A young factory worker who’s found ‘lots of rubbish’ during years of metal detector wasn’t surprised when his machine’s digital display indicated he’d found a drink can ring-pull.
Ben Bishop, 30, from Bridgwater, Somerset, said: “I thought it was another Coke can ring-pull – I’ve found tons of those over the years along with lots or rubbish. I lifted up the turf and started digging, expecting to find another one. But I saw something shining and, when I broke off the mud, it was an ancient gold ring.
“It’s the first gold I’ve ever found. I was so gobsmacked I just sat down on the ground staring at it for about 40 minutes.”
The ring has since been identified as Elizabethan and dates back to between 1550 and 1650. That means it could be nearly 500 years old.
It was found last August in a farmer’s field, near Glastonbury, Somerset, where Ben, a metal detector for seven years, had permission to dig.
The gold signet ring, featuring a double-headed eagle, will now be sold at Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire on September 27 with an estimate of £7,500 to £10,000.
Ben said: “I did lots of research on the ring and immediately registered it as Treasure Trove. I thought it may have been Eastern European but it turns out that the Eagle symbol was used on lead tokens when Elizabeth I was on the throne
“The ring was taken away for a couple of months to be examined and the British Museum did a report on it. No museums wanted to buy it so it was returned to me as the finder.
“I had an agreement with the owner of the field that if I found anything of high value I would sell it and split the proceeds. It’s a man’s ring and fits my finger really well, but I have to part with it.
“I have no idea who it originally belonged to but it would have been a person of wealth and importance. Glastonbury Abbey, an old monastery, isn’t far away.”
Ben took the ring to show jewellery expert Kate Bliss, a familiar face on TV’s Bargain Hunt and Flog It! She was at a free jewellery valuations events organised by Hansons Auctioneers at The Malt House, The Rookery, Alveston, Stratford.
She said: “This gold signet ring bowled me over. What an amazing find. Ben is an avid and experienced metal detector. It’s been assessed by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
“Depicting a double headed eagle on a flat oval bezel with beaded border, the ring weighs in at an unusually heavy 17grams. This is a rare find and one which will appeal to jewellery enthusiasts and historians alike.”
The ring will be sold at Hansons’ Jewellery Showcase Auction on September 27. Entries invited until September 7. To find out more, email [email protected].
Experts from Hansons Auctioneers will be back at The Malt House, The Rookery, Alveston, Stratford, Warwickshire, CV37 7QP, on August 31, 1-4pm. As well as general valuations, Hansons’ books and manuscripts expert Jim Spencer will be at the venue. All types of items are welcome, from jewellery, silver and watches, to ceramics, paintings, antiquarian books and sporting memorabilia.
If people are happy with their valuation, items can be consigned there and then to a future sale at Hansons Auctioneers, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire. To find out more, visit www.hansonsauctioneers.co.uk or call Carol Jones on 07802 839915.