A treasure hunter dug up a small fortune after a ring he discovered turned out to be a 15th century jewel worth a whopping £35,000.
A man with a metal detector discovered the historic gold-enamelled relic near Launde Abbey, an Elizabethan manor house in Leicestershire – which was once the home of Thomas Cromwell’s son.
Experts have described the relic as ‘exceptionally lavish’ – with the point-cut diamond and rounded ruby reportedly reflecting the bond between husband and wife.
The finder, who lives locally, then handed the ring to his local council – who asked the British Museum to investigate its history.
They revealed that it could have ended up in the ground following a battle, and it was given a minimum guide price of £20,000 at Sotheby’s.
But after bidding on the relic began earlier this afternoon, the hammer fell at an impressive £35,000 – with the money split between the treasure hunter and the land owner.
Erik Bijzet, Sotheby’s Old Master Sculpture & Works of Art specialist, explained: ‘It was found by a gentleman using a metal detector. He’s seasoned at it, but while he normally finds coins, he struck gold on this occasion.
‘The British museum identified it as a 15th Century ring and then it was handed over to us and we narrowed it down to the last two decades of that century.
‘The Portable Antiquities Scheme has found some extraordinary lots over the years and this is certainly one of the best rings we have had in a long time.’
Launde Abbey was taken over by Thomas Cromwell as part of the dissolution of the monasteries – but he was executed in 1540 before he could move into the stately home.