Usually, weird things people found in their yards are fairly benign: an interesting rock here, a particularly beautiful flower there. But every once in a while, someone unwittingly stumbles across a historical treasure - or the horror of a lifetime.
Of course, backyards aren't the only places people find unexpected things; construction workers and people who made the mistake of going into a basement have found an oddity or two, as well. But, somehow, unsettling discoveries are even more shocking when they occur so close to home.
A couple from Sierra Nevada, California, literally struck gold when they noticed the top of an old canister sticking out of the ground while walking their dog around their property in 2013. Inside the canister was a bunch of old gold coins, and when the couple later returned to the spot where they found it, they dug up another seven canisters!
Altogether, the eight canisters contained 1,427 coins dating from 1847 to 1894: four $5 gold pieces, fifty $10 gold pieces, and 1,373 $20 double eagles. Though the coins' face value in the 19th century was $27,980, their age and rarity made the treasure trove worth around $11 million. Not bad for a walk around the yard!
Several coins were auctioned at the Old San Francisco Mint in May 2014, including one coin, an 1874 $20 double eagle, that sold for $15,000.
In December 2019, archaeologists with the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research reported a 1,000-year-old ship buried 2 feet underground on a farm in Edøy, Norway. The archaeologists estimate the ship is from either the Merovingian or Viking periods. Two of the archeological team members, Manuel Gabler and Dag-Øyvind Solem, decided by chance to survey the area with ground-penetrating radar and spotted the outline of the ship.
Over time, and due to the various farm equipment used on the property, the ship has deteriorated greatly. It is approximately 52 to 55 feet long. As the archeological team works to identify the origins of the ship, they intend to further explore the surrounding area to search for any other potential treasures.
In February 1978, The Los Angeles Times reported a shocking story: two Los Angeles children found a Dino 264 GTS Ferrari, which had apparently been stolen several years earlier, buried in their backyard. The Ferrari, claimed the reporter, was in shockingly good condition, with only a small hole over the right taillight belying the truth of its underground burial. Sounds fantastical, right?
As it turns out, the story of the buried Ferrari is a little more complicated than that. In 2012, Mike Spinelli of Jalopnik contacted one of the detectives that worked the case back in 1978. The detective, Dennis Carroll, claimed that a snitch tipped off police about the location of the car - the story about the two kids finding it was a plant to shield the snitch's identity. And, the snitch alleged, the car wasn't exactly stolen: the original owner hired a few guys to stage the crime so he could collect the insurance money. The police could never prove it, though, so the owner was never charged. And as for the Dino's condition when it was dug up? It was an absolute wreck. A passionate mechanic got his hands on it, did some extensive restorations, and is still driving it around today.
In 2011, Vincent Marcello, a man living the French Quarter of New Orleans, attempted to dig a hole for his new swimming pool. Instead, he accidentally unearthed an 18th-century graveyard. The historic cemetery came complete with 13 caskets full of human remains – as well as a healthy supply of the heebie-jeebies.
Marcello was aware that his property had historic ties, but until the discovery of the cemetery, he didn't know just how deep the history went.