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Last Updated: Friday, 24 September, 2004, 09:45 GMT 10:45 UK
Metal detector fan's special find
By Thelma Etim
BBC News Online, Berkshire

Bronze age jewellery
The Bronze Age wrist and arm bands that were uncovered
A last-minute decision not to discard scraps of wire uncovered with a metal detector has landed Shaun Raynsford with a prize he could only dream of.

For the pieces of metal he almost threw away were found to be pre-historic gold jewellery - thousands of years old and potentially worth several thousand pounds.

The precious items had lain beneath the Berkshire Downs for 3,000 years before Mr Raynsford and 399 other metal detector enthusiasts began scouring the land.

'Placate the gods'

On Tuesday, a delighted Mr Raynsford handed over the Bronze Age wrist and arm bands to excited experts at West Berkshire Museum for safekeeping.

He told BBC News Online: "It is just unbelievable. It is not very often you find something like that.

"This is my greatest find. The most I have found before are Roman brooches and coins.

"My initial thought was: it's just wire. I was going to pick it up and throw it away.

Bronze age jewellery
Shaun Raynsford has been a metal detecting fan for 13 years

"But as soon as I dug the first one out, I knew it was gold."

The timing of the significant find last weekend comes as the father-of-five celebrates 13 years of metal detecting, which began when he bought one of his children one for Christmas.

Since then metal detecting has become a family affair with his father, uncle, brother-in-law, sister and wife Carol all joining him at large rallies across the country.

The 45-year-old carpenter also attends similar events fortnightly in Newbury, as a member of a metal detecting club run by a husband-and-wife team from the Kennett Centre.

Bronze age jewellery
Mr Raynsford with his trusted metal detector on the Berkshire Downs

Duncan Coe, from West Berkshire Museum, said: "Often these objects were deliberately put in the ground to mark some kind of special event - for example, a burial - but also to placate the gods or to try to improve the fertility of a field."

The process of deciding where the ancient treasure will eventually be housed is now under way.

The wrist and arm bands will be sent to the British Museum for verification and evaluation.

But experts at West Berkshire Museum hope they will one day go on display there.

Any cash windfall - to be split with the land owner - will be spent on a bigger camper van, said Mr Raynsford, so he can continue his travels around the country attending metal detecting weekends.

Schoolboy digs up medieval ring
21 May 04 |  South West Wales

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