RARE coins and finds dating back to the medieval period have been unearthed in the grounds of one of the North East’s oldest schools.

The treasure, which spans five centuries, came to light as a result of a month-long “Saving History” project at Durham School, carried out by local metal detectorist, George Marley.

Among the finds are French coins, a Victorian silver sixpence, a copper Charles II coin minted in Edinburgh in the 1660s and a gold seal ring, dating from 1899.

Mr Marley worked with his son, David and 12-year-old grandson, Ben, to search the top 30cm of earth.

Other discoveries included lead tokens, which would have been given to farm labourers each day and exchanged for cash at the end of the week.

The majority of the items were found beneath the lawns surrounding the school’s Poole House, The Grove and the rugby field and the collection will now be displayed at the school.

Durham School is one of England’s oldest schools, believed to have been founded in the early 15th Century next to Durham Cathedral, before moving to its present 35-acre site, at Quarryheads Lane, in 1844.

“These finds are incredibly exciting for the school because they bring the past to life,” said history master, Diccon Tyreman.

“You can learn a great deal from books but nothing quite matches the feeling you get when you hold items that were last owned, used or played with many centuries ago.

“It reminds you that history is not just about dates, it’s about people.”

Mr Marley said: “The site is steeped in history and I would imagine there are far older things buried beneath the earth, out of range of our detectors.

“But I was delighted with what we found.”