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Sheppey plumber finds 'magic' Roman amulet in Faversham field owned by Russian princess

By Luke May

A plumber from the Isle of Sheppey has struck gold in a field owned by a Russian princess.

Ashley Wilson has been venturing out to fields with his metal detector for six years, but made the find of his life last August when he discovered a Roman amulet from the 2nd century AD.

The 30-year-old said: "If I start finding them every week that'd be pretty nice."

The golden amulet or 'Bracteate' discovered by Ashley Wilson. Picture: Ashley Wilson (9107562)
The golden amulet or 'Bracteate' discovered by Ashley Wilson. Picture: Ashley Wilson (9107562)

A special treasure inquest today was held at the Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone to hear more about the find.

Assistant coroner Sonia Hayes told Mr Wilson the amulet, known as a Bracteate, dated back to the Roman era and was made from gold.

The amulet bears an "evil eye" in the middle, which is being attacked by a scorpion, a dog, an elephant and a bird.

The golden amulet or 'Bracteate' discovered by Ashley Wilson. Picture: Ashley Wilson (9107558)
The golden amulet or 'Bracteate' discovered by Ashley Wilson. Picture: Ashley Wilson (9107558)

She said: "The amulet is generally in good condition barring a slight tear."

The inquest heard Canterbury Museum is interested in purchasing the amulet, which weighs 1.43grammes, is 18.3mm in diameter and 1.2mm thick.

Mrs Hayes read evidence which said it would have been viewed as a "magic amulet" when it was created.

The golden amulet or 'Bracteate' discovered by Ashley Wilson. Picture: Ashley Wilson (9107560)
The golden amulet or 'Bracteate' discovered by Ashley Wilson. Picture: Ashley Wilson (9107560)

Similar finds are on display at the British Museum and the John Hopkins Archaeological Museum in the United States.

A similar design is also on display at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire.

Mr Wilson, from Sheerness, discovered the Bracteate while searching for metal in the parish of Norton, Buckland and Stone.

Provender House in Faversham is home to Russian Princess, Olga Romanoff. Picture: Tony Flashman FM4088446 (9141593)
Provender House in Faversham is home to Russian Princess, Olga Romanoff. Picture: Tony Flashman FM4088446 (9141593)

He said: "I originally asked a farmer if I could take my metal detector on to his land to have a look.

"He told me he only leased the land from Princess Olga Romanoff.

"I asked her and she told me I couldn't search one part of her land, but recommended another.

"I've found pennies before, with the metal detector you don't know if you're picking up a coin or a washer.

"But as soon as I saw this, I knew it was gold. I've never had a find like this before, never one I've had to report to someone.

"I told the Princess and she was happy to hear it too.

"A few weeks ago they found a coin in Dover worth £100,000. If this is worth that much I'll be going on a few holidays."

Where treasure is found, the price it is sold is usually split between the finder and the owner of the land it was found on.

No value for the coin was given at today's inquest.

KentOnline was invited for a look around the Princess' home in Faversham back in 2015.

The 69-year-old, whose father was the eldest nephew of the murdered Tsar Nicholas II, moved to Provender House when she was just a week old.

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