There are crappy treasure hunting books, and there are great treasure hunting books. However, there are few awesome treasure hunting books. I have found an extraordinary one, and wish to share.
Written in 1933, somewhere in Great Britain, this tome clearly represented a lifetime of passionate research. At first, I believed it was a PhD thesis on the history of treasure troving in the UK. Then I came to realize it was too broad for a thesis, but simply the work of a passionate and focused man who was very academic in his research delving deep into dusty libraries to extract glimpses of past trovers.
The book is The Romance of Treasure Troves, by Charles R Beard, 1933, 372p.
He has chapters on the re-curring themes in treasure legends, such as the Norse legends of dragons guarding treasure hoards (Bear in mind this was before Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings!) and of the sustaining belief that “gold was thought to be concealed in the the heart of every burrow”1
There are chapters on treasure hunters during the middle ages, and on trovers during the sixteenth century. And he paints them into context of the times and places of the era, full of references and tantalizing leads to books 200, 300, and even 900 years out of print.
Then the references to the hundreds of roman and ancient hoards that have been ploughed up over the centuries and the history behind each one as best as can be proscribed.
A damn fine read, dense and delicious. Great for a rainy day or mid winter.
1 The Romance of Treasure Troves, Beard, p34