An amateur metal detector enthusiast from Dorset has unearthed a 500-year-old gold ring worth £10,000 ($12,740).
The immaculate piece of jewellery was buried under several feet of mud and is set to be auctioned off next month.
Driving instructor Paul Wood, 64, was searching an Oxfordshire field that has been sold off for housing development when he made his discovery.
The seal ring is engraved with an elaborate coat of arms and features the crest of a noble family.
It is elaborately engraved and the small size indicates it may have been designed to fit the slender fingers of a noble lady.
Mr Wood, from Upton, near Poole in Dorset, stumbled across the ring in August 2016.
The ring is thought to date back to between the 16th and 18th centuries and was found on land in Bampton, Oxfordshire.
According to research carried out by Mr Wood, the Skynners were important in the Bampton region from the 13th century onwards.
Mr Wood said: ‘I’ve been metal detecting since the mid-1970s and this is a find of a lifetime for me. It could be 500 years old.
‘I’ve found broken bits of ring before but never anything like this. It’s in beautiful condition. There isn’t a blemish on it.
‘I found variations of the Skynner crest and traced the Le Skiniers who came over to England during the Norman conquest in the 11th century.
‘There was a Henry Le Skynner in 1287 in Brampton. The evidence is compelling.’
Mark Becher, who runs the Metal Detectives Group from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire who organised the search revealed the location had been sold off for housing development.
The group of amateur enthusiasts received permission to explore the land before it was built on.
Mr Becher said: ‘When Paul found it, he was so excited – we all were. We knew it was special. It’s a high-end object that would have belonged to a person of wealth and importance.
‘It demonstrates craftsmanship, skill, detail and definition. It’s just amazing. Gold comes out of the ground exactly as it goes in.’
The ring is now going under the hammer and is expected to fetch £10,000 at Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire next month.
James Brenchley, Hansons’ head of Antiquities, Ancient Art and Classical Coins, said: ‘It’s a wonderful find and, due to it being rather small, may have belonged to a lady.
‘The coat of arms features an elegant chevron decorated with small dots between three birds’ heads.
‘Above the shield is a well detailed helm, from which emerges elaborate mantling on either side.
‘Just above the helm, the crest consists of another bird’s head rising from a battlement, its mouth open and neck decorated with thin lines to indicated ruffled feathers.
‘A similar example can be found at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.’