Treasure hunter strikes gold
A treasure hunter has uncovered a 400-year-old gold ring in a farmer's field.
Phillip Cramphorn discovered the woman's mourning ring, which dates back to the late 16th or early 17th century, while using a metal detector in a field south of Leicester.
The ring has been described by the British Museum as "post-medieval" and could be worth hundreds of pounds.
Phill, 62, from Eyres Monsell, recalled his excitement as his detector registered something buried in the field.
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He said: "I dug it out and it looked like a lump of copper. I cleaned it up and then I realised it was gold.
"I told the farmer and reported it to the finds liaison officer at County Hall, who passed it on to the British Museum to be assessed. She told me it was probably a mourning ring."
Phill, who has been metal detecting for three years, said: "It is the most valuable thing I have dug up. That was in October and I have just received it back. I intend to put it in a specialist auction. I will share the cash with the farmer."
As the ring is more than 300 years old and gold, it had to be declared treasure and offered to the Crown.
Should the Crown have wished, it could have retained it and paid the finder its market value.
However, Ian Richardson, treasure registrar at the British Museum, said the Crown had relinquished its interest in the ring and returned it.
Sometimes, an inquest is held into finds such as this, but not in this case.
In his assessment, Mr Richardson said: "It is a post- medieval gold and gemstone finger ring. It is 21mm in diameter, weighing 4.65 grams, with a rectangular cut pink stone held in place with gold foil.
"It is made of gold and more than 300 years old, late 16th or early 17th century."
Phill's partner, Kathleen Jordan, said: "Phill was so excited when he found it. He came in saying he had found a gold ring. I did not believe him because he always bring bits home, coins, bits of brick and the like. But I find it fascinating. Just to think that Phill was the first person to touch this ring in 400 years."
Phill caught the metal detecting bug from his brother-in-law, Gary Norman, and goes out about twice a week.
"He loves it and we have tins of finds around the house. They include coins, spoons and bits of earthenware.
"He is putting the ring in a sale with Timeline Auctions and splitting the proceeds with the owner of the field."
Chris Wren, of Timeline Auctions, in Essex, said: "It looks as if it is a mourning ring which would fetch hundreds of pounds rather than thousands. To give a more accurate valuation, we would have to examine it closely."