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Treasure hunt fan strikes gold again on Shropshire border

North Shropshire | News | Published:

After striking gold on a farmer's field on the Shropshire border three years ago, 86-year-old metal detecting enthusiast Cliff Massey thought he had hit the jackpot.

He never thought he would strike gold twice more on the same land, let alone uncover a gold ring more than 500 years old.

But that's exactly what happened. Mr Massey found a medieval coin hoard of three gold and 25 silver medieval coins on a farm in Bronington, near Whitchurch, on November 24, 2013, and March 16 last year – just a year after finding another 14 similar silver coins on the same site.

And in his most recent find, the Wrexham metal detector also uncovered a decorative gold ring thought to date back to 1465 with a hexagonal bezel containing a polished blue sapphire.

Landowner Ifor Edwards, 58, said he couldn't believe Mr Massey and his friend Peter Walpole had found buried treasure so many times in his field. He said: "It is the find of a lifetime. I was gobsmacked when he showed me."

The coins have been identified as between the reigns of Edward III, Richard II and Henry VI while three pennies are still uncertain.

The earliest coins of Edward I or II and Edward III – all struck between 1280 and 1377 – are "considerably worn" through circulation.

But the Henry VI coins struck between 1422 and 1461, are mostly unworn and all 28 coins are thought to form a single hoard, which is believed to have been lost or deposited after 1465.

And all the discoveries actually began with Mr Edwards losing his keys.

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When the keys disappeared in the field, he called in metal detector enthusiast Mr Massey to help find them, and has allowed him to keep looking for things on his land ever since. Mr Massey said: "I've been doing it for 15 years.

When we found these coins and the rings, we started laughing because we couldn't believe it."

Dr Mark Redknap, head of collections and research at National Museum Wales, said: "The association of the ring with datable coins has significance for jewellery studies.

"This ring is particularly fine. A closest parallel for the still leaf foliage is found on the shoulders of a decorative gold ring set with a cut sapphire considered to be one referred to in the will of John Claymond, first president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford (1468-1537).

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"This makes the Bronington ring contemporary with the coin element of the hoard, thought to have been deposited after AD 1465 because of the clipping evident on some coins."

At an inquest yesterday at Wrexham Guildhall, Coroner John Gittins declared that the hoard and ring were treasure. Coroner Gittins said: "I hope you continue to have luck with it."

Mr Massey's first find has been given to Wrexham County Borough Museum for £1,600 and now the museum has expressed an interest in having the new find. The value of the most recent discovery has not yet been determined.

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