Forgotten treasure from 1350 turns up in garage and could sell for £10,000

Posted on 15/08/2019 in Press Coverage

A medieval ring a metal detectorist had forgotten about after digging it up 40 years ago could sell for thousands at auction.

The ring had been languishing in a tin tucked away in a garage for decades when Tom Clark, 81, from Aylesbury, Bucks, a retired leather craftsman, found it again by chance.

He was sorting through items that had come from his mother’s house after she passed away eight years ago when the forgotten treasure turned up.

Now the medieval gold seal ring, circa 1350, bearing a Latin inscription and containing what is through to be a semi-precious intaglio, is set to be sold at Hansons Auctioneers’ Historica and Metal Detecting Finds Auction on August 27 with an estimate of £8,500-£10,000.

Mr Clark said: “I had completely forgotten about it. I found it around 1979/1982 on farmland just outside Aylesbury. There’s a big housing estate on the land now.

“At the time I’d only been metal detecting for 10 years and didn’t realise the ring was anything special. It was all twisted and broken when I dug it up.

“I took it to a museum along with a lot of other rings I’d come across so they could record the finds. I went back a week later and they told me the rings were all fairly modern and gave them back to me.

“So, I put them all in a tin and left them in the garage at my mother’s house where I was living at the time. Back then I would have been in my 30s.

“A few months ago, I was sorting through some stuff in my own garage that had come from my mother’s house and there it was - the tin with the rings in it. I’ve learned a lot over the last 50 years spent metal detecting - and I know a lot more now than I did when I found the ring in the late 70s or early 80s.

“I knew straight away it was a seal ring dating back to around 1350. I had the shank of the ring mended, luckily the head was intact. I then took it back to my local museum and the find has now been recorded.

'Ring of the highest quality'

“It’s the highest carat gold and would have belonged to someone of importance due to its decoration and quality. The dark green intaglio features the god Mars holding a spear and trophy. It’s rare and elegant. I’d love to know who it belonged to.”

Mark Becher, Historica expert at Hansons, said: “What a piece of history. The ring is around 670 years old. It’s buried treasure that turned into forgotten treasure.

“The ring bears a Latin inscription (NVNCIE.VERA.TEGO) which may translate as ‘I hide the true message’. This could relate to the role of a seal ring in securing correspondence. It’s a fascinating piece of medieval jewellery and I’m delighted Tom rediscovered again after all these years.”

The seal ring will be sold at Hansons Auctioneers, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, DE65 6LS, on Tuesday, August 27 in a Historica and Metal Detecting Finds Auction. Viewing of Historica lots available at Hansons on Friday, August 23, 10am-4pm. To find out more, email [email protected].