Matthew acted for the prosecution in this case against two defendants who had acquired extremely rare Anglo Saxon coins. The coins were treasure from a hoard and of high monetary value but were also extremely important culturally and, particularly, for an understanding of English history and the reign of Alfred the Great and his ally, the little known Ceolwulf II of Mercia.
The coins were believed to have come from a hoard that was dug up in Herefordshire but only recovered in part and was therefore being traded on the black market. The defendants held 46 of the coins, with an estimated value of nearly £800k, and were attempting an “off books” sale to an American buyer. The buyer was fictitious and was in fact an undercover officer. When one of the defendants attended to meet with the ‘buyer’ at a hotel in Durham he was arrested with three coins on him. The remainder were recovered from the other defendant’s home.
The case has attracted national and international media attention as the coins in question “re-write the history of England”.