True treasure discovered on hunt

PUBLISHED: 10:50 02 February 2006 | UPDATED: 11:33 04 May 2010

A TREASURE hunter with a metal detector unearthed an ancient gold ring on a Little Thetford farm, an inquest heard on Friday. The Bronze Age treasure was discovered by telecom engineer, Gerald Freeman-Smith and could date back as far as 1150BC. Now the pr

A TREASURE hunter with a metal detector unearthed an ancient gold ring on a Little Thetford farm, an inquest heard on Friday.

The Bronze Age treasure was discovered by telecom engineer, Gerald Freeman-Smith and could date back as far as 1150BC.

Now the precious ring, which could be worth up to £1,000, is being held at the British Museum so that it can be valued.

The penannular ring was declared treasure trove on Friday at Ely Coroner's Court by coroner William Morris.

He decided that it met the requirements of the 1996 Treasure Act, which states that an item must be at least 300 years old and contain at least 10 per cent of gold or silver.

Mr Morris based his decision on a report made by the curator of British Museums, Gillian Varndell, which stated that the gold-clad ring dated back to between 750BC and 150BC and weighed 11.86 grammes.

Now a decision will be made as to whether the ring is placed permanently in a museum - Ely Museum has expressed an interest - or returned to Mr Freeman-Smith, who has been metal detecting for 25 years. If kept in a museum, Mr Freeman-Smith would receive a reward which he plans to split with the landowner.

Mr Freeman-Smith said from his home in Windmill Close, Ely: "This really is like the Holy Grail of metal detecting. I'm very pleased to find such a rare item. To my knowledge there has only ever been one similar find in this area."

A similar ring, unearthed in 1997 by a treasure hunter with a metal detector, was valued at £650 and is held by Norfolk Museum.

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