An ancient gold ring buried in Oxfordshire for hundreds of years and hailed ‘the find of a lifetime’ by a metal detectorist has sold for thousands of pounds at auction.
Paul Wood, 64, a driving instructor from Upton, near Poole, Dorset, uncovered the treasure while exploring land with the Metal Detectives Group.
And such was the quality of the seal ring, which dates back to between the late 1500s and early 1700s, it was named ‘Artefact of the Year’ by the group which has more than 1,000 members.
The precious find was contested to £10,000 today (Mon, Nov 26) when it went under the hammer at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers. It sold to an overseas telephone bidder.
Mr Wood said: “I’m really pleased the ring did so well at auction. It sold for well above its reserve price and it’s nice to have a windfall just before Christmas.
“I’ve been metal detecting since the mid-1970s and this was the find of a lifetime for me. It could be 500 years old. I’ve found broken bits of ring before but never anything like this. It’s in beautiful condition. There isn’t a blemish on it.”
Mark Becher, who runs the Metal Detectives Group from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, said: “I organised the dig where the ring was found at Bampton, near Witney, Oxfordshire, on August 1, 2016. It took place on land sold off for housing development. I asked if we could explore the land before the houses went up.
“The homes have been built now. But for Paul, that ring, which is steeped in history and worth thousands of pounds, could have been lost forever.
“When Paul found it, he was so excited – we all were.We knew it was special. It’s a high-end object that would have belonged to a person of wealth and importance. It demonstrates craftsmanship, skill, detail and definition. It’s just amazing. Gold comes out of the ground exactly as it goes in.”
The ring is engraved with an elaborate coat of arms and crest which is believed to represent the Skynner family. According to research carried out by Mr Wood, the Skynners were important in the Bampton region from the 13th Century onwards.
“I found variations of the Skynner crest and traced the Le Skiniers who came over to England during the Norman conquest in the 11th century,” said Mr Wood. “There was a Henry Le Skynner in 1287 in Brampton. The evidence is compelling.”
James Brenchley, Hansons’ head of Antiquities, Ancient Art and Classical Coins, said: “The ring was a wonderful find and I’d delighted it’s made a substantial amount. A similar example can be found at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.”
The ring went through the usual Portable Antiquities Scheme procedures and was examined by the British Museum before being sold at Hansons Auctioneers, Heage Lane, Derbyshire, DE65 6LS, on November 26. To find out more, email [email protected]