research a productive location. Research in how to better use your detector should be everyone’s priority in the beginning. I would say all of us “across the pond” are envious of Gary’s finds!

    • It is indeed the key Bob and “envious” is an understatement. What Gary has found in seven years is amazing. Hope the snow is gone in your neck of the woods….

    • john taylor

      hi bob!
      just wanted to comment on your discrimination book.
      i consider this “compulsory” reading for serious detectorists
      in my view,one of the most “concise” and fascinating studies
      on the subject,and well worth 10 times its cost! value beyond measure!
      god bless!


  7. Tony

    Very exciting interview, thanks for doing this one, Dick.
    Gary is a very smart person for getting his coil over terrific targets. Very cool finds!

  8. David

    Great story coming from what seemed like a tragic start. Amazing finds – keep on hunting!!

  9. Tony

    Dick, great interview that made me start thinking of big treasures. I started thinking about Forrest Fenn – it’s real but just too dang far away for me. Help!

  10. Tony

    Dick, thanks for the Fenn video! It was much better than watching drama of oak island.
    Fenn says the same thing that you say, “keep it simple”. Which is what Gary did, get a map find out where old places are and start detecting.
    Stay thirsty my friend, raise a glass for adventure!

    • Tony keeping it simple is easy as you get older. You are smarter and wiser and realize that much of what you spent your money on was unnecessary…frills…adornment. The goal is to find treasure not to look cool.

  11. gary smith

    Yes we did hear about this in the UK, the rich guy apparently buried some treasure lol. I surposse he actually did, maybe closer to home than he makes out.Is a large area though but will be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of years.

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