Amateur treasure hunter, 30, unearths Elizabethan gold signet ring worth £10,000

A factory worker thought he’d found a Coke can ring-pull while out metal detecting only to discover it was a rare piece of Elizabethan jewellery worth £10,000.

Ben Bishop was searching a farmer’s field when he came across the stunning item, a gold signet ring dates back to between 1550 and 1650.  

It will be sold at Hansons Auctioneers in Derby on September 27.

Mr Bishop made the discovery in Glastonbury, Somerset. 

The 30-year-old said: ‘I thought it was another Coke can ring-pull – I’ve found tons of those over the years along with lots or rubbish.

‘I lifted up the turf and started digging, expecting to find another one. But I saw something shining and, when I broke off the mud, it was an ancient gold ring.

‘It’s the first gold I’ve ever found. I was so gobsmacked I just sat down on the ground staring at it for about 40 minutes.’

The signet ring, featuring a double-headed eagle, has since been identified as Elizabethan and dates back to between 1550 and 1650 – making it almost 500 years old.

It will now be sold be sold at Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall, Derbys, on mSeptember 27 and is expected to fetch up to £10,000.

Mr Bishop, who has been metal detecting for seven years, added: ‘I did lots of research on the ring and immediately registered it as Treasure Trove.

‘I thought it may have been Eastern European but it turns out that the Eagle symbol was used on lead tokens when Elizabeth I was on the throne

‘The ring was taken away for a couple of months to be examined and the British Museum did a report on it. 

No museums wanted to buy it so it was returned to me as the finder. I had an agreement with the owner of the field that if I found anything of high value I would sell it and split the proceeds. 

‘It’s a man’s ring and fits my finger really well, but I have to part with it.

‘I have no idea who it originally belonged to but it would have been a person of wealth and importance. Glastonbury Abbey, an old monastery, isn’t far away.’

Mr Bishop, of Bridgwater, Somerset, took the ring to show jewellery expert Kate Bliss, a regular on TV’s Bargain Hunt and Flog It! 

She was at a free jewellery valuations events organised by Hansons Auctioneers at The Malt  House in Alveston, Stratford.

Ms Bliss said: ‘This gold signet ring bowled me over. What an amazing find.

‘Ben is an avid and experienced metal detector. It’s been assessed by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

‘Depicting a double headed eagle on a flat oval bezel with beaded border, the ring weighs in at an unusually heavy 17 grams. 

This is a rare find and one which will appeal to jewellery enthusiasts and historians alike.’


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