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Gold bishop's ring found on the Isle of Sheppey

By John Nurden

A solid gold bishop's ring which could date back to the reign of Henry Vlll or earlier has been discovered on the Isle of Sheppey.

It was unearthed by Ashley Solly yesterday during a day out with the Medway History Finders.

More than 70 metal detectorists descended on the Island as part of an official hunt for lost treasure.

The solid gold ring
The solid gold ring

Club spokesman Adam Hunter said: "This is probably the most important item ever found on the Island. It is phenomenal."

The 26gm ring must be handed to the coroner within the next two weeks and is then likely to go to the British Museum for authentication.

Mr Hunter, 54, said: "It is a one-off and in excellent condition. It could be priceless but rings like this in the past have been valued at up to £60,000."

The ring was found by Ashley Solly from the Medway History Finders
The ring was found by Ashley Solly from the Medway History Finders

The club is keeping the exact location a secret because of fears the site could be targeted by illegal teams of night hunters known as 'night hawkers'.

Mr Hunter, said: "This is a very significant find. We had already uncovered Roman and Anglo-Saxon coins including Saxon 'skeats' and a golden 'tremesis' which could date back to the seventh century when Minster Abbey was founded by Queen Sexburgha.

"The ring could have belonged to the Abbey's bishop or it could be from the 16th century around the time Henry Vlll honeymooned on Sheppey with Anne Boleyn or to the reign of Elizabeth 1."

A solid gold bishop's ring said to be one of the most important historical finds discovered on the Isle of Sheppey
A solid gold bishop's ring said to be one of the most important historical finds discovered on the Isle of Sheppey

It includes an engraving of a king holding a sword, a seal with a bull or a ram and a bishop holding a baby.

The club has been given permission to hold a public rally on Sheppey over the weekend of August 31 and September 1 at Eastchurch.

Dad-of-three Mr Hunter, who lives in Margate and has a caravan on the Island, said: "We are expecting 400 detectorists. Sheppey is steeped in history and has Viking and Anglo-Saxon burial grounds. But it is one area of Kent which has never been properly investigated. We have spent the past three years researching the area and are expecting to find hoards of Bronze Age axe-heads. We will also be searching for signs of a lost church at Eastchurch."

Two liaison officers from the British Museum will be on site. All finds during the weekend will be on display for members of the public to view.

Read on: for more information about the Isle of Sheppey

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