A single-minded metal detectorist has reunited a woman with the wedding ring she lost in a potato patch in the Western Isles 50 years ago.
Peggy MacSween believed she had lost the golden band forever after it slipped off her finger while she gathered potatoes at her home on Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides.
But after recently learning of her lost ring, fellow islander and detection enthusiast Donald MacPhee made it his mission to unearth the treasure.
MacPhee spent three days searching Liniclate Machair, the sandy coastal meadow where the potato patch once was with a metal detector. The area had become a popular drinking spot over the years, resulting in a significant number of buried can ring pulls that confused the sonic search for the ring.
MacPhee, who runs Benbecula’s Nunton House hostel, explained: “For three days I searched and dug 90 holes. The trouble is gold rings make the same sound [on the detector] as ring pulls and I got a lot of those – as well as many other things such as horseshoes and cans.
“But on the third day I found the ring. I was absolutely flabbergasted. I had searched an area of 5,000 sq metres. It was a one in a 100,000 chance and certainly my best find. It was a fluke. There was technique involved, but I just got lucky.”
Taking up the story, 86-year-old MacSween added: “He just came to the door and said: ‘I have something to show you.’ It was the ring. I couldn’t believe it, but there it was. I thought I would never see it again.”
She said: “I was shaking the sand out of my gloves and the ring disappeared. I didn’t know until I got home. I went out once or twice to look for it, but there was no way of finding it.”
Her husband, John, whom she married in July 1958 and died a few years ago, bought her a replacement while they were on holiday.
MacPhee said he had started metal detecting seven years ago after watching YouTube videos. “That got me interested and this is for many reasons my best find. It was very, very emotional,” he said.