A metal detectorist literally struck gold when he discovered a 4,000-year-old necklace worth thousands of pounds near his home in Cumbria.
54-year-old Billy Vaughan unearthed the rare find in a remote field near his hometown of Whitehaven.
Mistaking the item for a piece of climbing equipment, it soon turned out Billy had discovered a 4,000-year-old gold torc from the Bronze Age, believed to be worth around £11,000.
After his discovery, but not quite sure what it was he’d found, Billy sent a photo to his friend who told Billy to come round right away.
I’d only been detecting six months and I was out by myself on a field I must have been in dozens of times before, spending seven or eight hours going through it.
This time I got a strong signal so I dug down five inches and saw it. My first reaction was it was a piece of climbing equipment, or perhaps coupling from a tractor. I never thought it could be gold.
In fact, Billy might never have realised what it was had it not shown it to a friend.
I carried on detecting for an hour and a half before I called my friend and sent him a picture of it. He said I must come around with it right away so I hopped in my car and drove to his house with it.
He was very excited about the find and told me to take it to a jeweller’s, who confirmed it was 11oz of 22 carat gold.
He said it had a value in gold of £11,000, but it was worth a lot more because of its age and what it was. I was stunned and gobsmacked. I still can’t believe it.
Billy, a care worker, has since alerted his local museum as well as a coroner, who will determine whether his find is ‘treasure’ under the 1996 Treasure Act.
If it is determined to be ‘treasure’ by a coroner, Billy would be legally obliged to offer it for sale to a museum at a price set by the Treasure Valuation Committee.
I try not to get ahead of myself and think about the money until you get it, but it will make a difference.
To think I was the first person to hold that torc in who knows how many years is quite something.
Gold torcs were worn around the neck or wrist as jewellery, used to display wealth and status, and often given as gifts to loved ones.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.