NOTTINGHAMSHIRE: A medieval ring found by an amateur treasure hunter in the heart of Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest could be worth up to £70,000. Mark Thompson, who makes his living spray-painting fork lift trucks, had been in the famous Nottinghamshire woodland for just 20 minutes when his metal detector sounded. The 34-year-old, who had only taken up the hobby 18 months before, was expecting to find something innocuous – perhaps some dropped money or rubbish left behind by holidaymakers. But as he shovelled away at the soil he saw a glint of gold, and after removing the surrounding dirt he uncovered an ornate piece of jewellery which appeared to be adorned with a precious sapphire. Thompson has reported the find and it is now going through the treasure hunting process, which he hopes could end in him receiving a windfall. He has consulted with auctioneers who have suggested it could be worth anywhere between £20,000 and £70,000. Thompson said, “I had been out metal detecting with a group for about 20 minutes when I heard the signal. I was really excited when I saw that it was gold, but I didn’t realise at that point just how significant it might be. I called my friend who came down to take a look and help see whether there was anything else related nearby. It’s the find of a lifetime – I never expected to unearth anything like that. I’m still in shock when I think about it – it was such an exhilarating moment. If it does prove to be as valuable as we think it might be, it would completely change my life. I’m renting at the moment and I’d love to be able to buy a house or move into somewhere more comfortable.”
Dot Boughton, a regional finds liaison officer, confirmed that the ring is undergoing tests at the British Museum and the case has been referred to the coroner so it can be formally classified as treasure. It is believed the ring, which is engraved with an infant Christ on one side and a female saint on the other, dates from the 14th century. Boughton’s report into the ring compares the stone with one used on the tomb of former Archbishop of Canterbury William Wytlesey, who died in 1374. Thompson is now waiting for the coroner to set a date for an inquest to confirm the ring is treasure. If it is, it will be valued by experts and offered to museums to purchase. Thompson will receive the reward as the finder. Another amateur treasure hunter, who unearthed a precious Tudor ring in North Yorkshire, recently received a five-figure sum for his find.