Backyards tend to be fairly humdrum places where we relax, grow vegetables and flowers, and play when we’re children. But sometimes they can hold extraordinary secrets. Indeed, over the years, people have found everything from unexploded bombs and large caches of marijuana to mammoth bones and human remains in them. Here are 20 of the most astonishing things discovered in the world’s backyards.
20. Ferrari grave
It was 1978 in LA, and a tip-off led police to an entire Dino 246 Ferrari buried in a backyard. At the time, to conceal the identity of an informant, police claimed that the sports car had been found by kids playing. It seems that the vehicle was actually stolen to order as part of an insurance scam that didn’t go to plan.
19. A curse in a jar
Reddit user ValjeanLucPicard was doing some gardening at his home in Costa Rica when his spade hit a glass jar. And while that wasn’t especially unusual, the contents of this sealed jar certainly were. Indeed, they led ValjeanLucPicard to suspect that witchcraft was afoot. The jar contained a photo of the property’s landlady, written words and fragments of fabric. What’s more, the landlady insisted that the contents be burned to forestall any curse.
18. Pot galore
In 2012 Mack Reed was planning to put solar panels in his LA backyard when he opened an access vault. He then spotted an unfamiliar bag – and the contents were mind-boggling. It was full of sealed jars of marijuana, complete with labels such as Super Lemon Haze and White Russian. What Reed had uncovered was $175,000 worth of high-grade pot. Yet who had put it there remains a mystery.
17. £10 million in gold coins
It was 2013, and a middle-aged, married couple we’ll call John and Mary were walking their dog on their land. The next thing, John noticed an old tin can stuck in the ground. And when the couple subsequently examined it, they realized that the can was full of gold coins. In fact, they uncovered eight cans in all, with a total of 1,472 coins inside. What’s more, after a professional valuation, the couple found that they’d stumbled upon buried treasure worth $10 million.
16. Fallout shelter museum
When Chris and Colleen Otcasek bought their new home in Woodland Hills, California, in 2013, they were tipped off that the backyard included a nuclear fallout shelter. However, they didn’t expect it to be perfectly preserved, with all kinds of vintage tinned foods, sleeping bags and magazines. Alvin Kaufmann, a nuclear engineer, had built and kitted out the shelter in 1961.
15. Cursed money?
All 49-year-old Wayne Sabaj of Johnsburg, Illinois, wanted was some broccoli for dinner. But when he went to pick some from his backyard, he found bags containing $150,000 in cash. What’s more, honest – and unemployed – Sabaj handed the money over to the cops. However, there’s a sad twist to the tale. Two years later, and days before he was due to be paid a share of the money, Sabaj died of natural causes.
14. Guns and gnomes
South Norwood is a leafy suburb of London, England. Indeed, it’s the sort of place that has well-kept gardens decorated with flowerpots and garden gnomes. But under the gnomes in one such garden, police found a horrifying stash of guns. In fact, one of the weapons had been used in a drive-by shooting – and the firearms were eventually traced back to two crooks, James Gilbert and Tony Waller. Both men subsequently received lengthy jail terms.
13. Bones in the backyard
Back in February 2016 a man was digging a trench in his backyard in West Hobart, Tasmania. Moreover, as the digging progressed, something sinister appeared: bone fragments. Things then became even spookier when what was clearly a human jawbone, complete with teeth, emerged. That was when the police got involved. It subsequently turned out that the home had been built atop an old cemetery from the mid 19th century.
12. Chilled to the bone
All Ali Erturk had intended to do at some point in 2014 was dig a trout pond in his Salt Lake City backyard. Instead, though, the 14-year-old made an extraordinary and shocking find – for he unearthed the bones of an American Indian who had died 1,000 years earlier. Ali told KTVX-TV, “When I saw it looked like a human skull, then it definitely was a bit creepy.”
11. Mammoth in the woods.
It was July 2010, and a man called John was, along with his two teenage sons, searching for blackberries in the family’s backyard woods in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Then one of the boys spotted what he thought was a ball. On closer inspection, however, it turned out to be a giant bone. In fact, once the University of Iowa looked at it, it was identified as a mammoth femur. Moreover, it was at least 12,000 years old.
10. A familiar ring
Swede Lena Paahlsson mislaid her wedding ring in 1995, and the loss was especially vexing as she’d designed the ring herself. Still, 16 years later – years during which her family had searched high and low for the ring – Paahlsson was picking carrots in her garden. And there it was, lodged around a carrot. “The carrot was sprouting in the middle of the ring. It is quite incredible,” Lena’s husband Ola told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
9. A whale of a thing
When your backyard is firmly inland in Palos Verdes, California, one of the last things you’d expect to find there would be the fossilized remains of a giant sea creature. But that’s just what Gary Johnson discovered. In fact, his find was identified as the remains of a baleen whale that lived 14 to 16 million years ago.
8. Buried treasure
Finding a buried treasure trove in your back garden is an unlikely, but not impossible, dream – and it’s exactly what happened to one Austrian man in 2011. Indeed, he uncovered hidden treasure said to be 650 years old. What’s more, the find included more than 200 pieces of gold and silver jewelry, including brooches, rings and buckles.
7. Monster of the deep
John Lambert of Tuddenham St Martin, England, turned up a strange 15-pound bone in his backyard. He then put the find in his shed and forgot about it for 16 years. Finally, in 2013, he sent it to Ipswich Museum, where experts were able to tell him that it was in fact a pliosaur’s limb bone. Noted for their powerful bite, the huge creatures swam in the sea from 250 to 60 million years ago.
6. Finding the Horestone
Stephen Davis, who lives in Stroud, England, and his historian friend Clare Forbes undertook a personal project to find an ancient standing stone. The object in question was the Horestone, which stood over a Bronze Age burial site. First mentioned in a document from 1170, it had been lost to history more than three centuries earlier. Eventually, though, the pair located the stone – in Davis’ own garden.
5. Bombs away
Workmen were laying a new drive in the garden of a vet’s practice in North Yorkshire, England, when they came across something that was hair-raising, to say the least. Yes, they uncovered what looked like two unexploded mortar bombs. Army disposal experts consequently took the munitions away. And, to everyone’s relief, it was later determined that the shell casings didn’t contain live explosives.
4. Rome in a backyard
Luke Irwin was laying some electric cable under his lawn in Wiltshire, England, when he uncovered a Roman mosaic. Archeologists subsequently came to examine the find, and their excavations revealed an amazing discovery: the remains of an extensive Roman villa. Experts say the villa dates from around 200 AD and likely “belonged to a family of great wealth and importance.”
3. Spontaneous swimming pool?
People often dig holes in their backyards to accommodate swimming pools. But what if such a hole appears spontaneously? Well, that’s exactly what happened to unlucky Ray and Lynette Mackay. Yes, a sinkhole full of gurgling water opened up in their backyard in Ipswich, Australia, in 2016. The fact that the house is on Coal Street is a clue: the hole was an opening to a disused mine shaft from the early 20th century.
2. Not your average bear
Lots of people in Florida have hammocks in their backyards, but usually they’re strictly reserved for human beings. However, nobody seemed to have mentioned that to this black bear, which decided to make use of the garden amenity. The hammock’s rightful owner, Vincent James, told WESH, “He got in the hammock like he was a tourist or something.”
1. A worm to make you squirm
There is absolutely nothing unusual about having earthworms in your backyard; in fact, they’re a sure sign of healthy soil. But what about one that measures 19 inches? Well, that’s what Chinese forestry worker Li Zhiwei found in his backyard in 2012. Speaking to KSLA News, Zhiwei said, “It looked like a snake. [But] I looked carefully and found it was actually a huge earthworm.”