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Elizabethan ring find could fetch £10,000

Ben Bishop and the ring that he found that could fetch £10,000 at auction.
Ben Bishop and the ring that he found that could fetch £10,000 at auction.

A young factory worker who has found ‘lots of rubbish’ during years as a metal detector was not surprised when his machine’s digital display indicated he had found a drink can ring-pull.

It was in fact a ring that has since been identified at a valuation day in Stratford-upon-Avon as Elizabethan and dates back to between 1550 and 1650 - that means it could be nearly 500 years old.

The gold signet ring, featuring a double-headed eagle, was found last August in a farmer’s field, near Glastonbury, Somerset, where Ben Bishop, a metal detector for seven years, had permission to dig.

It will now be sold at Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire on 27th September with an estimate of £7,500 to £10,000.

Thirty-year-old Ben, from Bridgwater, Somerset, 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.”

Ben 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.”

Ben took the ring to show jewellery expert Kate Bliss, a familiar face on TV’s Bargain Hunt and Flog It! She was at a free jewellery valuations events organised by Hansons Auctioneers at The Malt House, The Rookery, Alveston, Stratford-upon-Avon.

She 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 17grams. This is a rare find and one which will appeal to jewellery enthusiasts and historians alike.”

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