A TREASURE hunter who dug up a jewel-encrusted ancient artefact in an Essex field is set for a £40,000 payday.
Fed-up Dean Young was about to holster his metal detector after a "terrible" day of scanning when its alarm screeched.
He dug down six inches into the ploughed field and to his astonishment saw a mesmerising golden ring winking back at him.
The 47-year-old, from Wickford, in Essex, told The Sun: "I thought it was a bit of gold foil, I picked it up and thought 'that's heavy'.
"I saw the detail on it and was absolutely gobsmacked, I couldn't believe it, I knew straight away it was something special.
"I showed my friend who just grabbed me and went 'what have you done!'"
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Dad-of-two Dean – a relative novice of six years detecting – had unearthed a "unique" 1,400-year-old solid gold Saxon ring.
The squashed finger bling is 20mm thick, 35mm wide and weighs 7g.
It is laden with red garnets which form a four-pronged star around a "mysterious" white jewel which Dean says has bamboozled experts.
The encrusted wonder is finished off with an elaborate rope pattern that stretches around the treasure.
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It is thought to date back to 650AD when ruthless pagan warlord King Penda of Mercia – aka The Kingslayer – ruled in the region.
It is unclear who exactly would have dropped the ring in the West Essex field but experts say it was likely owned by a high status person.
Dean, who owns an antiques and reclamations shop, added: "It's the closest thing you get to a time-machine.
"It gets in your head of who would have been wearing it, what they would've been like, some very impressive person.
"There could be something inside it telling us who it was made for and when."
Dean says he is humbled by his find, noting how detectorists have scanned the same field for over 20-years but found nothing of significance.
He has since followed procedure, handing the ring to his local Finds Liaison Officer who passed it onto the British Museum for tests.
They will now have the chance to make Dean an offer on the stunning finger piece.
But the dad-of-two says experts believe the treasure could fetch up to £40,000 at auction and he won't tolerate low offers.
He explained: "There are a few Saxon rings with garnets out there but not this – I have had auction values of £30,000-£40,000.
"If the British Museum make a lowball offer I'm not going to accept it."
Prof Michael Lewis, Head of Portable Antiquities & Treasure at the British Museum told The Sun: "This beautiful ring highlights the skill of Anglo-Saxon craftworkers."
Under the Treasure Act 1996, finders have a legal obligation to report all finds of potential Treasure to the local coroner in the district in which the find was made.
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'Treasure' has a number of definitions but key requirements are that it'sup to 200-years-old and over 10 percent of its weight is precious metal.
If a reward is paid for a find it is normally shared equally between the finder and landowner.
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