Metal de­tec­tor ‘find of a life­time’ may fetch £10k

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - News - MARK CARDWELL news@west­erndai­ly­

AN ama­teur metal de­tec­tor en­thu­si­ast was cel­e­brat­ing a “find of a life­time” af­ter he dis­cov­ered a 500-year-old gold ring worth £10,000.

Driv­ing in­struc­tor Paul Wood, 64, was search­ing a field when he found the pris­tine arte­fact buried un­der sev­eral feet of mud.

The ring was found on land in Bamp­ton, on the edge of the Cotswolds.

The seal ring, which dates back to be­tween the late 1500s and early 1700s, was named ‘arte­fact of the year’ by the Metal De­tec­tives Group.

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 area from the 13th cen­tury on­wards.

Mr Wood, from Up­ton, near Poole in Dorset, stum­bled across the ring in Au­gust 2016.

He said: “I’ve been metal de­tect­ing since the mid-1970s and this is a 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.

“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.

“There was a Henry Le Skyn­ner in 1287 in Bramp­ton. The ev­i­dence is com­pelling.”

Mark Becher, who runs the Metal De­tec­tives Group from Ayles­bury, Buck­ing­hamshire, and who or­gan- ised the search, said: “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 now go­ing un­der the ham­mer and is ex­pected to fetch £10,000 at Han­sons Auc­tion­eers next month.

James Brench­ley, Han­sons’ head of an­tiq­ui­ties, an­cient art and clas­si­cal coins, said: “It’s a won­der­ful find and, due to it be­ing rather small, may have be­longed to a lady.

“The coat of arms fea­tures an el­e­gant chevron dec­o­rated with small dots be­tween three birds’ heads. Above the shield is a well de­tailed helm, from which emerges elab­o­rate mantling on ei­ther side.

“Just above the helm, the crest con­sists of an­other bird’s head ris­ing from a bat­tle­ment, its mouth open and neck dec­o­rated with thin lines to in­di­cated ruf­fled feath­ers.

“A sim­i­lar ex­am­ple can be found at London’s Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum.”

Paul Wood shows off his ‘arte­fact of the year’ awardalong­side Mark Becher

The beau­ti­ful ring with its elab­o­rate coat of arms

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