A TREASURE trove of gold sovereigns found by six-year-old girls 35 years ago are set to fetch £6,000 at auction.

The coins, which date from 1869- 1913, were found by accident by the youngsters as they looked for a jar to put flowers in.

Vanessa Spiteri and Marie Palliser stumbled across the coins as they played in the summer of 1974.

Mystery surrounds how the 47 coins came to be lying in undergrowth near Thirsk.

They have been stored in a bank vault since the discovery in 1974 in Blakey Lane, Sowerby.

But now, Tennants’ Auctioneers, of Leyburn, will bring the full and half sovereigns under the hammer on April 29.

Mrs Palliser, of Carlton Miniott, near Thirsk, said: “We were walking on a footpath in Sowerby picking flowers and we were looking for something to put them in.

“We found a jar in the undergrowth with the coins inside it and we emptied them out into Vanessa’s purse as we were more interested in the jar.

“We thought they were blackened pennies and we were going to share them out later and play shop.

“We showed them to my mum, Iris Wilkinson, and she saw a queen’s head on them and we found out they were gold sovereigns.

“We rang the police and they took them away and the issue went to court to see if it was treasure trove and no-one came forward to say they were lost or stolen.”

The sovereigns were put in trust by the girl’s parents and they were stored in Barclays Bank, Thirsk.

Mrs Pallister and Mrs Spiteri, who has since moved to New Zealand, are to split the proceeds of the sale.

Mrs Palliser said: “It’s possible they belonged to someone who hid them before going off to fight in the First World War.

“He may have been killed and no-one else knew about the coins and where they were.

“I’ll not be upset to see them go as they’ve always been in the bank vault and I’ve never seen them for years.

“I don’t even want to keep one of them and I remember when we found them we were offered sums for them.”

Jeff Gardiner, Tennants’ coin consultant, said: “Having been stored in the bank for over 30 years, the coins are in an ‘as found’ condition.

“They will be sold as a hoard on April 29 and they should fetch between £5,000 and £6,000.”