A spectacular hoard of centuries-old coins found in a brook in the borough gives a small but perfectly-formed window into the past.
Thomas Jackson, from Hindley, found the 43 silver objects dating from the 1100s to the 1600s protected in a small rusty box.
Mr Jackson was delving in the small waterway near Lovers Lane in Atherton when he discovered the trove, which he believes was probably put together during the English Civil War and which had survived the passage of hundreds of years.
The collection of whole coins and fragments provides an insight to centuries of British life, with coins created in the times of various medieval, Tudor and Stuart monarchs.
Mr Jackson, 65, sent the coins to Liverpool Museum for analysis and is now looking for somewhere local to display them.
He said: “I have a couple of magnets and thought I would give it a try in the brook.
“Firstly I pulled out some old scrap which I put on one side and then found this little box.
“It was about the size of a snuff box and all rusted up. I got home and when the box dried the coins fell out.
“I could see Elizabeth I on one of them so I knew that was 16th century.
“People have said different things about where it came from. Someone could have hoarded them from the civil war to buy arms with or heard there were soldiers coming this way and thrown them away.
“At the moment they’re in a drawer at home but I don’t want to keep them, I would like them to be put on display somewhere they can be seen in Atherton or Tyldesley.
“It’s an interesting insight into the past.”
A report prepared on the coins says they are not rare and were probably accidentally lost rather than deliberately placed there.
It states the centuries-wide span of object suggests a collection rather than taken from currency and the box also contained several Scottish coins as well as foreign sterling.
The trove includes a cut farthing or broken halfpenny from the reign of Henry III bearing the date 1248 or 1249, a penny with the head of Richard II on from the 1300s and coins from Henry II’s time on the throne.
More mysterious objects include what is possibly a foreign silver coin and a short cross penny produced some time between 1180 and
Mr Jackson is no stranger to unearthing bits of the dim and distant past as he previously found a number of Roman coins at another site in Atherton.
He has also carried out detecting work at homes in the town and uncovered pieces from the Georgian and Victorian eras.