A metal detectorist found a gold Medieval ring buried in a farmer’s field in Stockport.
And in a rare case, Paul Gardner’s unusual find has officially been classed as ‘treasure’ by a coroner.
The ring is now set to join the collection at The British Museum in London – and net Paul a tidy little windfall.
Metal detecting has been a hobby of his for three years.
He’s found Bronze Age arrowheads, coins spanning 12 different monarchs and even a small cannonball, but said the ring was his first real ‘treasure’ find.
It’s a gold finger ring and could date as far back as the year 1200 AD, the coroner was told.
Found by Paul on a farm near Marple in Stockport in June, it’s thought to have been owned and worn by a senior figure in the clergy, most likely a bishop.
It weighs 3.1 grammes but, sadly, is missing its gemstone.
Paul said only three items found in Greater Manchester have been formally declared as ‘treasure’ over the last 17 years.
This, he said, was the first item for around five years.
Legislation under the Treasure Act 1996 requires all finds believed to be a treasure to be reported to the coroner for the district they were found within 14 days.
Finds can also be flagged up with local Finds Liaison Officers.
They are classed as treasure under the Act if at least 10 per cent of their weight of metal is a precious metal – gold or silver.
Among a list of other stipulations and examples, two or more coins thought to be more than 300 years old also qualify as being a treasure.
In this case, Paul reported the ring to one of the officers based at the Museum of Liverpool.
They, in turn, contacted Stockport Coroners’ Court and the formal ruling was delivered at a hearing on Thursday.
Paul, 53, from Chadderton, Oldham, said: “I have only been detecting for about three years and have had some incredible finds.
“You just do not expect to find treasure in Greater Manchester.
“The ring now belongs to the Crown and they will come up with its worth. That will be split between me and the landowner.
“At a guesstimate, perhaps £1,000, maybe a bit more or a bit less. We just don’t know.
“The gemstone would have made it worth a fortune.
“I have always wanted to be a metal detectorist since I was a kid, but I don’t do it for the value. It’s just a hobby. I work nights and do it on my days off.”
Paul, who goes into schools to display his finds, said he had been out for ‘four or five hours’ in and around the field when he found the ring.
“It was just three inches down under the soil,” he said.
“It was a boiling hot day, I remember that, and I knew it was a brilliant find.
“I was literally shaking.”
At the hearing, senior police coroner’s officer Rita Wilkinson said the ring ‘was, and is, clearly an exciting find’.
She described it as ‘something every metal detectorist hopes to find’ and confirmed the court was informed of the find – which was made on private land after the landowner gave Paul consent to search.
The ring was described as an ‘incomplete, decorative gemstone, gold finger ring’ said to date back to between AD 1200 and AD 1400.
Paul said a similar Medieval finger ring with a sapphire gemstone on display at Plymouth Museum was worth in excess of £60,000 – and only 12 rings like it have ever been found before.
The British Museum wants to buy the ring, the hearing was told, and senior coroner Alison Mutch said the museum was ‘satisfied with the quality of the find’.
Ms Mutch said: “The law does require me to make a determination.
“I am satisfied that the item in question meets the definition of treasure and should be formally identified as such.”
The ring’s value is expected to be set by a government department and the Treasure Valuation Committee sometime in the new year.
The role of a coroner over the issue of treasure dates back many centuries.
According to the Portable Antiquities Scheme, if a museum wants to be a potential item of treasure, a coroner must hold an inquest to determine whether the find constitutes treasure and determine the key facts in the case.
Source: Manchester Evening News