TREASURE hunters hit the jackpot when they unearthed coins dating back to Roman times at a new horse-racing circuit at Great Leighs.

Bosses at Chelmsford City Racecourse asked Braintree Metal Detecting Club to help out with the creation of the track.

Locally-sourced soil had been brought in as one of the layers for the racecourse.

The metal detectorists were brought in to search for any sharp metal objects which could potentially injure horses.

Club chairman Brian Day organised small teams to use their detectors to scour the site.

They were looking for hazards such as nails, pieces of machinery and other rubbish that could cause serious damage to racehorses' hooves.

But the enthusiasts struck gold when they also uncovered Roman and medieval coins and various pieces of jewellery.

Southend Standard:

  • Some of the many hundreds of coins recovered accompanied by some old spoons

They also found hundreds of modern coins from all over the world – believed to reflect the venue's popularity with international race fans.

Southend Standard:

  • The final impressive pile of metallic items removed by club members from the Chelmsford City Racecourse

Editor of Witham-based Treasure Hunting magazine Julian Evan-Hart attended many of the searches to detect as well as to make a photographic record of the finds.

He said: “This is a marvellous opportunity to both help the local community, prevent injury to the horses and clean the environment, as well as recover historically important coins and artefacts.

"Such community-based activities are also very important for highlighting the benefits of metal detecting, creating awareness and encouraging others to hopefully try out the hobby.”

Southend Standard:

  • Club members finally leave the racecourse

An astonishing amount of potentially harmful objects – including a computer keyboard – were removed.

The club has now been given an extra 500 acres of land to search and Chelmsford City Racecourse has invited all those involved to a race night when the track re-opens.

Mr Evan-Hart said the detectorists who took part were "very proud" of their achievements.

He added: "Braintree Metal Detecting Club would like to express their thanks to the management and staff at Chelmsford City Racecourse and wish them all the very best for the future."