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What the beep! Detectorist strikes gold and digs up 4,000-year-old treasure worth thousands

‘Gobsmacked’: Detectorist Billy Vaughan with Bronze Age torc worth thousands of pounds PICTURE: BNPS

A METAL detectorist is celebrating the find of a lifetime after digging up a 4,000-year-old gold band worth thousands of pounds.

Billy Vaughan, 54, unearthed the 22-carat Bronze Age torc in a field near his home town Whitehaven, Cumbria.

He said: ‘I’d only been detecting for six months and I was out by myself in 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.

‘I carried on detecting for an hour and a half before I called my friend and sent him a picture of it.’

Field of dreams: Gold band was 5in below the surface

When the friend received the photo he wanted to see the find right away, so Mr Vaughan drove to his house.

‘He was very excited and told me to take it to a jeweller, who confirmed it was 11oz of 22 carat gold,’ the care worker said. ‘The jeweller said the gold alone had a value of £11,000, but it was worth a lot more because of its age and what it was. I was stunned — gobsmacked. I still can’t believe it.’

Gold torcs, worn around the neck or wrist to display wealth and status, were often gifted to loved ones. Mr Vaughan has informed the coroner, who will rule if his find is ‘treasure’.

If it is, he must offer it for sale to a museum at a price set by the Treasure Valuation Committee.

A torc unearthed in Norfolk two years ago was bought for £23,000 by a local museum. Mr Vaughan said: ‘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.’