A hoard of 122 Anglo-Saxon pennies, some of which may have been minted in west Dorset are to be sold at auction after two metal detectorists unearthed them in a field.

It is thought the coins were buried in 1066, after their owner may have died fighting in the Battle of Hastings.

An expert said the coins were worth a “considerable sum of money” and there was a “tantalising possibility” that the reason they were not retrieved at the time was because their owner died in battle.

Two metal detectorists discovered the hoard of 144 coins in 2019, near Braintree in Essex, and 16 of them were bought by Colchester Museum and Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum after they were processed under the terms of the 1996 Treasure Act.

In late 2023, the remaining coins were disclaimed and returned to the finders.

Now 122 of the coins are to be sold at Noonans Mayfair, with an estimate of up to £180,000, with the others to be kept by the metal detectorists.

Noonans Coin specialist Bradley Hopper said: “While the deposition of the Braintree Hoard might not relate directly to the events of 1066, the fact that it was never recovered surely did.

“Twelve shillings was a considerable sum of money, and its retrieval must have been prevented by some great personal misfortune; we cannot say with any certainty whether or not the Braintree hoard’s owner died fighting at Hastings, but it is a tantalising possibility.”

It is thought the coins were buried in 1066, within five years of all bar two of the coins being minted - and there is a possibility some were minted at a rare mint which existed in Bridport at the time.

Coins that date from the last two Anglo-Saxon kings of England – Edward the Confessor and Harold II Godwinsson – had been minted in other various towns and cities across the country as well.

These included London, Cambridge, Canterbury, Ipswich, Chichester, Guildford, Worcester, Hastings, Lincoln, Huntingdon and Maldon, and Sudbury in Suffolk.

Auctioneers described a Harold II penny from the Guildford moneyer Leofwold, which is part of the hoard, as “excessively rare” and it has an estimate of £5,000 to £6,000.

A single specimen from the Hastings mint, also estimated at £5,000 to £6,000, was described as only the second to appear at public auction in the last 40 years.

“We are particularly fortunate that the auction catalogue contains not only the rarest and most academically interesting English coins from the Braintree Hoard, but also those pieces in the finest state of preservation,” said Mr Hopper.

The auction at Noonans Mayfair will take place on February 21 and the proceeds will be shared between the two finders and the landowner.